Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Inside the Heart

One of the tulips at Camille's funeral.  It looks a little heart shaped don't you think?

"Oh Honey, I can't believe it has been more than a year since you have come for a massage," my mother-in-law's massage therapist says to me as I arrive for the massage she set up as a treat for me.  "Yes," I say.  Sometimes, when my emotions are close to the surface I find it easier to say as little as possible.

"Well we are going to have some work to do on you then," she says as we enter the massage room.  "So tell me, does it hurt anywhere or are you just here for relaxation?"

A simple daily question.  "Does it hurt anywhere?"  My insides scream "YES!  It hurts everywhere.  Especially this gaping whole in the middle of me where Camille is supposed to be clinging to me.  Is there a reflexology spot that will alleviate that pain?"  I pause taking a more physical assessment. 

"No, I am just here to ... relax," I conclude.  Relax.  Yes that word seems a bit foreign to me lately.  Pleasure ... Enjoyment ... Relaxation.  I am going to have to relearn to be friends with these words.  I am working on that.  I know Camille didn't want those things to leave me when she left.  I am working on it for her and for my family.  It is coming ... slowly.

I strip down and get under the sheet.  The music is soothing.  My massage therapist returns to the room and warms her hands and begins her rub down.  I am lying on my back and she is working on my head and face.  

"Does it hurt anywhere?" Her question echos in my mind.  I swing between ironic inner laughter and deep searing pain in response to each echo.  I struggle to keep my emotions in check.  She obviously knows nothing of the recent events in my life.

Her warm hands apply pressure to my forehead as two traitorous tears escape my stronghold and role slowly down my face as she massages and warms.  I consider telling her to excuse my emotions as I am prone to cry when I am relaxed lately.  As I consider this I feel the weight of the burden of my sorrow heavy on my chest.  It is too large a burden to pass casually to an unsuspecting stranger.  I keep my mouth closed determined not to allow anymore escapees.

"I see you are hydrating well.  What are you doing for exercise?" she asks.  

"Pilates," I reply. "Hydrating well," I think. "I guess that is one way to put it.  I am certainly producing plenty of hydration."  

I think of my older brother filling me a glass of water the week before and asking me if I was hydrating well.  "At least 4 big cups of water a day," he told me handing me a full glass.  He was worried about me.  So was I.  I took the water glad for the reminder to drink.  

Back in the massage room I think "you need to do better at that Stephanie.  With all the water going out you need to put more in."     

The massage continues and again I hear the echo, "does it hurt anywhere?"  I do another assessment.  There is not a single pain in my body.  I barely feel the pleasure of the massage. The storm of my emotions has receded and I feel the anesthetic numbness God provides us in times of shock.  It is a respite from the storm of emotions I deal with when I am faced with the reality of my loss.  

I await the sweet peace of acceptance in humility that follows these cycles. It always comes after the numbness.  In the numbness, I am able to gather my strength and seek the Lord.  In this almost out of body state, I feel the ministering of nearby angels and drink deeply from their wells of strength. I "hydrate." Then I am more able to reenter reality with an eternal perspective of acceptance and even joy.

Yes, joy.  Joy that I have children.  Joy that I was blessed to be Camille's mother.  Joy that I have a daughter working on our behalves beyond the veil.  Joy to know what good company she is in with wonderful ancestors.  Joy in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  


Hoskins Family said...

I guess we have to let prayer and love be the massage therapist for our spirit. Sending our prayers and love, Daleen

Anonymous said...

I found your blog on Saturday, honestly I don't know how but I have read it everyday since Saturday. My heart hurts for you. Honestly, I cried for you and I don't even know you. I just want to say your faith in God will get you to a place of calm and peace. It won't be tomorrow or next week, who knows when it will happen but it will and I belive this because of my faith in God. I will continue to read daily and also you are in my prayers.

Kdskids said...

You truly have a gift with words.

Keep up your daily therapy, for it has evolved into a very large "group" session.

Thank you for the insights...you are loved!


Brittany said...

