Sunday, July 20, 2008

Christmas in July

The Cabin at the Riverbend

This weekend we escaped the Las Vegas heat to spend a day in the Utah mountains at my parents cabin. My two older girls are going up this coming weekend for a "cousin's camp." Annie and I had an interesting conversation about this.

"So mom, when are we coming for cousin's camp?" Annie asks.
"We go home tomorrow," I reply. "Then we will be at home for 3 days. Then you will come back with your cousins."
Annie gets an excited look on her face and asks, "So mom when we come back for cousin's camp, will there be SNOW???"
I laughed a little and said "No, honey. It is summer. There won't be snow."
A crushed look came over Annie's face. She is by far my most dramatic child. "But Mama, I love the snow. I want to play in the snow. When will there be snow?"
"It has to be winter for the snow to come," I explain. "It won't be till about Christmas."
"But that will never come. That is SOOO far away. I hate summer. I want it to be winter so we can play in the snow and drink hot chocolate."
A light dawns in my head. Here I am in the Father's role and here is my sweet child in mine.
"I know it seems like a long way away, honey," I say tenderly. "There is a time and a season for all things and this is not the season for snow."
"But I like the snow so much more, Mama," Annie pleads.
"I know. I know. But sometimes we have to wait for things that we love. Sometimes we have to wait what seems like forever and it feels like it will never come," I explain. "But it will come. The snow will come. Christmas will come. It may not feel like it right now but it will come. We must have patience until then. In the meantime there are so many things to do here in the summer that we can't do in the winter. In the winter we can't throw rocks in the river. We can't play outside without coats and mittens in the winter. You need to go do the things you can only do in the summer now."
"I still like the winter better," she says. She is disappointed.
"I know honey," I say with sincere empathy. "I know."

I remember how far away Christmas felt when I was a child. It seemed like another world away. I feel like that now. The day I will see my daughter again seems like it is so incredibly far away. I know it will come, just as Christmas always did, but it still seems so far away. 

This little talk with Annie has made me want very much to appreciate this "summer" time in my life more. This is going to take great effort. As a part of that effort, I want to share some of my favorite things or moments that made me smile recently. 

Welcome to my own personal Christmas in July! 

Top ten happy moments today:

10) Seeing an old friend and roommate at church in Duck Creek this morning. Hi Nann!
9) Singing along with the "How Does He Know" song from Enchanted with my kids.
8) Annie coming in to my room while I was crying to inform me that I was invited to come to the "fancy restaurant" in the kitchen for the fine dining Daddy dinner of chicken nuggets.
7) Lauren informing her Dad that she was putting herself to bed.
6) Blog comments 
5) Talking to my husband on the way home in the car about how we can keep our family close as our kids grow up.
4) Silly girls laughing hysterically at each other and at the movie in the car on the way home.
3) A giant hug from my mom and a teary "I love you and am so proud of you," as we said goodbye leaving the cabin. (OK that one made me cry more than smile but it was still a great moment.)
2) The arrival of my brother Morgan and sister-in-law Elizabeth and their wonderful kids to stay the week at our house.
1) Email from Brittany, my new friend who lost her son Daxton the same week Camille drowned.  You can see her blog here. It is wonderful to have friends on this journey through grief to walk step by step with you in the same shoes. Her emails make me smile through my tears. Love to you Britt!

Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight!


Jill said...

My name is Jill, and I found your blog through my friend Shanan. I just want you to know how much your blog has touched me. Thank you for sharing your journey with all of the ups and downs, what a tribute to your beautiful family. My siser passed away when she was three and a lot of your posts remind me of things that my mom has said about when Caroline died. Hugs and prayers for you and your family!

kathryn_m said...

Dear Stephanie:

Your ability to take what seems like just an ordinary moment and turn it into an amazing teaching/learning perspective is one of the many qualities that make your gift of writing so spectacular.

I love your list of happy things. I am especially touched by your Mom's words.

Your Annie sounds like she would love our climate north of the tundra. We often describe our weather as being 11 months of winter and 1 month of bad weather. :-)

However, having lived her young life in places like California and Las Vegas, I would hasten to add she might quickly change her tune. :-)

I hope you enjoyed a peace-filled time at the cottage. I find that a change of scenery is unusually refreshing.

Sleepless In St. George said...

oh...if you pass through St. George and need a resting place you are welcome to stop by....or we could meet up for cupcakes!

Ms. Kristen said...

