Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Someone asked in a comment about if I ever blame myself. I decided to answer that question because I know people well enough to know that most people want to know the answer to it even if they do not ask. Also, and more importantly, I hope my answer will help someone out there in similar shoes to mine.

Let me start with a story. It may not even be a true story. But it is a story I had heard third hand some years ago that inspired me. Years ago there was a man in my parents ward who went on a scout trip with my brothers and father. The story goes that he had in his youth been out hunting with his dad (or some other activity that included a gun) and that the gun he was holding misfired and the shot fired hit and killed his dad. So on this scout trip with my brothers someone asks this man how he was able to grow up normal and well adjusted after such an event and did he ever feel like he was responsible. His answer was no. He knew it was his dad's time to go and the gun in his hand was just a tool the Lord used to take him.

Okay so I don't know if that is a true story or not but hearing that years ago I thought, "Wow. That is so wise and true. What an incredible person to see it like that." Since hearing that story I have heard my fair share of babies drowning or accidentally dying stories and thought each time, "Gee I hope that mother can see this accident the way that man did and know that it was not her fault. You would just have to see it that way or how would you live?"

Then June 13th rolled around. Suddenly, I was that mother.  

There has never been any blame throwing in our house. I can only speak for myself in saying that there was a fight between my head and my heart about blaming myself. My head told me to be that guy. Whether the story is true or not, his response in the story was the right response, it is the true response. But, alas, I am human. And I am a mother. My mother instincts cried in agony and grief and regret that I did not better protect my child. It was a bitter duel.

I felt the sweet peaceful whisperings of the Spirit telling me that this was known to the Lord, that He knew this was coming before it happened. I had even dreamt it the night before, but I awoke with no recollection of the dream until I saw her in the spa. 

I have often said that it is a miracle any child reaches adulthood for all the accidents that can happen.  I have seen the Lord miraculously save each of my children's lives through promptings of the Spirit and sheer miracle. I really believe that the Lord helps us raise our children and helps us watch them even when we can't. This day, however, there was a total silence in the minutes before I found her.  There was no thought, no prompting, no feeling of an unsettled nature. Just silence.  

Now I may not have been at a spiritual high when this happened (a regret I had to do some repenting of in the hospital). I had been on vacation for 2 weeks prior and had slipped out of the habit of family scripture study. But, I was living worthy of the Spirit and so was my husband. Both of us were home and neither of us felt any warning voice. 

I believe I had that dream and remembered it when I saw her as the Lord's way of telling me that He knew this would happen and it was in His plan.  I felt very peaceful in the hospital once we accepted that she was not going to live. I felt like that was the will of the Lord. I felt like it was her time to go and that the spa was only a tool. Still, I wanted to KNOW it. 

I wanted an angel to appear with the message that it was her time and if it hadn't been the spa it would have been something else and possibly something worse. There are so many worse ways to die than drowning. I felt that was true but I wanted to know it.  I didn't even care who the angel was or to whom they appeared.  I just wanted to hear it from a divine source and know it with a sure knowledge.

As far as I know, no one has seen any angels with this message to give to me. But I don't feel like I really need it anymore. Other equally reliable spiritual experiences over the last couple of weeks have let me know that this was no surprise to the Lord. He could easily have prevented it and He didn't.  I know that Camille's death is serving His greater purpose. Most importantly, I know that I am clean before Him. And that is all that really matters. 

So, no, I do not blame myself or anyone else. But it was a struggle to let go of my so human mother instincts of regret and "if only." I hope in relating this that someone out there who may be holding on to blame for an accident will let it go. I hope we all can come to know that, no matter the circumstances, the Atonement can allow us to be clean before the Lord through repentance. I hope we all can realize that being clean and acceptable before the Lord really is all that matters.

Socratic Method

I had to post this today because I just thought it was so awesome.  So today we are getting a double scoop. :)

So my little 5 year old Ann Marie is incredibly bright. I have known she was bright from a very early age. I don't mean she is just able to memorize things easily. I mean she is able to put things together in her mind very quickly. I mean she taught herself how to read after I taught her the letter and sounds kind of bright. Now she reads chapter books. She has a very logical mind with an above average dose of common sense. This makes her a challenge to parent because she is just too smart to fall for many parenting techniques.

