Monday, June 30, 2008

A Lasting Change

Lauren, my "lily," holding her flower from the Camille's casket spray

Today was my first morning not waking up thinking about Camille.  That is probably because I woke up to my husband telling me that I was needed to change Lauren's poopy underwear.  Somehow this takes precedence over grief in the human psyche.  It was a full 10 minutes before I thought of Camille.  

This kind of reminded me of 9/11.  I remember waking to my husband's phone call telling me that he was on his way home from work and to go turn on the TV.  Sabrina was 3 months old at the time.  I sat in front of the TV with her in my arms, my jaw open, tears streaming down my face.  I thought of all those mothers and fathers, wives and husbands, sons and daughters that went to work that day and just were not coming home.  Then, Sabrina made a mess in her diaper.  Here these people were dying as I was watching and I had to change a dirty diaper.  Dirty diapers do not stop just because tragedy occurs.  

I remember after 9/11 how close I felt to my neighbors.  How invested I felt in our nation.  It didn't matter what political party you were or where you stood on Health Care or Abortion.  We were truly ONE Nation.  There were flags everywhere.  People talked to each other more in the grocery store and on the street.  I loved that feeling and wished it would stay.  But human nature won out and here we are 7 years later divided again.

This tragedy in our family has had that same unifying effect.  My family, in particular, feels more unified that we ever have before. (I think the Waite family already felt unified).  We Harris crew, on the other hand, are a family of strong personalities and differing opinions and points of view.  We are not afraid to voice them.  We are also a family of deep emotions.  Many times our emotions run so deep we avoid facing them afraid of losing it.  In this situation, I did not know how my siblings would react. 

React they did.  They all dropped what they were doing and came to my side.  Within 24 hours all my siblings and all their spouses except one in Texas and all the local Waite family were gathered in our hospital room.  My siblings surrounded me in love and strength and faith. Bridges I thought had been burned were suddenly anchors of strength.  That unity has continued still.  

My sister giving me support at the graveside.

I felt an outpouring of love and unity in my church congregation.  I have felt that unity of love from the comments on this blog.  I have felt a greater sense of peace and purpose in our little family.  I have felt an increased love for all people.  I have a greater sensitivity to how we treat our fellow human beings. It has been a wonderful byproduct of terribly difficult time.  I want this to be a lasting change.  

I know our little family has experienced a lasting change.  Camille's absence is a daily reminder of this change.  I know I will be forever different.  But I want to keep the feeling of love I feel for all mankind in my heart.  I don't want to let the dirty diapers of life to distract me from my true purpose.  I want to keep the fires of love burning bright between my family members and friends.  I want the change everyone feels as they enter this bubble of my world right now to be lasting.  I don't want the bubble to pop but I also want to LIVE in the real world and be present and alive for my children and for Camille's sake.  

My brother rubbing my back.  
Me running my fingers through Lauren's hair

Oh remember remember ... 
Remember and Feel the Chain of Love

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A New Reason

I love this picture.  I have a flower in my mind that reminds me of each of my girls.  They each know their flower and why it reminds me of them.  Camille's flower is the tulip.  It is delicate and beautiful and it grows to the light in its own beautiful way.  My sister in law Elizabeth took this photo of a giant vase of tulips that her parents, who are serving as mission presidents in Africa, sent to the funeral.  It is peaceful looking and the drop of water on the stem almost looks like a tear.  It makes me remember the peace inside me, despite the tears.

Today, we went to church.  It was a harder day for me.  I just woke up missing Camille.  Then I had some pretty important talks with our kids about the Lord and His plan for us.  Next we were off to church.  Church was good but I was still just missing wrestling my baby.  Never thought I would miss wresting my nap deprived baby.  But it was good to go.  

I have no doubt most who have read this blog know I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I am devout in my faith.  I had an experience when I was 14 studying my faith for a year and praying to have an answer from God about whether or not this faith my parents had taught me about was real and true.  I got a physical and profound answer that it was in fact true and the Joseph Smith really saw God the Father and Jesus Christ in answer to his prayer to find the true religion.  Since that day, I have tried very hard to live my religion.  I have made my share of mistakes, but my faith has never wavered.  I have found answers when I have needed them.  I have found peace in stormy trials.  I haven't always liked the roads the Lord has led me to travel. But I have traveled them in faith, KNOWING the Lord knew me and loved me and would not allow me to feel any pain that was not necessary for my salvation.  I have had some pretty low points where I didn't understand why the Lord would lead me down a painful and unproductive path.  But I never have doubted that He loved me and was doing what was in my best interest.  Later he has shown me that the path he led me down was the easier of two painful paths.  I trust the Lord implicitly.  Even now.

And I have always been glad to be a member of my church.  First off, I knew from God that this is His church on the earth.  That is really all the reason I need to be an active member.  Second, I owe the Savior my life.  He has paid too big a debt for me for me not to follow Him and obey Him.  Lastly, there are so many social benefits to being a member that I LOVE being a member of my church. 

