Friday, August 1, 2008

Learning to Walk

Sabrina with Me holding Camille up.

Seven weeks. Seven weeks ago tonight was the hardest night of my life. It was the first of many days and nights that redefined the word "hard" for me. I feel like I should be more functional than I feel after so many weeks. Still, I feel partially functional at best and sometimes, I feel totally nonfunctional. 

Today I have been fighting the "if onlys." I woke up to the pounding of the construction workers building the house next to us.  If only they had been building the house that day ... they have a great view of our backyard. 

If only the rest of my life were smooth sailing, I could handle the burden of this loss. If only my kids always obeyed. If only we could retire today and not have to worry about making money. If only I could focus enough to figure the bills. If only I didn't have to live in the real world full of real everyday issues, then I could shoulder this cross better. Maybe then I could learn to walk without falling down.

In the first month, I was carried quite literally through this. I could feel the presence of heaven so strongly in our home. As time wears on, the veil grows thicker and I have to start using my own two feet to walk this road of life. 

For so long I carried my baby girl Camille. 
Now it is she who carries me.

I marvel at the Pioneer women who lost their babies along the trail and had to leave them in shallow graves by the wayside. How did they do it? How did they bear such sorrow? The answer is faith. Their faith caused them to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and walk on. One step at a time, mile after mile they walked. Every step taken in faith. Every step taking them further from the remains of their little one. Every step taking them closer to Zion. 

I hope I can pull myself together better and follow their example. I want to be able to pull my own weight and walk even when the road slopes uphill. I am grateful for so many whose love lifts me in the hardest hours. These are the helping hands that steady me as I learn to walk again.

This has been a day of laughter and tears. My husband thought no one would respond to my last post. I am so glad he was wrong. The funnies have helped me dry my tears today and put a smile on my face. Some of my favorites were the two about the autistic kids and the you tube clip of The Office Jim pranks. Jon has also been enjoying the funnies. Thanks.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I have never left a comment before and wanted you to know how much I appreciate your candor and spirit. You have helped me appreciate my own little ones even more.
As one who has experienced a miscarriage and the death of my nephew, I appreciate your kind words of hope and your suggestions for friends and loved ones of those who grieve.
Thanks for your insight, and please keep sharing.

Heather H said...

Hugs to you!

Brooke said...

The past few days have been hard for me to deal with my little boy. I realized today after reading your most recent post that I need to be grateful for these hard times because, like you, there are many people out there who don't have their little one around to have these difficult moments with. I know everyone has said it, but thank you for gently reminding me to cherish my son more.

Rey and Meegan said...

You ARE walking!! You live your life to the fullest. You see the Lord in everything. What more do you expect of yourself? You have and are teaching all of us who read your blog-how to walk. How to keep going, to appreciate all we DO have, how to use the Savior in our lives. We all have "only ifs". Continue to walk-stay close to Him who knows you like no one else can. Walk with Him, not beside Him or by yourself. That is what the Atonement is for. Apply it when you think"only if", or you think you can't walk.
I was asked to read your blog by my daughter, Mandi. I have learned so much from you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us!! I have been praying for you and your family for weeks now. And, I don't even know you. But, I do trust my Heavenly Father's care. With love.

noorda notebook said...

love you steph. always praying for you.

kathryn_m said...

Awww, Stephanie. The "if onlys" are so tough. {{HUGS}}

I couldn't help but think of the symbolism in the pic at the shore.

I will say a special prayer at bedtime that the "Footprints" message eases your sorrow.

Even knowing that your readers only get to "see" a mere snapshot of your days, I am truly amazed at how well you are "walking". Seven weeks is such a short time - yet it is an eternity too. Time can be a double-edged sword.

Be gentle with yourself on the days you struggle for your footing. Be secure in your knowledge that our Savior is walking beside you and He is at the ready to carry you when your sorrow brings you to your knees.

As the veil thickens, so does the love and caring that surround you.

I am sorry that your heart is hurting so.

Much love from my home to yours...

Kass said...

Thank you for this post today. I really needed it! I am always uplifted & touched by your words. I love seeing pictures of your sweet Camille & the rest of your family. I left a comment earlier that we had a couple of things in common-Aspen Grove & an angel waiting for us on the other side. Even though it will be 3 years in November since Brigham died, I still have those days where I wonder if I am strong enough to walk on my own two feet. As other trials have come, especially temporal ones, I've caught myself being weak & giving in to some of Satan's tactics. Today I went through the "if onlys" of our situation as well. You said it so well-all of the same things are on my list. The thickening of the veil is hard to accept, but I know without a doubt that it thins when we need it through the years of our temporary separation. Even amidst unwavering faith & testimony of the Plan of Salvation, missing our children or loved ones is natural. While we have a constant inner peace, it still hurts & aches in varying waves of intensity. President Hinckley struggled immensely in the years after his beloved Marjorie passed. I guess we are never "ready" to be without the ones we love. I hope tomorrow is a good day for you & your family! Your friend, Kass, in Utah.