I don't even know where to begin. My cousin left me your blog on mine. You say everything perfectly. Your words soothe my own aching heart. I wish I was so eloquent as you, but my words don't come out. All I do is cry. I have drawn strength from you and feel your heartache every bit as much as you do. Everybody grieves differently, everybody's story is different, but the words you have put on paper (blog) are the same words I wish I could write. thank you, Brittany

Brittany said...

i am not a huge communicate through blogging so everyone can see what i wrote, but if you want to email me privately i would love to keep in contact with you. it is still hard for me as well and writing is much easier... well sort of -britt

Amanda said...

Stephanie- I don't know you yet- at least not personaly. I love to read your blog. You are a wonderful writer and express your feeling in a way that helps all of us that are hurting and praying for you and your sweet family. What a comfort it is to know where your sweet baby is right now (not that it takes the pain away) but can help! HANG IN THERE! We pray for you

Adriane said...

You are an amazing woman and such a gifted writer. I don't know you, but found your blog through Molly and Vic's blog. You look very familiar to me though. I just want to tell you that I am praying for you and your family right now. I have four daughters and as I read your blog last night and tonight I just cried for you. I will continue to read your blog and feel my own testimony strengthened as I read your very eloquent, profound thoughts. Camille is beautiful. Thank you so much-Adriane Hapgood

Shawna Wilson said...

That was beautiful. I would not know how to put those feelings into words, but you do it amazingly. Thanks for being an inspiration to all those that view your blog. I hope the angels stay close by to keep filling you up with strength. I'm so glad we have the gospel and the knowledge of eternal families...I'll keep praying for you and your family.

Shawna Wilson - a fellow blogger

The Coleman Family said...

i found your blog through a friend! And i am deeply touched by your story! I am sorry your little girl was taken away to be with the lord so early in life. We really don't know why but we try to understand. I am a member in TN and i wish i was closer because i would hug you! I know you have received a lot of hugs but i think hugs heal the heart. When something of this nature happens we tend to loose ourselves in anger...but god will heal the pain. your words are so soothing to me and your words about Camille are beautiful!
i will continue to read your blog. Please know i think you are a very strong woman!
you are in my prayers!

Anonymous said...

I have wondered several times what it is like for you to come in contact with strangers. Now I know how you handle it and I am so touched. It makes me think how kind I should be to all I come in contact with because you never know what they are carrying in their hearts. Also, I agree with you that Camille would not have wanted to take all of the pleasure, enjoyment and relaxation from your life with her. I hope you find ways to bring them back. I'm glad you got a massage!
Love you, Kathryn

Anonymous said...

Stephanie: Although our situations differ, I can again empathsize with your reluctance to expose your heart to everyone you meet. To me, it sometimes felt like picking a scab off a wound and impeding or negating any healing. I took tole painting classes in the city at the time and was grateful that no one knew me or my trials. I really needed that 3 hours in my "safe space" -- I prayed and reflected while I painted and Heavenly Father soothed my soul. It also strengthened and refreshed me for my mothering tasks. When I really needed an ear & a shoulder, I tended to seek out a friend that I wasn't likely to see very often to lessen the liklihood of my wound be opened unexpectantly. I so needed that tiny measure of control and preparedness. It is untenable for anyone to feel cut & bleeding 24/7.

I continue to pray for you and your sweet family.

Marleen said...

I love that picture. It reminds me of sweet Camille, so loving. When I told you the other day that you have a glow about you, I think I now know where you get it from. When the Spirit is your guide so often, it has to show in your countenance. I wish I could soothe your ache yet it seems like the Lord, who knows your pain perfectly, is beginning to help heal your wound.

MelancholySmile said...