Now I have a new reason to add to my list of why I am a member of my church.  My church teaches us that families are eternal and the relationships we have on earth can continue in the heavens.  Specifically, God has restored the sealing power Christ gave to Peter to the earth today and families can be sealed together on this earth by one holding that authority.  My husband and I were married in the Las Vegas Temple.  There one with authority from God, sealed my husband and I together not just till death did we part but for time and all eternity. Included in that sealing were all future children we would have.  If we live worthy and pure, Jon and I will be able to raise Camille to her full maturity after the resurrection.  I have always heard this taught at church and felt it was true.  But now it is the foremost reason in my mind to be a member of my church and to live worthy of that blessing.

I am grateful for the faith I have that has been tried and tested through trials.  It is my life line on these hard days.  I have purposefully tried not to be too preachy in this blog thus far.  I would not push my faith on anyone but I will invite all who read to learn more about my faith by visiting

Going to church helped me feel better.  Especially meeting with the young women.  Serving helps.  Thank you all again for your prayers, of whatever faith you may be.  I know the Lord loves each of His children here on earth and listens to each prayer uttered.  May we all strive to learn and live His will.  I know the new reason I will be doing just that ...

(For those of you wondering about Sabrina, she is fine.  She was overly exhausted not able to fall asleep as early as necessary and up early for school for too many days.  When that happens she wakes throwing up, throws up all morning then get a good nap and is fine.  Just a funny way her body has of forcing her to rest.  None of the rest of us are feeling queasy.)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Mama Medicine

My hand combing though Lauren's hair at the graveside.

Right now it is not quite 8 am on a Saturday morning.  I woke up to the sounds of Sabrina throwing up.  Normally I would have been way devastated by such a noise.  I know that usually when I hear throwing up sounds, I need to clear my schedule and plan on tending to the sick one while juggling the others and keeping them separated for a day or so till they feel all better.  Today none of the dread that usually accompanies the stomach flu came to me.  Isn't that strange.

Right now Sabrina is asleep next to me in my bed.  She has thrown up pretty much every 30 minutes for about 2 hours now, but it is basically just dry heaving at this point.  She has slept in between.  She is a good patient and doesn't get too upset about throwing up.  (Not like Ann who screams in anger that she can't control her body while flailing her head in all directions.)   Maybe the lack of dread is because it is Sabrina and not Ann who is sick.  But it could be contagious and they all could get it.  So the dread should still be there.  But it isn't.  

Maybe it is not there because my perspective has changed and suddenly having a kid who is sick and will get better seems like a pretty good thing.  Maybe the dread is not there because for the first time in 2 weeks I am really needed and I can help.  There was not much I could do for Camille, try as I did.  There are few things in my life as a stay at home mother that others cannot do for me.  And so many have lovingly helped to do those mundane jobs of the housewife.  

But throwing up kids -- well that is one you don't let other people do unless you are physically totally unable.  First off, you don't want anyone else to get it, especially other people's kids.  And more importantly, kids need their mom when they are sick.  

There is a medicine just in the presence of your mother.  I know, I have had a few doses of that myself recently.  Something about having your mom around just makes you feel better.  She doesn't have to even do anything special.  Just having her near, with her hand on you somewhere, helps.  Thank heaven for mama medicine.  I am glad to be a provider of it today.

Me and my mother at the cemetery after the funeral

Friday, June 27, 2008


Some days are harder than others.  Today has been one of those days.  I nearly lost it in the middle of my Pilate's class.  My teacher doesn't know about the accident.  I haven't told her because I wanted some place I could go without everyone knowing my pain.  She gets to see my physical pain every time I go.  She tells me to breathe through it, "Inhale through the nose; exhale through the mouth.  Don't forget to breathe."

"Don't forget to breathe," I remind myself now when the waves of grief crash over me.  "Don't forget to breathe, Stephanie.  You can't just hold your breath forever.  You have to live.  You have little girls to help through this.  You have to breathe."

And eventually the wave subsides and I don't have to remind myself to breathe anymore.  Then I can come sit at my computer and write out my own personal therapy session for all those who love me to come read to discover the answer to that most difficult and mundane question, "how are you?"

Today, my answer  -- I am breathing.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Little Things

"Goodbye my Little Boo!" I called to Sabrina this morning.  Then I thought, "wait, that is a Camille nickname.  My little peek-a-boo girl."  As parents of multiple children we often call a kid by the wrong name.  Now when I do that it just reminds me of the giant whole in my chest where my heart is supposed to be and the absence of baby clinging to my side or crawling up the stairs.  It is the little things that pierce the deepest.

Here is Lauren finding a program from Camille's funeral and giving it kisses asking me when Camille is coming back to play with us.
I can't open this cupboard without feeling it is too empty without her in it.  I see the chips in the veneer she made with her toes crawling in and out of this so many times.  Now I don't think I ever want to repair that.  Same with her cup drawer.  I wish she were in it every time I see it.
Then there is my ipod.  I loved how happy she get when she would take the earphone and put it up to her ear and bop along to the music.  She would take the earphone away and look at me in amazement then put it back to her ear and smile.  Then she would take the earphone back out and stick it in her mouth to suck on.
Then last night Annie started doing CPR on a bag of marshmallows saying "Breathe!  Come on just Breathe!"  She was joking and playing but it still brought me back to what that day must have been like for my kids seeing their sister limp and blue, seeing their mother pleading with God as she performed CPR, seeing their father crumble in despair trying to keep them out of the way.  I am amazed how well they are dealing with the trauma and the grief.  
I have no doubt the angels in our house are attending to them as they are to me and Jonathan.  If only I had eyes that could see and ears that could hear the workings of the Lord in this house.