Allred Fam said...

hi- I've wondered the same thing many many times, about the pioneer women. How their hearts must have broken to bury their children and then be forced to hurry on with the group, never to return to the spot again. But I remember a quote from one faithful woman from the handcart company, who said, (I won't quote exactly- this is by memory) it was a privilidge to exercise our faith in such a way, and if I would be asked to do it agian, knowing what I know now, I would gladly do it again. As another mother of angels, I hope to always have such faith to be able to say these words. Most days I can say "yes, I agree." It takes years to get to that point, and I am amazed at your spirit and strength after only 7 short weeks. I know that night is still fresh on your mind, just as if it was yesterday, and I hope you can soon be comforted from the pain of those memories, and have only the good ones to remain. Beth

The Gray Family said...

I am amazed at how well you are getting through all of this, but I'm sure some days must be so hard. The "what if" game is so easy to play, but it is one that we can never win. Don't beat yourself you mentioned before, this happened for a reason. If not that one day seven weeks ago, then it would have been some other time. You are incredible!

Mythreesons said...

I remember my mom saying the same thing after her divorce. She felt like she was carried for a long, long time and that was the only way she got through those first months... But like the other commenter said.. you are walking. I think that's what makes you so amazing.
So I was totally bummed I missed Wednesday night... Jared was super whiny and feeling wife deprived. Plus, I missed your funnies post, so I had to add this funny clip. You've probably already seen it, but it still makes me laugh after wathing it over and over.

Also, I promised you an awesome tango clip:
It's amazing! I think her legs look like gumby.

Thanks for all your daily inspiration, Stephanie. My kids thank you;) Your posts remind me to hug them all a little bit longer everyday. You are always in our thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

Stephanie and Family,

My sister in Vegas told us about your blog.
You really are amazing. As I have a 2 year old son, and 11 month old daughter your posts are so powerful for me. Your courage and determination to use this blog to help buoy up others is amazing. I can't even comprehend losing a child. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. We admire you and the missionary work that you are doing.
I know that Heavenly Father will continue to comfort you and send Angels round about to assist you.
Thanks for reminding us how we can be better. I pray that we can all be better and live Christlike lives so we can all see the "Camille's" in our lives again.

With love, the Coppieters family- Brent, Amber, Carter and Brooklyn
Meridian Idaho

Kelsi said...

I loved this post! It gave me chills and I felt the spirit! I am to amazed at the strength of the pioneers faith! I could have never done all that they did! I can imagine that reality sets in and it is hard to do the day to day things! I can't even begin to imagine! I really think you are a talented writer! Have you thought of writing a book??? I think your strength and testimony has already touched so many who are just fortunate to come across your blog, imagine all the grieving parents you could assist through your beautiful testimony and writing! Just a thought, and a big compliment! Hope you keep smiling! And know that there are so many praying for you and your family at this time! may God put his magic blanket around you and hold you tight in your time of need! much love, Kelsi

Katie Evans Photography said...

This is the first time I have read your blog and I think I read about the enire thing. Thank you so much for your inspiring words and message. I actually stopped midway and went in to each of my sleeping kids just to touch them and look at them. I appreciate the reminder of how precious our children are to us. I have a friend who very recently lost her child. I appreciate the advice on how to show I care and give comfort. I noticed you have many beautiful pictures from the funeral. I'm a photographer and was wondering if it might be appropriate to ask her if she would like me to take some pictures at her daughters funeral. In your opinion is it something I should ask her?
Thank you again for sharing your life with me. I'm grateful for the inspiration I have received. Your sweet little girl will never be forgotten.

Tracey said...

Along with many others I have come across your blog by friends of mine. I have been a member of the church my entire life and over the past few years have not been where I should be. I am not a mother (yet, that is) so I can no where began to feel what you and your family have felt. But I just want you to know when I read your posts I feel your testimony and great spirit through your posts. Continue with your great testimony and love, as you are great spirit on this earth.

Anonymous said...