I have wanted to reach out to you ever since I first discovered your blog last week, but words seem so inadequate. Thank you for sharing your testimony. Thank you for putting into words so many things that I've felt myself. I know that Heavenly Father knows us and loves us each as deeply as you love Camille, that he is mindful of you and will lift you through the hardest of days and bring peace to you and your family. As I read your blog every day, weep with you and pray for you, I am reminded of the story of Jesus weeping for Lazarus before he raised him from the dead. Even with the wonderful comfort that comes from certainty of eternal life, it is part of mortality to feel the pain of loss. I wish I could somehow bear some of your burden for you. Perhaps it will be some small comfort to know that you have company in your grief, that there are so many people thinking about you and praying in your behalf. Thank you for sharing your journey. Your sister in the gospel- Natasia

Anonymous said...

Wow! Beautiful. Love you.

Anonymous said...

you are an amazing woman. I don't think a comment will be able to explain the influence your words have had on me, someone you don't even know. I can feel your sincerity in your faith and it has encouraged me to find strength in something/someone beyond myself. I am a new mom, my heart aches and tears fall every time I try to imagine myself in your position, but reading daily about what you're going through helps remind me of what I have. It sounds trite, but I am truly sorry that all this good has come at the expense of your loss.

KMeechudhone said...

First, I am so sorry for your loss. As a mother, losing one of my children is my greatest fear. I am continually amazed at your ability to so eloquently articulate your situation and emotions. I am able to see in my mind the situations you describe. Ken has a tender spot in his heart for your family. Although I don't know you, I feel it would not take long to be good friends. Thank you for sharing your life through this blog. You are in our thoughts and prayers. Kim Meechudhone

Unknown said...

Thank you for expressing a pain that only very few of us can understand. I am sure it must be hard to put it out there for everyone to read because I have experienced the level of pain you are describing, but in a different circumstance. I will think of you and your trust as I continue to develop my own trust in our Father and live day by day. Don't be discouraged about your progress when you feel heartbroken. If you keep going, pressing forward with faith, then know you are not alone. I will do it with you.

Roxanne said...

I love reading your words. You have the ability to put into beautiful words the feelings I have of gratitude for our Savior's sacrifice and love. I would like to have that talent. Your family continues to be in my thoughts and prayers.

s g said...

I have to agree with everyone else, such beautiful words Steph. What a blessing for the numbness, I have heard about it from others going through 'similar situations'. Allowing you to focus on the Lord and not become wholly swallowed by your emotions.

I am so glad you got a massage, even if you didn't enjoy every minute, sounds like you had a good mental break. I loved your 'lasting change' post the other day as well.

Sending hugs and love!

Amber said...

You don't know me. I found your blog thru a friends blog. First of all I am so sorry for your family's loss. I have been reading your words and crying.

I do want to thank you for sharing your words will us to read. I know that it is therapy for you, but at the same time you are helping others. You have helped me realize to cherish my boys & the special gift that they are to us. You have helped me realize that I need to try harder to be a better mom. You have such an awesome testimony. And I pray that your testimony will comfort you and help you comfort the rest of your family. Thanks for sharing.

You have such a beautiful family. I pray that you and your family can be comforted and feel peace.

Kristy said...

Stephanie I am a friend of Janae's and she told us about what happened today at breakfast.

I loved your entry you have a great way of expressing your feelings. It brought back a lot of feeling and memories for me.

My heart goes out to you and your family. I lost a child in different circumstances back in 1999 and your entry touched me. I can tell you that with time things will get better but there will always be that special spot in your heart for the child you lost. I learned that I had to go on with my life for my other children and be for their for them. My daughter was gone but my other children were still here and needed me. I think their need of me kept me going for a long time. My arms still ache to hold her but I look forward to the day when that ache will go away and I can hold her and see her again.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Hang in there! :)

Darleen said...

I hope you were able to get some relaxtion and able to feel a little...relaxed. I love how you used hydration as a symbol of keeping your spirit replenished of the gospel. Wonderful insight. We keep praying for you!!

Lynette said...

This is Chris Thiriot's wife. We heard about your tragedy and have thought and prayed for your family everyday since. I don't know you, but Chris has always talked so highly about you as one of his friends, and from reading your writings I can see he was blessed to have you as a friend. Your strength is amazing and your openenss refreshing. I've cried everyday- tears of sorrow for those who loose their precious little ones nad tears of joy for each moment that I have with my babies. Thank you for reminding all of us of the importance of cherishing every moment and of the Gospel of Jesus Chris. How blessed we are to be a part of Eternal Families. I hope to be able to one day meet you and your family. I know Chris would love to leave a comment and send his love (he's just never got on a blog before!) But, his thoughts are with you and your family.