I have been linked to your blog.....YOU INSPIRE ME TO BE A BETTER PERSON! May Heavenly Father bless you with continual peace.

Anonymous said...

You continue to find the good in this life. Have you considered linking your email, so that many of us who want to send uplifting thoughts can do so, without posting on your blog?

Anonymous said...

Your post reminds me of the talk "Sunday Will Come" by Elder Wirthlin. Have fun with my sister this week. Ask Charlotte what her name is. I think it is the funniest thing I've ever heard :)

My love to your family!

Tiffany said...

What a beautiful post!! How wise to see that conversation through eternal eyes! I totally had to read this to my husband... what a beautiful way to get a small "grasp" on eternal perspective! Thank you AGAIN for sharing... I am a better person now than when I came to your blog a few minutes ago!

karen said...

Still thinking of you, praying for you. It is good to hear so many, myself included, have been inspired by Camille. Karen Stewart

Shawna Wilson said...

That is such a wonderful way of looking at this life and how very short it is compared to the eternities. Christmas will come for you and it will be the best one ever! I love your writing and look forward to reading it everyday. I can always feel the spirit strongly and it encourages me to be a better person. Like many others have said over and over again, thank you! And also thank you sweet Camille for your sweet spirit and great work! You are so LOVED!

LL said...

you absolutely AMAZE me. I check your blog daily, sometimes multiple times....just to check up on you and be uplifted myself.
Thank you AGAIN for sharing your world with're inspiring!

Chelsea said...

That is a wonderful thought. I definitely need to work harder at enjoying the "summer". "Christmas" will come in its own time. Thank you for the reminder to be patient and appreciate what I have now!

Raena Johnson said...

Brings new meaning and insight to the saying that "The days are long but the years are short." I used to say this to myself when I was having a long day with my three little ones 3, 2 and 5 months but once we realize how short the years will seem, somehow we figure out how to get through the days.

I was glad to read that you are still crying too. I am still in tears when I read your thoughts - it feels good. An old jewish proverb that "God counts the tears of women and children." He knows every tear you shed.

Shawna Wilson said...

I also wanted to mention - our lesson in Relief Society today was called "Words of Hope and Consolation at the Time of Death." I could not stop thinking about you and what you are going through. It was a really great lesson and if you haven't had it yet, maybe the spirit was prompting me to tell you to read through it. I always keep you in my thoughts and prayers, and again thank you for uplifting me and so many others!

Jenna said...

I love this post. you are the future general relief society president one day, I know it. You have the best testimony and such a way with words. I pray everyday for you. My youngest is Camille's age, and everytime I look at her I think of your Camille. I think of what a noble spirit she is and the work you are both doing. She makes me remember to love every minute we are blessed with, and I will never forget Camille and your family. What an inspiration you are to me. Much love- Jenna Lines

KC said...

Hi Stephanie,
I used to be Kaycee Milne, now I'm Kaycee Parker. We went to Chaparral together. I was in band and I recognize you. We weren't close friends, but I remember you. I want to let you know that ever since I found out about your baby,(my sister is friends with Leslie Street) I can't stop thinking about you. I have two beautiful girls myself and I feel your pain so deeply. Any time I think about you I say a little prayer for you. I must say that you have an amazing outlook on life and such an understanding of the Plan. You are an inspiration.

Margaret said...

Dear Stephanie,

Thank you For your willingness to share. Brittany is my daughter and I appreciate you more than you will ever know... Thank you from the bottom of my broken heart.

Cami said...

Thank you for sharing your incredible story with us all. You are an inspiration and an example to everyone who reads your sweet and eloquent words.

Anonymous said...

My friend Becky Pili felt I needed to read your blog. We have a bit in common. See my daughter Brea's site http.// I am devastated for your family. It was 2 years on June 20 that our Angel, at 17 months and 1 day, died while napping with my husband. I hope to correspond a bit with you. Take care,
Janelle McCormack-Walton

Rach said...

What a beautiful analogy, and a fabulous list! :o)

Although I'm devastated there is yet another mom going through this, I'm grateful you have someone who knows where you are on this journey.

HUGS, Steph. :o)

LKHarris-Kolp said...

What a beautiful place to feel close to God and Camille! Thank you for sharing it with us. I'll be thinking of you today as I try to make it through the extreme Southeast Texas heat. Snow would be nice.
Laurie :)

noorda notebook said...

so THAT'S where you've been :)

glad you guys had such a delightful weekend with family.


Marleen said...

