Monday, April 21, 2014

Camille's 7th Birthday / Easter 2014

This weekend has been one worth writing about. The kids had Thursday and Friday off school and Jonathan had Friday off work. So Friday we went to Six Flags to celebrate Camille's 7th birthday. We always do a big family fun thing like this for 7th birthdays. The weather was perfect and the park was empty so we had a great time.

Saturday morning Jonathan took the kids to do a community service project pulling weeds on the "Flower Mound." This was part of our "Cami Kindness." Meanwhile I prepared a lunch for us and the cousins and filled balloons with helium and Cami Kindness acts people had told me they had done.

After lunch we took the balloons out front and let them fly. It was great.


Thank you so much to all of you who contacted me on did Cami Kindness acts this past week. It really means so much to me that you all remember her and continue making the world better because of her life.

What really made this weekend worthy of a blog post however, is less what I did and more how I felt. This is my 5th time celebrating Camille's birthday without her. It was, without question, my hardest. I am not sure if it is being in a new place where no one knew her or just the fact that it has been 5 stinking years of not being with her on her birthday. Perhaps more than both of these, it was feeling her spirit closer to me than normal and just aching to be with her.

Whatever the factors, this was a hard one for me. I was somewhat weepy on Friday. Friday night I couldn't hold the tears back any longer and I wept long and hard that night before crawling into bed. As I prayed that night through my sobs, I was given the thought or impression that my grandmother Lucile (celebrator extraordinaire, she made everything pure magic) was with Camille-that she was taking care of her. Perhaps this was meant to make me feel better. Honestly, it mostly just made me really jealous. So I cried even more wishing I were with them.

I had a few other impressions about the work she is doing now and I treasure any hint I get of those things in my prayers. But none of these heavenly gifts could pull me from the powerful wave of grief I was experiencing. I don't get hit by these waves very often anymore so I didn't fight riding it. Sometimes my grief reminds me that she was real. 

Still I wondered how long this wave would last. Would this be the kind that pulled me down for days or weeks or months? I was set to teach a lesson on the Atonement Sunday in gospel principals class. Would I even be able to prepare it or get through it?

Saturday was an even weepier day than Friday had been. I did not feel the "celebratory" feeling I had in past years on Camille's birthday. I was just so sad that she was not there. I ached for all the consequences her absence has on every member of my family.

After the birthday party Saturday afternoon, Jon took the kids to the park so I could prepare my lesson. I decided to make a visual aid to help explain the role of the Atonement in the Plan of Salvation to our class and most importantly to our new member. This is something my mother would do. It is a good teaching tool so I followed suit. Below is the result:

Saturday night we prepped for Easter and finally got to bed around 12:30. I went to bed exhausted and emotional and wondering how Easter would go.

Sunday morning I woke to the sounds of excited children (one of my favorite sounds.) I got up despite only having about 6 hours sleep and turned on Handel's Messiah and told the kids where to look for the their baskets. As I listened to that music, the joy of the gift of Easter took root in my heart. My sorrow evaporated like the morning dew.

Later in church, our sacrament talks were especially profound and I felt a reconfirmation of the reality of the Savior's power to make us perfect. I felt a lightness in spirit and mind because of my witness that HE LIVES! He rose from the dead! And because he did so will all of us.

As I taught my Easter lesson on the Atonement a little later, I taught what was on my visual aid. Then, at the end, I noted how it is a really nice plan all laid out on this nice chart. It looks good on paper. But when you are living separated from someone you really love, this plan is EVERYTHING. And what Jesus Christ did in Gethsemene and on the Cross and in the tomb. That few days of history and the Savior's choices and his suffering in that time make absolutely all the difference in the whole fabric of the plan.

I am so grateful to Him. He is the Way. Through Him our families can become Eternal Families. He is the way Home to all those we love and miss beyond the veil.

My reconfirmation of this knowledge removed my sadness. It took the sting of death away for me yesterday. If you don't know these truths for yourself, I urge you to Seek them. Seek Him. At some point in every person's life, this knowledge can literally save you. For more information on how to find Truth for yourself, go hit the chat button on No one will try to convince you they are right. They will only guide you to find out for yourself what is true. You will be glad you did.


Amanda said...

Love this, and I love you! I'm so glad you were able to find peace again. I never sent you a message but I did intentionally do an act of service for Cami - I delivered something that someone asked to borrow on our RS FB page. Normally I probably would have just said I had the thing and let her come pick it up, but I decided to deliver it instead. Thanks Cami for helping me be a little more Christlike!

Emily @ RemarkableHome said...

Great post, Stephanie. I am so thankful that you have the gospel to help you with the loss of Camille. I am so grateful that you have the atonement to draw on. I love you.

Brittany said...

I always need your posts. Love your girls pretty.

Mythreesons said...

Beautifully put Stephanie. I love hearing your testimony. It strengthens mine. I'm sorry this weekend was even harder than usual. Your strength is inspiring.

Anonymous said...

I miss the Gospel. I miss so much about the church. Everyone sins. I wish the church could accept me as someone who loves a woman. I would tell anyone that it is the same beautiful love that I've watched my parents nurture for almost 30 years. After decades of depression & self-loathing,I am so incredibly happy. I had to leave the church to feel good enough to love myself.

Anonymous said...

Hi Stephanie:

I think you may know that I live with chronic pain syndrome & other health issues but I was able to phone other shut-ins who I know appreciated a friendly voice and kind words. I shared some little story about Cami -- specifically her cupboard hideaway! haha. I think we all felt blessed for the experience.

Your family pic is lovely - I love the girl's dresses especially.

Love in our Lord & Savoir:
Kathryn M