Tara said...

Stephanie - Like so many of the readers of your blog I am just a stranger who came across your blog from a friend of a friend’s blog. And, like everyone else, I just wanted to let you know that your words have truly touched my heart. I come from a family of four girls and one boy. When I was five, my eighteen month old baby brother passed away in a drowning accident in our pool. I have many of the same memories that you have been describing of what your sweet children are going through - a blue little body, my mother screaming and calling 911, my father doing CPR, my parents trying to explain what happened so that I could better understand, holding my brothers little hand at the funeral. Now that I am a parent myself, I am slowing gaining a better understanding of what my parents must have gone through during this trial. Twenty one years later, although we miss my brother dearly and wish that we had had the chance to spend more time with him here on earth, we all agree that we have grown so much because of his death. His death has been the glue that has held my family together and helped each of us gain a strong testimony of the gospel and the plan of salvation. Your children will grow from this trial and your wonderful example will be so important in this growth. I can’t imagine facing a trial like this without the knowledge of the gospel. I am glad that you have this knowledge to comfort you and your family during this trial.

Anonymous said...

Eternal Father, although my heart aches at the loss of a life that I so tried to preserve, nevertheless I give you thanks, through my tears, that you gave me this child even for a short while, because a longer time, I know, would have made the separation so much more painful.

In your unfathomable designs you have summoned your child as well as my child to your heavenly kingdom where she shall be eternally happy and where she shall pray for those of us who made her entrance into paradise possible by sharing existence with her.

Heavenly Father, help me to realize that she is just as much my child were she to have lived for one hundred years. Through my tears I return to you a daughter that is Yours as much as mine. Amen

--Fr. Supe, S.J.

heather said...

My heart aches as I read this. The depths to which your pain is taking you is incomprehensible. You are always at the forefront of my mind. And every time I stop and hug my kids and love them a little bit more, I think of you. I check your blog daily wondering where life has brought you today. I am grateful that you are sharing your incredible talent for expressing raw emotions. It allows all of us who can't be near you a chance to grieve with you.

Jennica said...

I am so glad that you have the fullness of The Gospel in your lives as to let the Savior help carry this burden.

Your family will be in our prayers.

Jackie Sanders said...

I am just a visitor to your blog, through another link from the Jackson Family.
I admire your hope, strength and courage.
We just have one baby, and one on the way, but your love and faith keep me positive and grateful in the times I"d otherwise find something to gripe about.
Yes, faith in God is what matters.
I admire the sweet moments you share with your family, on your knees, and I am sure there are more then we know.
May the Lord bless bless bless your fantastic family! All our love.
Jeff Jackie and baby Lucy

Anonymous said...

Dear Stephanie,
I am not sure if you remember me, my name is Diane Kinsel, I am a friend of Erin Cranor's and was involved with Tomiyasu PTA. I also was seated at the same table with you at a women's dinner at your church a few months back. I would like to extend my condolences to you and your family. I can remember seeing you at a PTA meeting a short time after Camille was born and I can recall thinking that there was such unity and love between you and your daughter. I enjoyed chatting with you at the church dinner you seemed so down to earth and refreshingly honest. I know there is little anyone can say at so difficult a time but Erin has taught me a great deal about your religion and the strength you have in knowing you will join your loved ones in heaven. I pray that each day breathing will get alittle easier for you. You are in my thoughts and prayers. God Bless, Diane Kinsel

Anonymous said...

Praying for you and your family.

S said...

once again your faith is amazing! My twin sister died when we were a month old and I still feel bitter about it. I pray that I can feel the love that you do.

Just me! said...

WOW!!! Look at all the people that you have touched! So many people that have felt the spirit because of your sacrifice~losing Camille. Thank you!!