I remember once she was being naughty when she was about 18 months to 2 years old.  I told her to do something several times and she wasn't doing it.  I told her again more frustratedly and she turned to me and yelled "NO!" That was it for me.  No kid of mine was going to scream at me like that.  My face changed to that "oh no just didn't look," you know that Mad Mama look that we can get to let kids know they have crossed the line.  I do a good one and boy it came out right then. Suddenly, Annie's expression changed from one of defiance to one of calculating caution.  Then she put her hands both up in front of her, palms facing me and said in her little tiny girl voice "Mama, take a deep bweth." Of course I burst out laughing at this. 

Anyway, so today Annie and Lauren were arguing or debating about the emblem on Lauren's bathing suit.  You can see it in the picture above.  Lauren was calling it a sun and Ann was trying to correct her and let her know it was a flower.

So the dialogue goes thusly:
Annie: It is a flower
Lauren: NO It is a sun!
Annie: No Lauren it is a flower.
Lauren: NO IT IS A SUN!
Annie: Lauren, do suns have leaves?
Lauren: No.
Annie: See these green things on your suit? What are they? See they are leaves. 
Lauren: silent and looking at the leaves.
Annie: So it is a flower because flowers have leaves.
Lauren: ... thinking ... NO ... IT IS A SUN!
Mama: Maybe it is a sunflower.  
Lauren: Yes it is a SUN flower.

Okay what I LOVE about this is that my five year old just used a law school teaching technique called the Socratic method. It is a method of teaching by asking questions to help people realize your point by themselves. I just think that is awesome.  My little loving Ann Marie is AWESOME!


Okay, first I want to make it clear that I read every comment, sometimes several times over.  Actually, comments are the highlights of my days right now. I particularly gain strength from those comments that express how reading my blog has helped someone who is grieving for any reason. I also love the comments of those who feel a change in themselves after reading the blog. I LOVE knowing that people are holding their little one longer and cherishing them a little more.

I particularly love these types of comments because they give purpose and meaning to my daughter's life.  Her life was so short. Her mission was simple. She came to learn.  She came to love and be loved. She died to inspire. These comments let me know that the third part of her mission is being fulfilled beyond the walls of our home. The fact that people she never would have met in her life on this earth are inspired by the writings she has inspired with her death gives purpose to tragedy.

I particularly loved the first comment on my blank pages post.  :) That is why I married that incredible guy. He just makes me laugh.

For those of you struggling in the "blank pages," I highly recommend that recipe from Luke 2:52.  Force yourself to do something Physical (workout), Spiritual (pray, ponder and study scriptures), Mental (write or read some or exercise your brain), and Social (serve others or just get out and be with people) EVERYDAY.  It is what the Savior did and if you do it everyday it will make you happier.  It is the only way I know to claw out of the pit of sorrow.  Yesterday I had been down all day and done the social thing and the spiritual thing.  Writing that post, my mental thing, lifted me a little. Working out lifted me out of the gloom and then getting such great comments, especially the first one, and a load of wonderful mail just really helped me find joy.

Thanks for the mail, by the way.  My girls have loved the "happy mail" they have gotten and they are still opening pictures from yesterday's package from Palo Alto.  Thanks Nancy and the primary kids. Jon and I appreciate the love coming through the postal system too.  We are touched by the sentiments expressed and the many contributions to charities in Camille's name.  We know how much good and how many lives of babies are saved through the Humanitarian Fund.  We have seen it first hand in the two Humanitarian Services missions my parents have served.  THANK YOU!!!

Okay I have to go take care of kids now.  Sending out love to all you who comment and those who just read too.  I will post later today about Annie and the Socratic method.  Just no time to do it now.

P.S. Hope to see you SYTYCD fans at my house tonight @ 8:30 PM