A couple of years ago, some very sweet friends gifted us with a long weekend in their cottage in a place much like Sweethaven. A community where the houses are passed down through the generations, rich with history and filled with stories.
It was there that I began to imagine the women of this small town coming together in the Commons for evenings of scrapbooking while the summer sun waned over the lake and their children caught lightning bugs in the field out back.
Suddenly, I wanted to live in this place. With these women. And I wanted to uncover their secrets. To dive into their friendships and see how they’d begun, how they’d changed and evolved through the years.
I wanted to give place to the preciousness of friends who knew me while I was still discovering who I was, and to explore the power of the bonds that are formed in those earliest years.
But most of all, I wanted to take a look at the redemptive qualities of unconditional love. Friends who let you make mistakes—who look on you with love when you do, who forgive and go on loving you anyway.
Those kinds of friendships are so hard to find, but when you find them, they are better than gold.
Pulling in my love of memory-keeping was an absolute must, since at my core, I have always been a scrapbooker. Because of this, I have a record of many of the most important milestones in my life.
And I’ve discovered, like the women of Sweethaven, that those records can remind me of what’s really important. They act as therapy in the darkest hours. They serve as keepsakes when my memory fails. And they help my children understand a little more about their mom in a way no conversation ever seems to be able to.
I realize not everyone is a born scrapbooker, but I encourage you to share your stories—using whatever method you choose. Journal them, scrapbook them, record them on video—whatever works for you because in the end, our stories are what will help us live on.
Buy Courtney Walsh's A Sweethaven Summer.