You have such a way in helping others understand what you are going through. A very uplifting way. A way that makes me want to do better to be better.

Mimi's Toes said...

What a perfect way to explain to your child about the seasons. I just love reading your blog. That cabin is such a beautiful retreat. I do agree with your daughter about the snow. I am more of a winter person too.

Marylin and Jimmy said...

What an amazing post! I think that Heavenly Father uses little children to say the things we need to hear at just the right time! What a blessing. My thoughts are with you and will continue to be.

Rachel said...

What a wise insight. It has often struck me while I'm preaching patience to my children, and telling them to be grateful for what they have instead of focusing on what they don't have, my wise Heavenly Father is up there shaking His head, thinking, "If only she would practice what she preaches." It's easy to feel that I've mastered patience and gratitude compared to my children (some days anyway), but if I'm honest with myself I know I haven't even come close.

And your analogy is also such a great illustration of what faith does and doesn't do. We believe we will see our loved ones again as surely as we know Christmas will come, and that does bring some comfort, but it doesn't completely erase the pain of the wait, it doesn't make it seem any shorter.

Heidi said...

I have been stalking your blog now for the past month and seriously amaze me! Thank you for your perspective and inspiration.
This post makes me think of the country song, "You're Gonna Miss This" by Trace Adkins. Ever since that song came out I have tried to remember that I AM going to miss this time with my young ones. Changing diapers, dealing with tantrums, up in the night, early mornings, etc. will all be things I miss when they are older and life changes. Just like since reading your blog I try to cherish each moment with my kids while I have them here.
Thank you a million times over for your strength. It has inspired me.

Katie said...

Hey Stephanie,
I met you up at the cabin, Im Jared's wife. I must confess I have blog stalked you for a while,but after "oficially" meeting you I just wanted to tell you that I think you are truly amazing! I cant imagine the roller coaster ride of emotions your family has been through. You inspire me to be better in all that I do. I am deeply sorry for your loss.

Vera said...


Thank you so much for your answer and inspiration - I really wasn't expecting "my own post" :)

Your christmas post made me smile though: we do currently have cold and rainy november weather and are all waiting for the summer to come. So maybe your kids want to visit me ;)

Six-Pack Momma said...

Thank you so much for your insight. That is beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Your blog is such an inspiration to me. Everytime I read I think, "this is how I want to be". I know how to get there and have started really reading my scriptures again and praying. Thank you for helping me to get back on track.

Can I ask you a question? Several times in this blog you have said that you will be able to raise Camille to maturity. In one of your posts you said that in the hospital you felt Camille in the room as a spirit, but it was not the spirit of a baby. It was her full grown. Here is my question - If Camille is a fully mature spirit right now, will she be asked to return to her baby body when she is resurrected and once again have the physical limitations that having an infant body demands? Will she be a fully mature spirit in a baby body? I always thought that when we were resurrected we would be ressurrected to our perfect state, but I have also heard that mothers will be given the opportunity to raise their babies lost in death to full maturity. I guess I am having trouble reconciling the two ideas. Do you have any insight?

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say thank you.You are helping me with the death of my grandson 3month ago. Just reading your blog helps so much. Thank you so much ggf in california

R & K said...

Hi Stephanie, you don't know me. I found your blog after hearing your story from Emily Nelson. I have been so captured by your strength and testimony. I just want you to know that even though I don't always comment. You are always in my thoughts and prayers. I know Camille is so proud of you and the way that you are sharing her message.

Alisha said...

The cabin is beautiful. Great idea about listing top ten happy's of the day...I could use this too!

Catherine said...

We're all "so proud of you," though I know the words mean even more when your mother says them.

Shanan said...

I love the pictures of the cabin - between you and Lesli's pictures, it only makes me want to be there! One day ... one day ... Aaron & I want to take a vacation up there with you.
Enjoy the summer - as it is always certain that Christmas will come ;) Much Love.

Stephanie said...

This post rang true with me! (and had me in tears) Isn't that the key to happiness, enjoy the season you're in!? The heat of summer sounds heavenly in the cold of winter, and right now in Vegas, cold winter nights are very appealing! You seem so natural at explaining things to your kids in a simple way. Maybe I'll have to put you on speed dial to help me out when my kids stump me!

McDonald Army Brats*** said...

Wow! Duck creek. I have been to the church outside there. It is beautiful. A definite great experience. My husband's family had a cabin in Strawberry for the longest time. Such a small world!