You don't know me, but my sister lost her little girl to a drowning three years ago. Her angel was two. She drowned in their pool. The details of that day will forever be engraved in my sister's mind. I have struggled watching someone I love hurt so much. To read your post and know that another mommy is hurting sadens me to a level of sadness that surprises me. I'm not sure if it makes my sister's grieving more real or if the Lord has blessed me with empathy. I struggle to know how to comfort the grieving so I will write what I know. I know how much your Heavenly Father loves you. I can feel it. I know that healing takes time. I know that you are a gift to us readers. To read your post has been a great blessing. I hear in you some of the same things my sister would say. I am so sad for you and your family. I'm sure you have heard every church answer and response out there. People would come and see my sister and she could see their lips moving but she usually only heard, "blah, blah, blah." My wish for you is great healing throught the atonement of Jesus Christ. You are an amazing woman. I have been hearing about your blog for a few weeks. Thank you for sharing the pureness and honesty of your heart. Did you ever think you would help people heal all over the country?

Sarah S. said...

Dear Stephanie,
I was so surprised by this entry- I think you are doing amazingly well! Be patient with yourself. Give yourself time and the same kindness you give to others. I am sorry- I don't feel like one to be giving you advice, but I do think you need to appreciate how well you are doing with living with your loss. You are incredible and have so many admirers here!

Brittany Osborn said...

I haven't cried in awhile since I read your posts. After the first day I cried for three days off and on. But today I cry again. Through your posts you seem like you are doing so well that I often forget what everyday must be like for you. I will continue to pray. My heart aches for you at the same time that it is uplifted everyday when I read your posts. Because of you and Camille though if something were to every happen to my kids, I know I will have fewer regrets than I would have just a few weeks ago. I know it's a small consolation but I hope it helps a little.

a.k.a. Jack said...

I had a dream about you last night. I asked you how you were doing and you said you were doing better (with a look in your eye that meant better than before but not great). Then you offered me some really tasty coffee cake. As I think back on the dream it really seems to parallel life. I absolutely love good food and, for me, an offer of good food is really a sign of love, and, enjoying good food always lifts my spirits. As you grieve, you still manage to sacrifice and offer your love to the the rest of us and boost our spirits. What a special talent. I hope that this morning you are feeling "better" than yesterday, even though I know the pain is still there, as it was in your eyes in the dream. Thanks for helping all the rest of us. I love you,
Jenny (Earl) Norton
p.s., I think you are a funny person both face to face and in writing. Your blog has made me laugh several times. And although I already knew about your biting grandma, hearing the story again still made me laugh. I wish I could tell Grammy's story about sitting on the fork as funny as she did, but I'm sure you have heard it before, so you can think back on that for a little chuckle. Love you.

Mrs. Morty said...

Thinking back to when I lost my dad I remember getting home from the funerals and all the traveling being amazed at how light the burden had felt. There was so much going on (my sister was married two days after my dad's funeral) and so many prayers were said for our family the time flew by and it was so hard, but amazingly light at the same time. I remember feeling as you do now, as time went by and things settled down the burden was getting heavier and the veil thicker. I believe it is part of the healing process, learning to walk in this new reality as you have said. The weight will again lighten with time and faith. The Savior is always there to pick us up and help us along the way. Lots of love!

Todd and Laura said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with yet another fellow blogger. You have touched my heart today. I am so sorry for the loss of little Camille, but so happy you still have your other beautiful girls and husband to enjoy. I hope you don't mind if I continue to follow your blog, but I just wanted you to know how I am thinking about you and praying for you and your family. Thanks for the reminder to keep walking. You are an inspiration.

kamibeck said...

I read your blog everyday while getting caught up on world events. You uplift me in a world that needs uplifting. The rawness with which you write leads me to self-introspection. I said in a previous post that I want to see the world how you see it. We're told to be as little children--maybe learning to walk with a greater dependence on our Father in Heaven is how He makes us fit to be His. Thanks for taking the time to write. You truly are making the world, including mine, a better place!
Love and hugs to you and your sweet family!

Chelsea said...

I'm sure the pioneer women looking down are honored that they could help encourage you through this hard time. Each time I come back to your blog you find another insight of the gospel that can help each of us in our hard times. I am so glad you will share your thoughts with even strangers! You are being a wonderful example of a what our Church is all about. Thank you:)

Bingham Bunch said...

