It has been almost 2 and 1/2 years since our sweet 3 year old Kamberlie drowned at Lake Powell. My emotions have never allowed me to write the complete story until now. Well, at least I am going to attempt to tell the whole story. It's late and I assume that I will write for the remainder of the night. My mind was racing from 11:30 pm until 1:30 pm. Today being February 1st 2010. Finally I couldn't take it anymore and knew that I needed to capture the emotions & memories that would not leave my mind. It's interesting that all of these thoughts have come since the arrival of Kenzlie. My emotions are so crazy. I feel like such a women. LOL. So here I am writing in the middle of the night to share with all who care to read the nightmare/miracle/blessing that we have experienced. Feel free to share our story with others if you feel that our experience might in some way help heal a broken heart.
Our hearts have been crushed and broken beyond human repair. Kim & I decided that it would be very selfish to hide behind our tragedy and so here we are exposing our inner most thoughts & emotions. So please bear with us. Our first desire when we started to write our feelings was to help us and our immediate family & our close friends. Since then we have opened up our blog for all to read. We realize that this may cause others to know us a little too well or feel that we need some self pity. On the contrary, we do not want people to feel sorry for us. Everyone has trials that they need to overcome. We are just a little family hoping that we might change or help the broken hearted.
What we have to share goes far beyond the natural man and I would be foolish to ever think that we have made it this far on our own. I will start out by telling all within the sound of my voice that there is a God that loved me & you so much that he would send His only begotten son to die for us. I can only begin to imagine what that felt like for our Heavenly Father, as he willingly & lovingly, for our behalf, watched his son feel and suffer, not only the sins of all mankind, but all of the pains be it emotional, physical, mental, & spiritual. I KNOW THAT JESUS CHRIST DIED FOR ME! I know that without Him I would not be able to go on without my 2nd born little child. Losing a child in any fashion will kill you to to the inner most core. With that being said here is our story that has forever shaped our family.
On Thursday October 5th 2007, our family was on our way to Lake Powell. We loved it there. It was a place that we knew we could go and develop family relations. It was a place to relax and play hard all at the same time. It was something we looked forward to every few months while the weather was good. We were so excited to take our new boat out for the first time to Lake Powell. My parents were so nice and offered to take Stockton since he was almost two years old. Those of you who know our kids would agree that this was a huge favor to take one of our kids. This was an enormous help for us. Those of you who have little children know how difficult they can be especially at a place like Lake Powell. So we were especially excited to be able to spend time with Kamberlie who was three and Staley who was four at the time. My parents arrived at our house right before we were to leave. They had even talked about coming to Lake Powell in a few days and would of course bring Stockton along. That made it even better to know that our little guy would be able to join us and we would have extra help there at Lake Powell with the kids. The best part was knowing that we could get up super early and have great water and leave the kids on the house boat with Grandma. Thanks Mom. You're the best.
Life was so good. Everything was so perfect. I really never knew adversity. Somehow I thought that I was too special or too great to endure hardships. I know, you are saying to yourself come on, did you really feel that way? The answer is yes! I'm so sorry that I felt that way but I did. I had escaped death and serious injury not just once or twice in my little life. I hope that this allows you to understand a little better about me and the state of mind that I was in. Now, don't get me wrong, I was super churchy. I tried my best to do and be my best at all times. I really got involved in other peoples’ lives to help out in anyway that I could. If you were to ask most people about Kim & I they would probably tell you that we were good, down to earth people, trying to live a life of service. Sometimes too much service, Kim would say, if I wasn't spending enough time with the family while trying to take care of everyone else. Well, needless to say the next couple of years would be ones of great sorrow and tribulation. For the first time in my life I would be the one needing love & support. I had always given love and support to others and yet I was lacking one very important element. I can truly say that I was not able to fully empathize with people and their trials. I feel so ashamed to admit that on many occasions I would quietly in my mind tell myself, as I watched others in their trials, enough is enough and you need to get over it. How crude! How insensitive! Yet looking back and really never having to go through adversity at all, can you blame me? Yes. You can blame me! The real special person is one that can empathize with out having to experience the trial. I was not one of those persons. I was and am still very young and inexperienced but that is still no excuse.
Back to our story. We were going to take Kamberlie & Staley as well as Teresa (my sister) with us. As we were all packed and just about ready to get into the Yukon to leave, I remember very clearly and distinctly my Dad (Craig Binks) grabbing Kamberlie and asking her to stay with Grandma & Grandpa. She emphatically declined. A few moments passed and again the question was posed, "Kamberlie, please stay with Grandpa." "No Grandpa. I do not want to go with you," she uttered with a slight glare. My heart aches knowing that the last words that my parents—her grandparents—had to hear was one of an offer declined to spend time with them.
