Monday, June 14, 2010


I have been thinking about missions lately. We have a nephew serving in Florida. He hasn't been out that long. We have written him as a family. Then we recently had a Young Women's Sunday lesson on supporting missionaries through letter writing. I wrote several missionaries back in the day. All but one of them were purely platonic. I enjoyed writing them then and have enjoyed supporting our nephew now.

The first weekend on this month we had lots of family events as Jon's youngest brother Stephen got married. At the rehearsal dinner each family was introduced by one of the parents. Jon's family went in order of age with his oldest two sisters introducing their families. Jon is the fourth kid of nine. He was in the house trying to put Noble down as this was happening. 

My heart began racing as I realized he would likely not be back in time to introduce our family. I have no fear of public speaking but introducing my family... at a wedding... in front of a lot of people who don't all KNOW me... well that presents new challenges for me these days. And my mind was racing and my heart thumping and my fingers shaking. How do I introduce my family? It is still one of the hardest parts of this for me. Do I include Camille? How can I not? She is so much a part of our family? She is one of my children. How can I include her without bringing the whole party down or putting pity focus on me and without opening myself up for questions later about where that 5th kid is? Man, where is Jon when I need him?

Jon's first sister finished pointing out each of her kids by name and his second sister - the one with the son on a mission started. I thought I would see whether she included her absent son. She did. She said she had a son on a mission. Before I knew it she was done and Jon's older brother had introduced his wife and two kids. Our turn. Jon is no where to be found and the family looks to me to do the introductions. 

I stand and mumble something about not having had to introduce my family in a few years. It is true. At least in front of a large gathering this is the first time I have had to do this. I introduce myself and Jon and then search for Sabrina. I find her and point her out and introduce her following the pattern others have set. Ann Marie is off playing so I just say her name and age. I introduce Lauren as well. Here is the moment of truth. In a blur the words fall out of my mouth. "I have a daughter named Camille who is on a mission in Heaven and my youngest is Noble who is a year and is being put down to bed by his father I hope." I pass the mike and let my nerves settle. Ten minutes later my heart beat finally is back to normal. I feel good about how I introduced her. I told the truth and I was upbeat and positive and quick so as not to dwell on it. 

Then this weekend we went to visit my friend Britt in Arizona. Her youngest brother is leaving on a mission and all her family was in town for his farewell. On Sunday we went to a ward in Mesa where an older couple talked about their recent mission to Uruguay. Missionaries typically serve 2 year missions. 

So on this two year mark of my separation from my daughter I have thought about earthly missions vs. heavenly missions. If Camille were on an earthly mission she would be home or coming home by now. She would have stories of unfamiliar people she helped and new customs she learned in strange lands. Her life for the past two years would be full of experiences and people I had never known. She would be a different girl from the one who left. I would have to get to know her again. I would listen to her stories but never really feel what she did for those she served because I was not with her. I would not know them. 

But she isn't on an earthly mission. There is no coming back from her current assignment. But when I am reunited with her again I do not think there will be the unfamiliar getting to know you again stage there is with newly returned missionaries here. I believe there will be an immediate sense of reunited love and I will get to listen to her tell me of all the ways she served and helped all of us in her family through our trials and difficulties. It will be wonderful and fascinating and at the end of it I believe I will see one thing -- she was closer to her family on her heavenly mission than she ever could have been on any earthly mission. 

What do I do in honor of her 2 year mark? Burn my funeral dress or something? If it weren't so cute I would. Thanks to all of you have been thinking of me and praying for me and who have sent me texts, cards or emails. I am holding in there and I feel of your moral support. Love you all! Stephanie


Ashley said...

You are such an example of strength. I hope on this day of all days you can feel Camille's heavenly presence in your home and in your heart. I know that your reunion with her will be more blessed than any missionary homecoming this earth has ever known!