Take a minute for me tonight and record the little things your kids do right now.  They don't even need to be cute things.  Someday when your baby is grown you may even miss the food thrown on the ground or the face wiped on the sleeve.  Cherish the little things.  For the little things are the spice in life.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Behold Your Little Ones

Me explaining to Lauren why Camille was in the box and why she couldn't come out to play.

I am a new mother.  One of the many miracles that have come to me in all of this happened shortly after I returned home from the hospital.  Camille past away on Sunday around 4 pm. We took our girls home from my sister's house to our house that night.  

Perhaps I better give a bit of background here.   I had pretty much been at my wits end with certain behaviors before all this happened.  I love my kids but some times their craziness drove me nutty.  Some more than others.  Actually Camille was the only one I never had to discipline. The others all have made me crazy at one time or another but she was the one that always just made me smile (too young to talk back or learn to hit or be mean to siblings).  I struggled to keep myself calm and loving when the others were really acting up.  I know every mother goes through this.  It is hard to see the sweetness of your child when they are mad and hitting you or screaming at you for not getting their way.  

Lately, I was having a particularly difficult time with one of my kids.  That night we got home I was struggling with getting this child to do what I needed her to do.  Before the accident, this would have been beyond my capacity to deal with running on a total of 9 hours sleep for 4 days. But as I sat with this child in her crazy sleep deprived state I saw her through new eyes.  I saw her through Camille's eyes--and she was glorious.  I felt the love Camille had for this child and how much Camille looked up to her and admired her.  Consequently, I will never look at this child the same again.  This happened to me again the next day.  

The girls got down a couple of statues from a high shelf.  By the time I got downstairs that morning they were laying on the floor broken.  Both were special to me- a Lladro I bought in Spain when I lived there and one given to us for our wedding.  The Lladro was broken beyond repair.  Before the accident I would have been devastated by this and would have been severe in my punishment.  Now I just looked at the statues and thought, I could go buy both of these tomorrow.  They are just things and they are both replaceable.  It is only money.  I still let the girls know that I was disappointed in them for getting my things down from the shelf and that they shouldn't do that but I also let them know how much more important to me they were than any statue.

Annie and Lauren hugging their sister goodbye

My kids have been easier to discipline.  I can feel a heavenly presence in our home.  I don't want that presence to leave.  I let them know that now that Camille is an angel, she can only be where there is love.  I believe they feel her here too.  We are all working together to keep the atmosphere of LOVE strong in our home so Camille can be here with us.  It has been really nice.

So I guess my message for the day is -- Love your little ones--even the ones that drive you crazy.  If you could see them the way God sees them -- you would be astounded at their glory.  

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Sabrina said to me last night that she didn't want things to be normal again.  She doesn't want to do the normal things like going to bed and going to school.  Mostly I think she just didn't want to go to bed and have to go to school when she has cousins still in town.  But in my heart I was agreeing with her for different reasons.  I know it is best for me to get back into a routine.  My head tells me this and I am forcing myself to do it for my children and in an effort not to slip into an unproductive depression.  Still in my heart I feel like it just isn't normal here without Camille.  Actually, it has felt a little bit like Heaven here with all our family surrounding us.  We had more family here this weekend than we did for our wedding. (My twin brothers were on their missions when we got married.)  Now family members are taking their leave one by one and little by little the normal is returning. I know that is good and necessary but it feels like that little bit of Heaven is slipping away with the return of the "normal."  And with this I feel her absence more each day.  It just shouldn't be normal without her here.

I guess the Lord gives us the chores of the everyday to help us navigate the stormy seas of the life.  The normal keeps us from sinking our ships in a sea of endless sorrow. 

Never thought I would thank the Lord for the blessing of living only by the sweat of your brow.  Speaking of which, I guess I should go make my brow start sweating.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Joining the Party

I have never been so thankful to be the daughter of pioneer stock.  My ancestors and my husbands were all faithful pioneers.  All of our grandparents were faith filled righteous people. Many loved children and were fun loving.  I am so thankful to know those who are with my daughter now and to know that she is as loved there as she was here.

I took this photo about 2 weeks ago.  I will note that I do luckily keep my toilets clean.  She was having a jolly time in her own personal bird bath.  I love this photo.  It just reminds me how happy she was.  At the same time I just want to jump back into the photo and be with her in that moment again.

Is it the second coming yet?  

So You Think You Can Dance

I will be watching SYTYCD this Wed night at 8:30.  Any other fans of the show are welcome to come over and watch/cheer/analyze with me.  This will be the official lift of the ban on contacting us.  If I don't feel up to talking, I just won't answer the phone/door.