My heart goes out to you....though this in no way eases your pain, you make me feel normal and healthy. I still count days, weeks, months, developmental would-be marks, nine years later. I think that just makes us moms. I still battle myself with the desire to take back time....yearn for what he would look like now, how tall he would be, would have been birthdays, first days of school, baptisms, and on and on. I think I have come to terms with this is part of who I am now and I need to feel those feelings to keep myself real. I wonder how often Heavenly Father grieves for children. I find myself making efforts to draw closer to him since he truly understands that feeling of I-want-you-in-my-arms-RIGHT-NOW.....but I must wait. The bishop who presided at my son's burial spoke to me later and said to remember that it is a transition for me to adjust to, but also for the family member who has entered the other side of the veil. They too ache for the loss of the family they were physically a part of and the new role they play in the eternities. I was given a beautiful picture by one of my old college roommates who is an artist. I keep it in a special place I have designated to remember, grieve, pray. In the picture is a mother, kneeling with a beautiful bouquet of flowers at a child's grave in an overcast world. In the Heaven's above, in brilliant light, is a small child cradled in the encircling arms of the Savior. One of the child's hands is squeezing the Savior's neck but the other arm is reaching down from Heaven toward the grieving mother. Both the eyes of the child and Savior are on the mother as they cling to one another, and both are filled with tears. I loved this interpretation she had of my experience. And it reminds me too that if I am miserable, my son is probably aware of that. It helps me to know we probably share similar feelings. My prayers are for you, and though at times you may need to sit, keep on getting back up and putting one foot in front of the other. You will find that eventually, your endurance will increase and though the heaviness of the loss doesn't get lighter, YOU become stronger. And while you wait for your strength to build, remember there is someone willing to help you carry the load and to walk with you for as long as you need Him there. Thanks for all the good you have chosen to make out of this. One beautiful life will now affect thousands more. I read the comments people leave for you and how lives are changing for complete strangers (including me) due to her life and death. In the end, we are all brothers and sisters and Camille is one who fulfilled the prophecy in St. John 15:13. I can only imagine the thank yous she will get from those who are being better moms, kinder moms, more patient moms, more grateful people, more appreciative of life, exercising more faith or finding faith. That's what I've seen happening as a result of what has happened. Who knows the ties we all had before we were ever born...the plans made...the time we were alloted and what we would do with that time. Take care....

Andrea of Ft. Worth, TEXAS

KMeechudhone said...

Thank you for letting me glimpse a part of your life. I weep everytime I read your blog. I have to ready myself before I read. You have been given a mission that I cannot fathom bearing the load of. You have already touched and taught so many through your sweet Camille. Thank you. Kim Meechudhone

Allred Fam said...

i posted a comment before but looked up the quote I was trying to remember. it's from James E. Faust, “Refined in Our Trials,” Liahona, Feb 2006, 2–7

you may have already read it. here it is anyway.

"I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it.’

He continues: ‘I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there.

‘Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company."

chanel said...

Its funny you posted this yesterday, as I was in an airport talking to a friend about these very feelings you're having. We're both readers of your blog and talk about you like we know you. I was telling her how I felt before I was allowed to be baptized, I felt like I was wrapped in Chirst's arms. I was buffered, easily inspired, very close to the spirit. After my baptism I could tell I was released a bit, and as time went on I had to "learn to walk". I was saying that will probably happen to you, and as you say it is beginning. I've been a member 12 years, and although I have learned to walk, I've fallen now and then. I try again. Then I had to learn to run. SOmetimes you book it, sometimes, its all you can to jog, but whatever your pace HE IS ALWAYS THERE.
I think your definition of "function" is probably a lot more demanding than mine, you seem like a mom/woman that has so much put together, Im sure its hard to get back to that level. Just be easy on yourself. 7 weeks, isn't that long, and you have come soooo very far. Be patient with yourself and stop comparing yourself to pioneer women- whew they're an aweful hard example to live up to. Make some homemade bread that will make you feel all pioneerish, it always does me. :) (thats my funny)
love to you and your family!

Just me! said...

Thanks to the 'allred fam' for that reminder of such an awesome story. I think it is one of my favorites!

I always hear 'we were saved to come to earth at this time because we were the strongest and more faithful spirits in heaven.' (Those quotation marks are mine, not an actual quote.) I have always wondered about that. I know our world is wicked and Satan is working fast and hard to gain as many of us as he can. you said Steph, those pioneer women were simply AMAZING!!! I couldn't have done what they did. Never! That whole 'pioneer era' just is mind boggling to me. So intense, difficult, powerful, amazing. I have respect for those pioneers.

Steph, I know you read this a lot, but, I have a little guy just about the same age as Camille. His birthday is April 20th. Thanks to you, I do hold him tighter and whip out the camera faster since hearing about Camille. Tonight, he was playing 'peek-a-boo' (his favorite game) and I thought of Camille. I get scared of losing him. I make sure those special times are extra special and try to make sure those moments are engraved deeper in memory so I will always have them. I feel quilty that I still have him and you don't have Camille. All of the pictures and videos you have shared with us pop into my head through out my day. I am thankful for those...little reminders to make every moment memorable because we never know what trial will be next.

Harlene said...

I remember watching my second son learning to walk, or rather wishing he would try, knowing full well he could. He simply was happier holding my hands. He didn't want to do it by himself, didn't trust himself maybe. I have often thought Heavenly Father looks at us the same way. He holds our hands for a time and then lets go, so that we can learn to trust ourselves to do it alone.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. the honesty is so refreshing and the openness inspiring.