Anonymous said...

you are truly an example. i have found strength through your healing. the abuse of my child sent me through a world wind of loss, emotions, deciet and the thought of living with anger and hate forever. i thought there could be no greater loss than having to except that your child could have been abused... there is, and seeing you heal and grow closer to your heavenly father rather than pull away and be a bitter person has truly helped me through my recovery. thank you so much for being such a "missionary"...

The Robinson's said...

I thought how you introduced Camille was totally perfect! I was actually thinking of the same way as you when the older sister said she had a son on a mission. As I read that I said wow, you could say Camille is on a mission as well only in heaven!

If I were in your shoes I would absoluetly include Camille, after all she is still with you in spirit, mind, and heart!

I'll be thinking of you tomorrow on your 2 year mark. Sending love your way to you and your adorable family.

"God be with you till we meet again" Hymn #152.

Take care,

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Stephanie.

Olsens R Us said...

You did a wonderful job of thinking on your feet and including Camille so beautifully in your introduction. So many of us who have never met you continue to pray for you and your family to continue to be comforted.

Megan D. said...


You are such a woman of faith! Only such woman would think of a response like that with such short notice.

I have been thinking about faith lately and have been thinking of you a lot. Thank you for your example and openness on this blog! Camille has been on her mission these past few years and you have been on your own mission helping MANY people through your openness, honesty, testimony and faith.

You are such a good friend! I hope one day when I grow up I can be just like you :)

Love, Megan

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the beautiful post, Stephanie. I think it will be fascinating at the end of this life to look back and see the infinite moments when heaven intervened on our behalf, and just which precious angel it was that helped guide us, protect us, instruct us, and save us. Camille is on a very special mission, and what a great way to introduce your family! :0) Sending love and prayers your way at this tender 2-year mark. Love, Kate

Kate said...

Sending love to you, such an amazing missionary and mum.

Judy said...

What a perfect way to introduce your family! My thoughts & prayers are with you, and I know your sweet little Angel will be there to comfort you too.

manuelsmommy said...

I think how you introduced your family was PERFECT! You are such an amazing woman and mother. What a true example of strength! Thinking of you today, two years since Camille went to Heaven.

Love and prayers,
Christina Gomez

Anonymous said...

I have been thinking of you and Jon today, Stephanie (it's nearly midnight here).

I am so proud of you. That was a very difficult thing to do. You honoured Camille by including her, and you bought dignity and grace to the introduction despite the pain.

Another wow from me.



Amy H said...

I cried when I read your post. Not because I am sad for you but because I am happy for you. It was a beautiful post. I have been reading your blog since before Camille went to heaven and it has been interesting to watch you walk through your grief since I am an outsider. You really are doing remarkably well.
I love the way you introduced Camille at the wedding. That was just perfect and it is a beautiful way to see the situation.

s g said...

definitely thinking about you and your sweet family today, sending hugs and warm thoughts your way.

you definitely have a gift of writing and sharing your gift with others, and I know Camille is so impressed with the incredible mother you are!

thank you for sharing your story daily!!

sara g.

Lindsay said...

You did a beautiful job introducing Camille!

Hopefully you will no longer have anxiety about the same situation in the future because you know she is on her mission in heaven! :) Camille would be so proud of you!


rntina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rntina said...

You are truly and inspiration of strength and love and healing. I admire your sense of determination and your attitude of finding the good in all things. I only hope that I can one day find that strength in myself.
Your Camille is so proud of you and the manner in which you are facing your challenges and rising to each occassion.
Your introduction was absolutely perfect. You can't not include Camille, she is part of who your family is and your inclusion was inspired.
I have been thinking of you and your family today.
I have been lurking for awhile...thought this was the PERFECT time to unlurk-lol

Erin Lafleur said...

Its funny, when I moved into a new ward a month ago I had to stand up in RS and intoduce myself and tell about my family and I said the same thing. "Benjamin, who has been on a mission in the Spirit World for 2 years" It took the ladies a minute to realize what I had said but it was the best thing to say. :)

Anonymous said...

Sending my thoughts, love, and prayers your way.