Looking forward to a little dance escapism Wed. night.  


Sunday, June 22, 2008


Today we went to church.  Church was good for me.  I felt the love of our ward for us and appreciated the support.  I enjoyed sacrament and gospel doctrine.  I found some interesting scriptures on restoration and a great scripture on the Atonement and how Christ has taken on all our pains.  This took on a new meaning for me after having heard a few people say they wish they could bear my burden for me.  Christ actually has and will take it if I let him.  Still the sorrow of separation is mine to bare.  I claim it as my own, for it is borne of love and inspires me to be the new woman Camille has shown me I can be.

It was my Sunday to teach in Young Women's.  I know they didn't really expect me to teach but I looked over the lesson during sacrament meeting and the Lord gave me a great analogy to start a lesson.  So I got to teach my analogy on the commandments being like a trampoline and then team teach the lesson on the commandments with my co advisor.  

Church was harder for Jon.  He always played with Camille in the hallway during Sunday school and priesthood.  He was missing her today.  He may not write but he reads all the blog posts and comments so if anyone wants to address him in them, he will be reading them.

After church we spent the day with family, mine first then his.  Many are leaving town tonight and tomorrow so we took time to say goodbye.  Our brother-in-law Spencer wrote a lullaby for Camille and sang it for us tonight.  He said he wrote it after watching us saying our goodbyes to Camille after we took all the tubes out.  It was beautiful.  It made us all cry.  I need to have him record it and put it as background to a slideshow with the pictures Elizabeth took at the hospital and funeral.

OK so that was the day and a couple of things of relativity have stuck out to me.  First, people have noted how hard it must have been to speak at her funeral.  I guess hard has taken on a new relativity for me.  Last Friday -- that was hard.  It was a whole new kind of hard.  This new "hard" made any other hard thing Jon or I had ever done seem like a walk in the park.  Finding her, the horror, the fear of losing her, the desperate pleas to heaven with no feeling of reassurance that she would live, the police investigation, the look of agony on my husband's face when I arrived at the hospital, the screams I heard coming from both of us as we desperately performed CPR, the keening in agony that first night in the hospital, the sickness in my stomach, the inability to sleep for 3 nights because the image of finding her would come into my head and wake me with adrenaline.  Yeah.  That was hard.  That was a whole new kind of hard.  It made speaking at her funeral seem pretty easy.  

I don't think it will ever be as hard as it was those days in the hospital.  Jon and I have had a strong peace since we acknowledged the will of the Lord was to have her home.  We have felt the Savior strengthening our backs and lightening our burden.  

On  the other end of the spectrum, what we are going through and have gone through is far easier than so many other things would be.  There are so many worse ways Camille could have been taken home.  Ways that could have permanently scarred my other children.  And as Joesph F. Smith, who buried nine of his own children once said, "I have learned that there are a great many things which are far worse than death.  With my present feelings and views and the understanding that I have of life and death, I would far rather follow every child I have to the grave in their innocence and purity, than to see them grow up to man and womanhood and degrade themselves by the pernicious practices of the world, forget the Gospel, forget God and the plan of life and salvation, and turn away from the only hope of eternal reward and exaltation in the world to come."

I have always said it would be easier to lose a child in physical death than in spiritual death.  I still maintain that for me, this is easier.  Trials ... we all have them.  They are all hard ... relatively speaking.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Blessings, Blessings, Blessings

I am counting my blessings today.  We just got home.  Walking into the church for the funeral I was taken back by who was there.  Beyond members of our ward and our old ward, there were neighbors, old family friends from my childhood, old roommates from college, my daughters former school teachers, friends from our days in California, and a friend who lived with us for a couple of years that flew up from Texas.  I looked over the audience and thought, "Gee, this is like attending your own funeral.  Well, yes, in a way this is my own funeral.  Babies are so much a part of their mothers.  Their identity is indelibly linked to their mother.  We were one once and even after birth my food was her food.  She was still a part of me.  Now she is gone and she has taken a part of me with her. 

Thank you for all your prayers today.  The funeral proved to be a good experience.  Jon's talk, which he wrote out, was wonderful.  The music was simple and uplifting.  With Annie on my hip "helping me" I was able to deliver my talk about Camille's mission on this earth (to learn, to love, and to inspire) without crying so much I couldn't talk.  My favorite part of the funeral was the feelings I felt when I bore my testimony.  One of the greatest ways for me to know truth is to speak it.  I can feel as soon as something comes out of my mouth whether it is true or not.  I know when what I am saying is wishful thinking and when it is a deep truth.  As I stood today and bore my testimony that God lives, and the Jesus is the Christ and that through His Atonement we can be made whole, spiritually, emotionally, and physically, I knew -- and I mean KNEW -- that it was Truth.  I also knew as I spoke that truly that it was only through her early death that Camille could fulfill her mission here on earth.  She has changed every member of my family and inspired so many others.  I am a changed woman.  I am personally invested in returning home to my Father in Heaven because Camille is with Him.  She is the unbreakable tie that will align my life with His will and keep me seeking His mercy so I will be able to raise her to maturity in the day of the coming of the Lord.  This was ultimately her purpose and her beauty and charm were tools she was given to make us all fall so in love with her that she could accomplish her it.  So in counting my blessings today, I count the greatest as my testimony of the gospel which teaches me that I will be with her again and I will have the privilege of raising her in a far more enjoyable setting than I would have had here.