Many times we are so caught up in our own grief and sorrow that we forget that other loved ones are hurting just as bad or more than we are and yet somehow too much of the time is focused on ourselves that we miss the opportunity to be there for someone else. I now look back and can see through different eyes just how difficult it was for my parents and especially my dad to deal with her loss in this way. Although, at the expense of my parents, there is great significance in this little part of the story: Kamberlie never turned down offers to go with Grandma & Grandpa Binks or Parry. She loved them so much and wanted to be with them at every chance. It was truly something special to hear Kamberlie talk about the Binks & Parry grandparents. We were a little worried that she might want to go live with them some day. Lol. So you can see how heart broken & crushed her grandparents (Binks) were, learning about their only girl grandchild, having to leave this life so quick & early.
It was generous of my parents to take our youngest; Stockton was enough of a challenge to watch. Now my Dad was offering to take Kamberlie as well. Kim & I first thought “Oh no Dad don't take on more. We will be alright.” He insisted that this was okay as long as she wanted to go with him. Again Kamberlie said, "No way, I'm going with Mommy & Daddy." This was a shock to all of us. Looking back I thank my Heavenly Father so much that He allowed us as her parents the opportunity to spend her final hours with us.
Now, the previous two weeks were truly amazing. Kamberlie had been saying her goodbyes to us and we didn't even realize it. She was as perfect as a child could be during those final two weeks before Lake Powell. She listened to every word that Mommy & Daddy said. She showed so much love to us and to Staley & Stockton. In fact I believe the reason it has been so hard on Staley is because of how close he grew to her in those final days. It was an absolute miracle sent from on high. Kim & I were talking that week and commenting on how different Kamberlie was. How she had turned into such an angel. It was just too good to be true. What had we done as parents to have made such an impact in her behavior? You see, if you didn't know Kamberlie, she was a spunk to say the least. She was in control of every situation. You name the place and time and all the kids would follow her lead. But something was different that week and we had just thought we finally figured out how to be good parents and we had figured the little mischievous girl out.
This is yet one more chance for me to point out just how merciful our Heavenly Father is. Here is a little girl that I know in her mind at the time did not know that it was her time to die. Her Heavenly Father knew and showed such tender mercies to us in her final days. Those memories of how she acted are invaluable to us. I can't tell you in words how grateful we are. If you don't believe in God, I beg of you to give Him a chance. I hope and pray that you might feel as I am feeling right now just how much He loves each and every one of us. I know that God loves me. It is so wonderful to have that assurance. If only the world could feel that way. We would do things a lot different as a society. From the beginning of days God knew how long Kamberlie would be here on earth. He knew exactly what we needed from her and he knew just how long to keep her here so that she would have just enough time to take her little heart and break a little piece of it into so many people's lives. God knows! He just does! Believe me, I know! People, family, friends, all who needed this little angel to touch their lives, not to mention all that would grow and better themselves after learning about her. I call her a little angel but those of you who got the glare from her wouldn't have called her that just yet. She wasn't afraid to speak her mind or tell you what you maybe didn't want to hear. Nonetheless she had such an infectious way about her. One that I don't know how to duplicate. It was so neat to see her just take charge of every situation and involve everyone at such a young age. It was truly amazing. There is no wonder why Heavenly Father needed her to do a great work on the other side of the veil. We are so proud of what she was able to accomplish before she came to this earth to ensure her exaltation. Kamberlie was a Mommy's girl on the surface but Daddy had a real neat bond with her. One that I miss and long for. So much so that most of you know that we were willing to have boy after boy after boy until we got another little girl. Not to replace Kamberlie but to try to have just a little bit of what we were missing. We were so convinced that Kenzlie was a boy. Another story for another time. It's so good to have another girl in the house. I told Kim when we were first married that I would be okay to have just boys. I'm sure glad Heavenly Father didn't give me what I wanted. Sometimes what we think we want or need is so far off from what He knows that we need. We can't ever get discouraged if we don't receive the answers to our prayers that we want. Be patient and realize that God is shaping us before our very eyes. Let Him do a marvelous work, which includes us if we will let Him.
