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


kdskids said...

I think that we all want that "lasting change" and we all feel very blessed to be a part of it.

So many hearts have been touched by Camille. How truly amazing it is, to see what the Lord can do, when we let him in.

Your burden is not a new one, yet through your willingness and amazing talents, the Lord has lifted and lightened many a load.

This all is only possible because you have chosen to "let your light shine forth".

Stephanie, I am so grateful for your friendship and your family.

We have all been blessed to be here and to see the Lord's hand in the blessing that is Camille.


Hoskins Family said...

Beautiful sentiments! Love you!

Mythreesons said...

So well put, Stephanie. I couldn't agree more. Being several degrees removed from your heartache, I too, have found myself hoping that I would remember my feelings right now... remember to be slower to yell at the boys and quicker to hug them. I think of you guys first thing almost every morning and it's a constant reminder to love my kids more, be more patient, and be more loving. I'm so grateful you've chosen to share your thoughts and feelings... they are such a strength and inspiration to me and a wonderful reminder to try and be just a littel better every day, just a little more loving.

L.Harris-Kolp said...

We don't know each other but I have been touched by reading your beautiful blog. I wanted you to know that I am praying for you and your family. I, too, have been dealing with tragedy. My dear friend commited suicide a few months ago. It has been very difficult, but it has drawn me closer to God and I have had some awesome spiritual experiences I have written about on my blog. My husband has been dealing with severe neck pain for three years now and finally had to have risky neck surgery last week. I feel strongly that my energetic friend has sent me some of her energy from Heaven to help me deal with it and care for my three young children. God is close to the broken-hearted and He is wrapping his arms around you and your family. Sincerely, Laurie
P.S. My maiden name was Harris too!

janet said...


This morning I read an article in the July Ensign by Elder Ballard. The title is Sharing the Gospel Using the Internet. As I read it, I thought of you and your blog (which I read for the first time yesterday) and I just want you to know that you are in this position for a reason. Your writing is excellent... You are able to be REAL with your feelings. Your situation is raw and painful, yet you have hope and happiness and peace and the WORLD can learn from you and your example. If you don't mind, I would like to refer those who read my blog to yours.. because we all need to be a little more patient with our children and feel more peace in our lives. Since "meeting" you and your family, I have stopped caring so much about things that DON'T matter and tried putting all my attention on things (which aren't really THINGS) that DO matter. Thank you for sharing and being so open. Keep it up!


Shanan said...

It's not easy to notice the blessings and positive changes through such a tragedy. It offers such strength to see you do just this. We're thinking of you, Jon and the girls! - Shanan

Anonymous said...

I don’t know if you remember me, but I remember you from growing up in Las Vegas. I am Tanya Stewart’s younger sister. I have been quietly following your story. Tanya told me on the Saturday after the accident what was going on. I have been on your blog several times a day since. In the beginning I wondered why I feel so strangely connected to this story and these people. I have cried everyday since I found out. I think about you and your family often throughout the day and especially at night when I put my children to bed. You have been at the forefront of my mind for the last 2 and a half weeks. We pray for you all, even Camille.

I know I am not a part of your life, but you all have become a big part of mine. Your story and amazing strength have made an impression upon my soul. I am a different person because of all that has happened. I am a better mother and person. In the beginning I was angry and sad. I have small children and my thought was that this just can’t be. No person should have to bear this. I know I could not. I was very focused on Camille being your little baby and not the person and individual that she is. I wasn’t seeing her as a child of God with her own purpose and path. It is because of your blogging that I have since realized that she may have been infant in state and body here on earth, but is an adult, for lack of a better word, in heaven. She is a person in your family that is leading a way for you. I didn’t notice it at first. We, as the parents, are supposed to lead them, right? I guess not always. It is because of this that leads me to believe that this beautiful child of yours was wise beyond her time and age.

I can now see my children more as individuals and less of just my children. I have become more patient with them and have stopped to listen more closely. I hold them a little tighter and for a little longer.

I have begun to leave a comment several times. Every time words have failed me. I am not a great writer and to put my thoughts out in written format is difficult for me. I have felt guilty to have gained something from your loss. I have felt like I shouldn’t even be reading your blog, it is really none of my business. However, I can’t stop. Your words have inspired me and given me strength. I feel like your posts have become daily feedings for my soul. I would never have told you this, except for your post today. I believe we were all changed by 9/11. So completely removed from the story, yet connected by the mere fact that we are also mothers, daughters, sisters, brothers, sons, fathers, people, etc. It is the same in this tragedy. I am completely removed from your story, yet not so strangely connected.

Thank you for sharing and answering all of our question, “How are you?” Blogging is an interesting thing. I still cry almost everyday. I know it will eventually subside, but the life lessons, reminder of purpose, and strength I have received from you, will not. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

"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."

Stephanie, your profound testimony and witness have again touched my heart.

I am reminded of the Words of Christ: “Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do to me.” (Matthew 25:40)

"Dirty diapers" and other mundane tasks often make us forget the sheer simplicity of Christ's teachings. How blessed we are that He is such a patient and forgiving teacher.

You have said that you wanted some true meaning/purpose to come of Camille's early passing.

It has, Stephanie. I truly has.

Let your heart be light in the knowledge that your family is being held up in prayer all across your nation .. and beyond. Also know that many people have been changed in such a positive way by your own little Camille.

Heather said...

Y o U are truly amazing! I'm addicted to your blog.. you uplift me so much!! Your family is one special family!

Anonymous said...