I am also thankful for the blessing of so many wonderful family and extended family and friends.  We have been showered with love and service and I have to again say thank you.  Thank you for the comments on the blog.  I read them whenever I feel lonely and feel of the love from all those I know and the friends of friends and the strangers who know me from my posts.  Thank you for the card sent in the mail that bring tears to my eyes and comfort to my heart.  Thank you to all who have made donations to charity in Camille's name and for the flowers, the books, and the stories shared of understanding the loss of a child and how you coped.  (I feel I have joined a club of extraordinary human beings, purified through this painful trial.)  And a special thank you to so many who have thought of my children and sent gifts for them.  Helping them through their pain is my top priority now.  It has been so helpful to have a fun activity available to pull out to help dry the tears after they let the sorrow flow onto my shoulder.  My camera battery is nearly dead but I managed to get a couple photos of some of the wonderful treasures given to us. 
I had not started Camille's baby book yet.  I had saved all the stuff and done some journaling but just hadn't put it in a book.  My sister in law Nikki's sister Buffy (I LOVE YOU BUFFY) got some friends together and did a scrapbooking marathon.  I don't think I could have done this myself and it is perhaps my greatest non living treasure right now.   
I wish I could show you all the whole thing.  But here is a look at one of the pages.
Thank you thank you thank you to Buffy and all her friends who helped put this together for me.
The next photo is of a really soft "magic" blanket another friend gave us.  (Thanks LaRae!)  In her card she said the magic blanket is to wrap around us when we need a hug from those who love us.  I told the girls it was a special blanket to wrap up in when the miss Camille and wish they could get a hug from her.  
Thanks again to everyone who has brought us food, read our blog, said a prayer for us, or just hugged their kids a little more for us.  You are all blessings in our lives.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Day in the Life

2:30 am - fell asleep without the help of a sleeping pill (that is a first since the accident)
8:00 am - woke to Sabrina coming in to snuggle me - realize I am still living in this nightmare and there is no baby cry to get me out of bed.
8:15 am - roll out of bed to the ground to kneel in prayer - no tears yet this morning - still feeling strong, sad but strong
8:20 am - Jonathan comes in to get dressed (he works from home) we kneel together and talk about how we feel, how we slept, how much we love each other and how grateful we are for each other - the tears start here but i still feel strong - we pray together and make our bed
8:45 am - I put on my workout clothes and go downstairs to do my walking workout video - field phone calls about the "business" end of this while working out
9:30 am - finish working out, get a drink of water, family starts arriving - greeting family, fielding phone calls, I decide to have the whole family over to dinner and put myself in charge of organizing it - Call all the family for food orders, coordinate help coming in, check my email (comments lift me up and make me cry), email So You Think You Can Dance people to ask if the tickets they sent me yesterday for this Monday can possibly be delayed for a different week.
10:30 am - shower and get dressed
11:00 am - more family arrives from Texas - greet and finish up getting orders in for dinner
12:00 pm - play waitress for all the kids and cousins for lunch - eat my wonderful french dip beef sandwich leftover as my first meal of the day (thanks Bari)
12:30 pm - reading emails - discover Sabrina is emotional and sad, no one wants to play with her (ie I am sad about Camille but can't find a way to express it so I will make up another reason to be sad) - talk to her about fashion and ask her to pick out what I am going to wear to the funeral - finish email.
12:40 pm - go check out what Sabrina picked for me to wear and talk about what she is going to wear - decide we need to go shopping.
1:00 pm -   put Lauren down for her nap, arrange kid care with Jon and family members and go shopping with Sabrina.
1:30 pm - not finding anything to wear for me - go to look for Sabrina
2:00 pm - find a dress and shrug Sabrina likes, she promises she will still like it tomorrow - welling up in the fitting room after seeing all the baby clothes and Sabrina noting which ones would look cute on Camille - Sabrina asks why my eyes are red - I tell her I miss Camille - she comforts me with hugs and tells me it is okay - she tries on the dress - it is beautiful and appropriate so we buy it 
2:30 pm - we keep looking for me - no luck, no luck, no luck finally on our way out i find a dress that is black with white polka dots and is silky soft like Camilles favorite blanket - it is on sale for $40 - it fits but needs a camisole - go to lingerie to buy camisole and a new bra for post nursing sized chest - after an extensive search we find success and make purchases 
(Meanwhile my mother and mother in law go dress Camille)
4:00 pm - arrive home- get mail - cute cards drawn for the girlies (thanks Phillip and Stephanie and girls) with fun stories, condolence cards for me and Jon, cards make me cry.  More family arrives.
5:00 pm - more family arrives and more family arrives - food arrives for kids (thanks Autumn and Jason) and we feed kids grown up food arrives and we eat - find Sabrina in her room sad, locked doors, wanting to be alone, give more love.
7:00 pm - Say a family prayer - feel the love of all in the home - tears start flowing
7:30 pm - Watch slideshow of Camille photos made by my sister-in-law Elizabeth - Ann Marie breaks down in the middle of it, it is the first time she has cried about it - I take her out of the room and we cry together.
8:00 pm - family starts to leave, friends come and bring presents for the girls, they are happy again.
9:30 pm - friends leave, Jon goes to put the girls down to bed - not successful - I start to blog - Lauren comes down and goes back up to bed - Ann Marie comes down crying, I ask what is wrong as she snuggles up to me, she says "guess", I say "Camille", she nods - I hold her as she cries, her little sobs rumbling through her body as she wipes her eyes with her blankie - she wipes my tears with her blankie too.  She asks if she can help me blog and snuggles up beside to read as I type.  She corrects my typing errors as I go -- "It is blankie mama not blanket."
11:00 pm - time to take Annie back up to bed and help her fall asleep.