You see, when everyone was asleep, Kamberlie knew that she could come out of her bed, come out into the family room, & watch sports with me. Mommy didn't know this and if she did she wouldn't approve so it was our little secret. I tried to get my other boys interested but they wouldn't do it so I had to spoil Kamberlie since she supported me in my sports. As everyone was asleep, we would go to the freezer and eat ice cream and all sorts of good stuff. Most of the time she would fall asleep but she just wanted to be with me. It just made me smile inside as big as the Grand Canyon. I was so in love! That little girl had won me over a million times and again. I was the luckiest Dad in the world. I was invincible and I loved it. When the sporting event was over I would take her into bed, stare at her, and just thank my Heavenly Father for sending such an amazing spirit into our home. My heart was so full. Sometimes I would just kneel beside her and pray and think why. Why am I so blessed? Seriously, what did I do to deserve my wonderful kids. She was the talk everywhere we would go. This was a great concern for Kim & I. :) We were worried that Staley & Stockton wouldn't get enough attention. It was very rare that someone wouldn't comment on how cute or adorable she was. Her personality was absolutely amazing. Let's just say that I was and was not looking forward to the teenage years all at the same time. How do you like that Kim? I do but I don't! (Inside joke) Anyway that was my little Kamberlie.
We had a bond that I just didn't have with my other kids. Staley was too in love with himself and his mother. Stockton I'm sure was too in love with himself but he was too young to realize it. LOL. Oh how I miss my sweet Kamberlie. My heart aches & I long to be able to be with her again. I am so so so amazingly grateful that Jesus Christ suffered for me. I know that because of what He did I will be able to live with her again as long as I do my part here on earth. I never knew what it meant to soak a pillow with tears until after she died. I never knew how it felt to plead, literally plead for so much help after she left this world. I really never knew what pain was. I never knew what sorrow or grief even meant. I didn't know that it was possible to hurt so much. I didn't know at all what others have had to go through since the beginning of time. I feel so honored to be her Daddy. I really do. I'm not just saying that because she died. I truly feel & know that she was chosen from on high to do a work that would not only affect our family but many others as well. She came to this earth and fulfilled her mission. She has been missed greatly. No one knows quite how it feels unless you've been through it.
My Dad made an interesting comment a few months following her death. When I was nine years old my youngest brother Colby was born. He lived only six months due to multiple complications. I remember the day my Dad came home from the hospital and got out the video camera. He said that we needed to have a family talk. I wasn't stupid. I knew. I knew that my special little brother had died and I was not happy about it. Tears began to fall from my face. I had a bond with my little brother. It was a special bond since I knew that he would have many challenges growing up. His body would not function, he would be in a wheelchair, he would need to have constant help for the rest of his life. I would get home from school and look forward to the opportunity to hold his little crippled body in my arms. I never thought that he wouldn't make it. The thing that made him so special to me is despite all of his physical challenges his mind was perfect. So I would be able to really get to know & talk to him. I imagined the day when I would come home from school and be able to push him around the block knowing that he would be anxious to get out of the house. Anyway as the camera started, we were in the basement, the camera was in the North East part of the family room on a brown octagon coffee table, recording our reaction to the news that my Dad thought we didn't know. Well I cried and cried that night, it was hard for a little nine year old boy to handle that. I had no idea what my parents were going through. Now, back to what my Dad told me. He said, "As hard as it was to lose Colby, this is so much harder to lose Kamberlie and I'm her Grandpa." Needless to say that hit me pretty hard. I was on the phone with him at the time and tears were running down my face. You see, I went through Colby dying when I was nine years old and never took any thought all the time I was growing up as to what my parents were feeling. I just ignorantly assumed that I, as a nine year old boy, was grieving the same as my parents.
I never understood the significance of what my Dad was going through until Kamberlie. But as you can see, in each case, although very different situations, Heavenly Father takes us under his wing. As my father & mother were at the hospital visiting Colby the day that he died, they noticed that he was extremely outgoing. His tongue was being utilized for the first time in a very active manner. He was wide awake and giving it everything he could to say goodbye that day. God knew that it was his time to go. God knew how to succor his children. My Father placed his hands upon Colby's head to give him a priesthood blessing. This is the authority to act in God's name. As he was giving that blessing he was told by a higher power to say, "Colby if it is your time to go then we understand and can accept that." Just then, even as he spoke those words, Colby died. He was waiting to leave this life but wanted my parents to follow God's will, not theirs. That is so hard to do. Our will vs. God's will. Sometimes we think that we know what is best for us. News flash everyone, we do not and I say that with all the energy of my soul, we do not know what is best for us! God knows! He knows! If we will learn to know what God's will is, we will never be led astray and we will make it back to His presence. My Dad's comment of how losing Kamberlie was more painful than losing Colby took me back quite a bit. He lost his son just like I lost my daughter.
