A Second Chance After Tragedy

By Brenda Baker

April 27, 1996: my wedding day. As it is for many people, it was one of the happiest days of my life; I got to marry my best friend, and he and I had the people we loved the most share the day with us.

Baker's home, Winter 2006

We had a wonderful time on that day, and captured the memories in photographs and on video. The pictures were great, and the video was even better. It had fun scenes from the rehearsal the night before, the whole ceremony, and the reception. There were parts of the ceremony that weren't the best quality (auto focus isn't always your friend!), but most of it was wonderful, so I was happy to have it regardless.

I also made a Creative Memories wedding album, which I kept with all my other scrapbooks on a prominent shelf in my home. Photos are something that are very important to me, and we look at our albums regularly. In addition to these books and the video were all the other pictures and videos of our growing family. We had two boys in the years following our wedding, and I cherished the photo books I made for them — the videos we took of them as well. Their first steps, fun memories playing, and great times on vacation.

It's always surprising how much can change in a moment. On February 23, 2007, I had been out for the morning with my boys. We home-schooled, so we normally would have been at home that morning, but we had a special field trip planned with a bunch of other home-schoolers that we knew. It was a fun morning of learning and exploration. Afterwards we headed home, expecting to continue our day as normal, but as we neared the house we knew something wasn't right.

Vehicles and fire trucks surrounded our property. While we were out that morning, our home had burned to the ground. We never found out the cause; it didn't matter anyway. Everything we owned was gone. The worst things we lost were our family pets; the second worst thing was all our photos and videos. I was, and still am, so thankful that we were not home when it happened. My boys don’t have memories of fleeing a burning house. But if I could have saved my memories…

In the aftermath, as we sorted through the rubble, I was able to pull out several burned scrapbooks. Some were gone forever, but the ones that were more protected in the middle of the shelves somewhat survived. Good friends and I spent several days peeling scorched and soaked photos out of the albums, drying them flat and storing them so I could later scan them, reprint them, and re-scrapbook them. It took years, but I did it. Digital photo storage wasn't a thing in 2007, and if it was I'm not sure I would have thought it important enough to use. I feel very differently now.

My videos, however, were not so lucky. Not one survived. I didn't have the videos of my wedding, of my boys taking their first steps, their beginning words, or any of those wonderful moments that happened through life. I'm glad I at least have some of the photos. But there's no changing things, and so we started making new memories and taking new photos.

Fast forward to just a couple of months ago. I was visiting my brother and his family, and we were discussing FOREVER, as we often do! My sister-in-law has a lot of videos of her kids when they were younger, and so we got to discussing the wonderful conversion service that FOREVER offers. I mentioned that I missed my videos, and I wished I had that wedding video especially. My sister-in-law jumped up and ran out of the room, saying something like, "Wait there! I’ll be right back!".

Moments later she came back into the room holding an 8mm tape. It was a copy of my wedding video! We had used her camera on my wedding day, and she had had a copy of it all these years and had only recently found it. She forgot that we had lost ours in the fire 12 years ago! This would all have been wonderful enough, but who has the equipment to watch an 8mm film anymore? Needless to say, I quickly bought a conversion box and sent it into FOREVER to have it converted to a digital format for me!

Finally, I got the email that said the conversion was done, and the video was in my account. I was able to watch my wedding video after 12 years of thinking I would never see it again! It was so wonderful to relive that day- blurry moments and all! There were lots of tears and laughter as watched. My kids, who aren't so little now, got to see what their dad and I looked like on that day, and see lots of other family members that are no longer with us. It is such a treasure, and I am SO thankful to the amazing team at FOREVER that was able to bring it back to life!

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