what you can do for the family. . .

Guest post here from Stephanie's sister, Lesli, per Stephanie's request.
So many of you dear family members, friends and even perfect strangers have been offering to help in any way you can. Stephanie and Jonathan would like anyone who wishes to do something to make a donation of any amount on behalf of Camille to the LDS Humanitarian Fund. This fund provides newborn kits to new mothers, wheelchairs to invalids, food to the hungry, floors, roofs and school books for schools, medical supplies and so much more to underprivileged nations. Steph and Jon saw many of these things being done in Africa as our parents worked as LDS Humanitarian Aid missionaries. You can easily donate online in memoriam of Camille Waite. Click here to make a donation. 
You will be able to enter Camille's name and you will be asked to enter the Waite's mailing address. If you need this information please email me: and I will be happy to give you their info.

The memorial service is tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. at the Tropicana/Eastern LDS Chapel. The entire family thanks those of you who are reaching out to Steph and Jon and their family through this blog. Your comments are read and very much appreciated.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


There are certain trials in life that force you into coping mode.  While, this trial makes every other trial in my life seem like a cake walk, the coping mechanisms for trials are the same.

What I AM doing.

Surrounding myself with loved ones.
Keeping busy,
Reading scriptures, conference talks, etc... lots  ... alone, with Jon, and with the girls
Praying ... lots and lots ... as individuals, a couple, and a family
Allowing myself 15 minutes each morning and night to cry in my closet and just let all the hurt out.
Trying to get back to normal life -- (went to pilates today)
Loving and cherishing my kids
Talking to my kids about Camille
Repenting ... Sincerely ... Every day  -- to ensure I am as pure as Camille is pure
Going to the temple
Trying to keep my mind firmly on today and not let it wander to last Friday
Trying to learn and grow all I can from this loss

What I am NOT Doing ...
Asking why me.  I don't believe in that question.  
Isolating myself 
Crying with every person who comes over, even if They cry on My shoulder
Blaming -- not me, not any member of my family, and NOT God
My dishes (thanks family ;)
Cooking (thanks my sisters in the gospel)
Writing my talk for the funeral (been blogging instead)
Dressing Camille -(thanks Moms)- want to remember her how she looked before the autopsy 
Pulling away from my husband
Being angry or feeling life is unfair

Well I think I better change one of those.  Better move the "writing my talk for the funeral" up to the "DOING" list.  

Good night and again THANK YOU for your support and all those prayers from all of you known and unknown.  I REALLY feel their strength pulling me through each day and especially each night.  I am frankly overwhelmed by all this loving support.

Feeling the Weight of my Lightened Load

Our Family
June 7, 2008
This is one of the family pictures taken of us last week.  It is not the best picture of us.  I think Jon and I slept about 4 hours a night for 3 nights before this.  All of us were staying in a 10' x 12' bedroom.  Yes, all six of us.  And we are from Vegas, where in June it is summer.  This vacation we were in Utah at Aspen Grove and it was 40 degrees everyday.  The morning of this photo it was snowing heavily.  My kids were not happy about having to shed their coats for the photos. It was 11 a.m.  An hour past Camille's nap time and right at Lauren's nap time.  Plus both Sabrina and Annie could have used a nap after their late nights waiting for Lauren to quiet down to let them sleep and early morning waking with Camille's cry at 5 a.m.

Personally, I was on the verge of losing it in this photo.  Sleep deprivation does bad things to people.  I know.  I have experience in that department more now than ever before.  With four young kids, I often felt overwhelmed.  I struggled juggling with the youngest two--trying to Lauren the attention she needed and still take care of all Camille's immediate needs and cherish the moments she was in.  I wanted to just hold her and rock her because she was so little and I knew she wouldn't stay little forever.  I didn't want to miss her first step, which she just started doing last week.   She wasn't so busy yet that she wouldn't let me just hold her and love her.  She would snuggle against my chest and wrap her little arms around me.  She loved the attention and being held.  