I can't tell you exactly why Kamberlie was able to leave such a mark on so many people but she did and those of you who never met her need to understand somewhat what kind of impact she had on our lives so that you will better be able to understand the rest of the story.
So back to being at home ready to leave for Lake Powell. Kamberlie insisted on going with us and not staying back with Grandma & Grandpa. After she had died, with tears in his eyes, my Dad said if only she would have just come with us. I cut him off before he could finish because I knew where he was going. I looked at him and said without regret," Dad, it was her time to go. God has let me know that. Just like you knew with Colby. If she had stayed back with you then Kim & I would have said our good byes that day and never seen her again in this life." It was our privilege to have her until the very end. She had her choice. We did not force her to come to Lake Powell with us. Every other time she would have chosen to go with Grandpa. Again, Heavenly Father knew what was about to happen and Kamberlie was supposed to come with us. He knows, no exceptions!
We arrived at Lake Powell on Friday night (October 5th) The weather Saturday was horrible. We could not do anything on the water. We had to stay on the house boat. This is also very important for you to understand. God was in the driver’s seat the whole time. We had not been in the ward for too long when we went to Lake Powell. We didn't know too many people in the new ward. At the same time that we were there in our houseboat there were some people from our ward in another houseboat as well. JD & Cindy Dawson, Josh & Alicia Holmgren, Bryce & Jenny Morris, were there. The part that gives me chills every time I think about it is that JD never stays in the slip, but because of the nasty weather they did not pull the house boat out this time. Again, some might call it a coincidence but I will tell you with much boldness that it was not. We needed them there more than they will ever realize.
Sunday arrived and the weather was fabulous. Since we don't get in the water on Sunday it was another day of relaxing in the houseboat. We believe that Sunday is the Lord's day and a day of rest so even though the weather was awesome we held firm to our commitment to the Lord and didn't go out on the water. Imagine that! The best weather on a Sunday. :) So we stayed in the house boat all day.
Then that dreadful Monday—October 8th, 2007—arrived. This would be the day that would forever change not only us but family & friends, and all who were involved. At least I would hope so. The weather was good. Normally we would get up bright & early to get the glass and we would have other people there to watch the kids, but my parents, who had mentioned that they would most likely come down and bring Stockton, had a change of plans and were not going to make it. We got up early and went out on the water. Since my parents were not there we got Staley & Kamberlie out of bed earlier than usual. Bryce was the only one that would wake up early to go out with us and so we went out. That would be the last time that Kamberlie would ride in our boat or any boat for that matter.
I can't remember the time exactly, but Kim & I were on the boat docked next to the house boat getting it ready to take out. Kamberlie & Staley were in sight. Kim yelled out a few times to get their life jackets on. We have received much criticism about that. Hello! Don't you think that losing a daughter is enough of a lesson! It's super easy for someone on the outside to say, "what an idiot." or "Put on a life jacket and all of this would have been avoided." That is why I am so glad to have the knowledge that I have. I know without a doubt that it was her time to go. I'll say it again; God is in the driver’s seat. Should she have been wearing a life jacket? Of course! That goes without saying. I received assurance from on High very soon after she drowned that Kamberlie dying could not have been avoided. You don't know how hard and long it was for Kim to forgive herself for that. It took Kim a little more time to feel the same way. Rightfully so! A Mother's bond with her child always goes much deeper that a Fathers.
As Kim & I were on the boat we could hear little feet running in the house boat and then back on the dock. Back and forth they played. Into the houseboat and then back onto the dock. I turned on the air pump to fill up a tube and it was loud. A few seconds went by and Staley ran out on the dock but Kamberlie was not following like before. I turned off the pump and said to Kim, "Where is Kamberlie?" I quickly jumped out of the boat & ran into the house boat and came back out. Nothing. Panic was an understatement at this point. It had only been seconds so she had to be close. You see, there is something that you need to understand about me. I have always been full of confidence. Some call it pride. I'm working on that. Any way, the best way that I can describe it with out misleading you too much is, as I alluded to before, I felt I was invincible. I really did. I had had some near death experiences growing up. I honestly thought that Kim, myself, and my kids would always be protected. Was this wrong? Yeah, Of course we are not invincible but somehow somewhere deep within I just always thought that I was too special for Heavenly Father to take me, my wife, or one of my children away. I don't know of any other way to explain it. I'm sorry that I felt, key word, felt that way.
