Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lauren's Turn

We all take our turns, in our own time and our own way, to process and understand Camille's death. We all take our turns grieving in our own way. Yesterday it was Lauren's turn.

Lauren was so young when Camille died. She was not quite 3 yet. She did not understand death. I spent the first 14 months or so telling her that Camille would not be coming out of the box - not until Jesus comes again - and that may be a very long time from now - she may go see Camille before Camille gets to come back and get her body. It is difficult for a 3 year old to grasp death and the resurrection especially when she is anxious to have her playmate back.

The last few days she has been asking to watch the videos of Camille often. I think she has them memorized now. They comprise nearly all of her memories of Camille. I think apart from the day Camille drowned, Lauren has lost all her memories of her sister. Any memory she recalls now is a quote from a movie or the image from a picture. And so when she wants to see Camille, when she wants to "remember" her sister, I can't refuse her request even if it hard for me to watch with her.

Yesterday she wanted to watch the videos again. I told her she could watch while I went to work out. When I got back she had watched them all through again. I showered quickly and then tried to get her to get ready to go to a party. Suddenly she didn't like her costume. It didn't fit right. I tailored it on the sewing machine to fit her well. She still didn't like it. She felt she looked weird. I assured her she didn't. Daddy assured her she looked just like a doctor should - and a very cute doctor at that. No luck.

We were already 20 minutes late now for the party. I got her in the car and tried to tease her out of her sour mood. We got to the house where the party was and I walked in. She would not follow. I told her to come see the cupcakes. She would not come. She hid behind a pillar outside the door. I told her if she didn't come in we would have to leave. I fully expected she would come. Who wouldn't want to go to a fun Halloween party with her friends? -- Lauren, that's who. She walked back to the car. I told her we were going to leave then. She said okay and got in the car. I was shocked. It was at this point that I thought, "hmmm, this may be about more than the costume."

I took her home. She cried in the car all the way home. Back home she wanted to rock and watch the Camille slideshow again. I asked if she wanted to hold Noble. She did. So I held her and she held Noble and we rocked and watched the slide show of Camille ... again ... and she cried. Then Noble started crying and squirming. Lauren slid out and went to sit on the couch and rock.

I asked if I could come over and hold her. Sobbing she shook her head "No." And then my heart broke. And there, trying to catch her breath between sobs, she sat and watched the video. I held my arms open to her. She would not come. I waited and hurt with her from across the room. I extended my arms further pleading with my eyes for her to come let me hold her and rock her. And then she came. And we rocked. And it was endurable.

The show ended. "Again Mama," she said.

"Do we really have to watch again?" I asked.

"Yes, Mama. I want Camille in our home. Playing it makes Camille in our home. Play it again." And so we played it again -- one more time. She sobbed into her worn blankie with my arms around her tight and she grieved. She still insisted she was only upset about her costume (which she had taken off 30 minutes earlier) but that is the way it is with kids. They don't understand grief enough to recognize it when it hits.

We will have many rounds of grief to experience with our children as they grow and better understand their own loss. And we will let them grieve, just as others have let us grieve, in our own time and our own way. And hopefully they will let me hold them while they grieve, so that it may be more endurable for us both.

3 Nephi 9:14 "Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold the arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me."