But I still had Lauren, who was still trying to find her place in our family now that she wasn't the baby.  That was a hard transition for her.  And I was trying to give her all the attention she needed.  I was the third kid in my family.  My younger brother's were identical twins.  As soon as they came along, well, let's just say I was attention deprived as a child and did all I could to get attention.  Our family videos are filled with my parents telling me to move out of the picture.  That it wasn't my birthday etc...  So I wanted to give Lauren the positive attention so she wouldn't have to act crazy to get it.  It was a difficult juggling act most of the time.

Lately, I had been seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.  Lauren and Camille had been playing together more.  Camille was finally old enough to play a game or two.  Lauren had been playing better with Ann Marie as well.  Lauren was finally old enough to get Annie's games.  Once in a while I felt like maybe I could have another kid someday.  Three had been easy for me.  Four felt overwhelming, but I knew it would get better and it was getting better.

Now I am back to taking care of three.  And Lauren is not acting out for attention anymore. The girls all play well together most of the time.  Three is easy.  Three is easy and yet Only Three is so so hard.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


So many hands,

So many hands,

Hands crossing the generations,
Interwoven between Heaven and Earth,
Knit into a circle of strength,
Forming a circle of prayer and love.

While Camille was in the hospital I had my sister in law Elizabeth (who is an awesome photographer) come from California and take detail pictures of every possible part of my little baby girl.  I don't want to forget any part of her tiny body.  The picture is the first she has shared with me.  It is when I was lying in the bed next to Camille with my arm around her and my mother is on the other side of the bed holding Cami's little hand in both of hers.  Thanks Elizabeth.  Priceless seems an inadequate expression at the moment.  Thanks also to Heather Gibb who took our family photos last week and has generously shared her work with us so quickly.  My heart is so grateful.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Matters of Business

You know one of the hardest parts of this experience has been all the jobs to be done.  The police doing their investigation of the incident to determine if there was criminal negligence, the interviews only minutes after we called 911, the search warrant on the house, Child Protective Services interviewing us and visiting the house that night, the coroner having to question us an hour after she died.  All these good people just doing their jobs.  All standard procedure in death not by natural causes.  But these are not talks you expect or even consider when this nightmare of finding your baby... I'm not going go back there.

Now today we have to go pick out a coffin, another matter of business.  Not as distasteful as those already attended to but certainly not one I ever wanted to do.

I have to throw out an enormous thank you to my family.  They have attended to so many matter of the matters of business.   They are helping with compiling photos and videos of Camille, helping with funeral arrangements, fielding questions and talking on the phone for me so I don't have to start crying again.  They are working on flowers and programs and my dad is working on finishing the construction around our spa to make it safe with a gate. (We had only had the spa for 5 days).  All these matters of business that I am just not wanting to do.

Speaking of matters of business I have a couple for those of you reading:  anyone who wanted to send flowers we would rather you send a card to us letting us know you sent a donation to the LDS Church Perpetual Education Fund or LDS Humanitarian Services in Camilles name. We want as much good to come from her short life as possible.  In fact we were able to donate her heart for heart valves to save the lives of 2 other children.

Last matter of business, it has come to my attention that there may be some people coming in town for the funeral who are not immediate family.  I am so touched that you would come.  The funeral itself will be short and I will have no time to hug and say hello to people at that time. We are limiting the graveside service to immediate family only.  However, for any who have traveled from out of town to come we want to see you.  Please come to my parents house after lunch.  We will be gathering there at my parents at 1 p.m.  This invitation is only for those traveling from out of town.  The rest of you I can greet another time.  

Again thanks for the prayers.  I really do feel them.  I have a strengthened testimony of the power of prayer to strengthen and steady in times of trial.

Monday, June 16, 2008

An Angel in the Family

A couple of things have really struck me as precious blessings at this time and I wanted to note them.  Two weeks ago we went on vacation and left Camille with her grandmothers.  This gave our grandparents their first real time to get to know Camille.  During this time Grandma Waite was able to write a song for Camille.  (she writes one for every grandchild and hadn't gotten to Camille's yet)  Also, last week we went to a Waite Family reunion where all the extended Waite family got to enjoy Camille.  At this reunion we took family photos.  I hadn't gotten a good one with Camille in it yet.  I cannot express how grateful I am that we have a decent family photo with her.  We also got some great individual shots of her and wonderful shots of her and me together.  The one above is one of those and just looks angelic to me.  How many people get to have a bonafide angel in their family?

Thanks again for the comment posts, and the prayers.  I have really felt strengthened today.  It has been so much better than yesterday and worlds better than the day before.  Day by day I guess.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Camille Kathleen Waite

Thank you all for your prayers.  I have felt their strength today.  I will be brief in this post.  

We removed the ventilator today just after 4 p.m. today.  With the tubes removed I was able to hold Camille's limp heavy body and rock her for a few minutes.   Jon then took a turn holding her. It was extremely peaceful.  She took a couple of scatter shallow breaths and quickly let go of her last physical tie to this earth.  The doctors called the time of her death at 4:15 p.m.  We were able to hold her and bath her and be with her little body till 6 p.m.