You may not remember me, but I just wanted you to know that people that you aren't even aware of are thinking about you.

I just heard about Camille this Saturday and just wanted to let you know how sad I am to know you're going through all of this.

She is beautiful! Your other girls are too. You have a beautiful family and I'm glad you all have each other.

Danielle McKinney (Eastman)

Marleen said...

That feeling of love for mankind I felt on my mission so strongly. After coming home, I have realized it has been a constant struggle to keep that feeling from leaving. Sometimes it has and then usually through a humbling experience that feeling is revived. I pray we can all remember like you say.

Janae said...

Thank you once again for your words of wisdom. What a greater world this would be if everyone could learn to just love one another.

Just me! said...

I am speechless. I am also one of the many that have stumbled upon your blog and have read every word with tears in my eyes. Wow.

I also have small children and I couldn't imagine losing any one of them. You are right, some of our trials are harder than others. My 6 year old little guy was diagnosed with Diabetes 2 years ago. I have struggled and fought with this burden. But thanks to you I now know how blessed I am. He is alive and well. Despite the side effects and frustrations of diabetes, I can still hold him, enjoy his cute little laugh, and kiss his sweet cheeks at night. My boys have been hugged tighter today than yesterday. Thank you for your testimony, your strength and your words of wisdom. You have helped me see the the part of life that is 'truely' important.

Also, thank you Camille for your amazing sacrifice that has made a difference in so many lives. I know your family is blessed beyond their knowledge and you are at their sides helping them carry on through this mortal existence. I am sure it helps your parents know that a part of you is still alive due to their willingness to donate your organs. That, in and of itself, is amazing!!!

Thank you again for sharing this part of your life with us. I know those feelings and memories are very very tender and it says a lot when you are willing to share with us, to help us be better so we can all return to our Heavenly Father again.

a far away mom said...

I have yet to post, because we do not know each other and I know I have nothing profound to say.

I do want you to know that your honesty and testimony is powerful and has the ability to change others. It has changed me. You are an amazing person. I hope you will feel some peace in knowing how much your family is touching those near and far.

Bless you and your family. You have become part of my daily prayers.

Raena Johnson said...

I, like so many others, have also been profoundly changed by your words and experience. You have touched me so deeply that I am almost embarrassed to admit that my testimony has been strengthened more from this than anything else in my entire life! You have saved a soul through your writing and experience - "how great shall be your joy." I have prayed like never before, read my scriptures like never before, gained a testimony of eternal families like never before. Please continue to write your story so that you can uplift us. Camille's experience has had much more of a profound experience than you can even imagine and I somehow know that she and Heavenly Father are looking down and smiling. If only we could all be as close to Him as she is right now.

Carolyn said...

Wow Stephanie! And these comments are amazing and oh so so true! I love you.

Keli said...

You don't know me but I am a member of the church in Alabama. I came upon your blog by accident, but it really wasn't. I lost my grandmother in May and had been having a hard time with it. I have been praying for comfort and nothing really has helped. I have read every post you have done since your precious Camille's death. You have brought some peace in my dark time. Thank you for your strong faith and beautiful words. It has reconnected me to mine. God be with us till we meet them again. I know he will be....

Lee said...

I am new to your site. But I am sitting here in tears for you. What a great blessing we have of the gospel, and of the plan that Jesus Christ has for us. My heart aches for your family, and you are included in our prayers. More the Lord bless you with peace.

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you and your family. Sending lots of love and hugs.

Jane from Australia

hoLLy said...

i found your blog through another blog today and i just wanted to tell you my heart is heavy tonight as i read through your blog. i have three daughters so it has hit close to home for me. i am so sorry you lost your precious daughter. so so sorry. i am lds as you are. i don't know if i could get through a loss like that without knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ. its a blessing to know that families are forever. you and your entire family are in my thoughts and prayers. camille was and is a beautiful angel. lots of love~fellow lds blogger, hoLLy

Barbara Jones said...

Dear Stephanie,

I am a total stranger, but my sister-in-law just emailed me your blog after telling me she'd spent two hours reading it, crying, then hugging her kids a little tighter. Now I've done the same--I have a six-year-old girl and a two-year-old girl and I can't wait until they wake up so I can hold them again.

My good friend's cousin just lost a one-year-old baby girl to a tragic drowning in June. I'm going to let her know about your blog in hopes that it will help her.

I've never lost a child, so I can't say I know how you feel or what you are going through. I can only say that I am so very, very sorry, and that I sorrow with you even though we've never met. But I know there is One who does perfectly understand what you feel and knows perfectly how to succor, and I can see that you are letting Him do that.

As I was reading your email, I was surprised to see a picture of your sister, Lesli. Lesli is a long, lost friend of mine, and I was wondering if I could trouble you to send her my email address? It's I'd love to get in touch with her again. Thank you!

I send my prayers and my heartfelt condolences to you and your family.

Barbara Jones Brown

Lara said...

I do not know you, but right now I definately feel like I do. I've read through some of your posts today and have cried many tears for you and the family. I just wanted to say that you are such an amazing example of faith, hope, and eduring to the end. Your daughter is watching over you and I can only imagine how proud she is of you and your faith. Your reunion in heaven will be the sweetest most amazing experience. I smile at the thought of it. Bless you and your family.

All my love and hugs,


jimnalli said...

I dont know you, but I found this blog through a friend's. I have 4 children and am LDS as well. I have loved reading your blog. you are such an example to me! Thank you for all your words you have typed through your pain. I will never forget some of the things you have taught me.