We will hold a memorial service at the LDS Church on Tropicana at Burnham (just west of Eastern) on Saturday at 9 a.m.  No one should feel obligated to come but anyone who would like to is welcome.  It will be simple and short- 30 minutes at most I hope.  There will be no viewing.  

Please be at peace.  We are.  Our sorrow, which knows no bounds, comes in waves crashing over us, but we do feel peace.  In the great plan of our Father, All is Well.  

"And should we die, before our journeys though, All is well All is well."  Come Come Ye Saints

Thank you again for your faithful fasting, prayers, and support.  It is needed and felt.


Camille Update

Thank you all for your comments of support and love. I wanted you to know that Camille is fine. Her body is not but she herself is fine. Jon and I have felt that strongly over the last 2 days. Her body functions have begun shutting down over the last day or so and she will not be with us much longer on this earth. I feel strongly that she has not been in her body since the accident.

Thank you for your prayers and faith and fasting on her behalf. We all feel that she is whole and well and not in pain where she is. Unfortunately for us, we see that it is not the Lord's will that she remain here with us. It is a difficult answer to receive. But we do feel a great peace and a sense that all of this - all the events of the last two days -- even the last few weeks have been in the Lord's plan for us and for Camille.

We will most likely be turning off her respirator this afternoon at four o'clock. Her heart is the only part of her body still functioning. We ask that your prayers be with us today- this afternoon- especially and in the coming weeks and months. We do gain strength from them and right now we need more strength than we have ever needed before.

Thanks again for the comments of support. I read them when I feel strong and able.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Pray for Camille

As some of you have already heard, late yesterday afternoon Camille was involved in a tragic accident. She fell into the hot tub at the house and drowned. When found she was unconscious and not breathing. She is currently in an extremely critical condition and in a comatose state at St. Rose Sienna Hospital.

Jonathan, Stephanie and family have been exercising the principle of prayer. We would ask you to do the same. We know that what happens to Camille is in God's hands. While we don't know what his will is with her yet, we would never ask anything less from God than what He can do. We ask you to be specific in your prayers and only ask God for the miracle of a full recovery. If you are able, please couple your prayers with fasting. Also, talk to any others you know of great faith and pass on this request.

At this time we ask for no calls but for you to wait for word from us and to continually keep Camille in your prayers until then. Thank you for your support at this difficult time.

We are finding comfort through these passages on prayer: Mormon 9 and Joshua 1.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


One of the defining features of a true vacation for me is getting lost in a good book.  Some trips we take as a family don't allow me the pleasure of reading because I am too busy being Mom to take the time out for myself to read.  On the other hand, when I allow myself the pleasure of reading a good book it is always a mini vacation no matter where I am.  This feeling is enhanced ten fold if my reading is not interrupted by changing diapers, sorting out arguments, helping with homework, or cooking meals.

Recently I have had two very nice book vacations.  First, a couple weeks ago I read "The Host" by Stephenie Meyer.  This is the adult science fiction by the author of the Twilight series.  I loved the Twilight series and though I was skeptical about reading a book about aliens, I loved the Host.  I am not sure I loved it as much as the Twilight series, but it kept me turning pages and wanting to know what would happen next.  

I read this book at home.  I read a bit here and there at first.  Then after about 250 pages or so I woke up at 6 am one morning and after putting whoever woke me up back to bed I started to read.  I kept reading.  I did have to stop to change a diaper or two.  I did have to put people down for naps.  But mostly I just read.  I didn't cook.  I didn't eat.  I didn't really move from my chair.  I just wanted to devour that book and do it all at once with as few interruptions as possible.  Thanks to my husband working from home and totally picking up my slack that day, I finished the 617 page book by dinner time and was able to "come home" from my mini vacation day and cook food for the family to eat.

Now Jon is reading the book and though he thinks parts are slow, I think he likes it overall.  I have been reading some of it to him out loud in the car as we have travelled and have been enjoying a second go round at it too.

So if you want a fun read that will help you explore what it truly is to be "human."  Take a mini vacation with the host.  It will help you see humanity and love through new eyes.

The second book I have vacationed with was The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.  This book came highly recommended by my sister and aunt to my mother.  I stole it from her before she could start it so I would have something to read on my trip to the family reunion in Aspen Grove, Utah.  Next to spending time with family, this book was the highlight of the trip for me.  Utah was pretty darn cold for June.  It snowed one day.  So I snuggled up with my book and enjoyed a rather crazy demented story of a fictional author's real life story.  

The book was very well written and kept me in suspense about the truth throughout.  The story line itself was ... well it kinda reminded me of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriela Garcia Marquez.  It was lots of crazy, somewhat uncomfortable relationships and events that were tied into one life story.  I told my husband the basic story after I finished and he kept saying "WHAT???  He did WHAT?  And you liked this book?"  But I have found that a really talented writer, like a really talented teacher can make almost anything interesting.  I was fairly engrossed in this novel and enjoyed my reading in the beautiful setting of the mountains.

Anybody out there got any suggestions on what to read?  I am sure I will be needing another "vacation" before too long.