We turned everything upside down looking for her to no avail. My mind began to take me where I did not want it to go. I kept repeating the words, "No, Please no, this is not happening!" I ran around the house boat looking in the mucky water. Nothing. I sprinted up to the top of the houseboat. I called out for my little girl. I wept as I called for her. Too much time had now passed. I was praying that she was hiding or playing a game. I ran down the dock to JD's house boat and asked if they had seen Kamberlie. "No" was their reply. I ran back to the house boat and jumped into the water. Bryce, JD, & Josh followed me back to our houseboat. They were already in the water after I had come up to the surface to catch my breath for the first time. As I held my breath to go under water the only thing that brought me back to the surface is to get air to go back down. Otherwise I really didn't care if I came back up or not. I had lost the love of my life. Where was she? I pleaded to God. “Please God, Help me! Help me find her!” I continued to dive down with no avail. The water was so mucky. I was desperate. I didn't know if or where she had fallen in the water but each time I would dive down with my eyes so wide open hoping that the deeper I went down the greater the chance for some miracle, that I might see a hand or foot. Nothing again. As I would come up each time I would get mad at myself for not being able to hold my breath longer or go down deeper. I would say to myself “This is my daughter, why can't I find her?”
After numerous attempts in the water I got out to search the houseboat again. I thought maybe by some small miracle she had fallen asleep somewhere. Obviously looking back there wasn't enough time for her to fall asleep but in the moment of panic you just try to think of any and all possibilities. Still nothing. I believe Alicia Holmgren phoned for help. The search began on other houseboats. Maybe she was hiding there. Things were not looking good. I pleaded with God for a miracle. My soul was tormented and I didn't know what to do. I told God that I would do anything to get her back. “Take me, let me die,” I pleaded with God in my mind as I raced to find her. As time passed we knew things were not looking good.
JD Dawson, Bryce Morris, & Josh Holmgren offered to give Kim & I a priesthood blessing. Again as I had mentioned earlier this is God's authority to act in his name. It's very important that the person giving the blessing act accordingly. We don't ask for things that go against God's will. It is very difficult to make sure that the person giving the blessing is in tune enough with the Holy Spirit to give a blessing according to His will and not ours. JD went out on the dock near the house boat. Kim was lying there curled up in a ball. JD scooped her literally lifeless body and carried her into the houseboat and set her down on the chair. As calmly as I could I, with the others, placed my hands upon Kim's head and I administered a blessing to her. I don't recall what was said but the Lord allowed me enough calmness to give her the blessing that she needed. Those that were present mentioned how powerful of a blessing it was. I wish that I could remember all that was said but I did not promise her that Kamberlie would be found alive but I did say that the Lord knew what was best for us and would some how take care of us. I then was given a blessing by Josh Holmgren. I just can't remember anything that was said. Sorry guys I just wasn't doing so hot.
The search continued. We searched up and down every houseboat on that dock. It was now time that we needed to call family and let them know the horrific news. I will never forget the first call that I made. It was to my Dad. I said in a very solemn, calm, desperate, raspy, slow & scared voice with tears running down both cheeks, "Dad Kamberlie is missing." I will never forget what he uttered and how I felt when he said it. The best way to describe it is when he spoke it was as if he had swallowed something. It was caught in his throat. His voice was slightly raspy, trembling, & choked up all together in one motion. He said, with much emotion, pain, & sorrow, “OOOH NOOO.” Tears were running down my face and I knew at that moment he had began to feel what we had been feeling for the last hour or so. I really don't know how long it was before I called. It’s all a hellish blur.
We had family support within minutes it seemed. Ron & Lois Parry (Kim's parents) were graciously offered a private plane by EK Bailey where he worked. Thank you to Brent, you will never really understand how much that meant to Kim and I. What you did in my estimation deserves a magnitude of blessing from on High. Thank you for your generosity. May God bless you over & over for allowing us such a blessing. My parents went over to the West Jordan airport and hired a pilot to fly them to Lake Powell. It was a small little plane, one that my Dad would not normally dare to fly on except in such dire circumstances. It was so nice to have our parents with us that treacherous day. It was so hard. I just don't know how to explain it. That night was miserable to say the least.
We met search and rescue that day. They had professional divers come but still to no avail. The main guy for search and rescue after about an hour of diving said that they would continue the search in the morning. This was devastating to us. He pulled me aside and said, "Hey man if she is in the water there is no way that she is still alive." I told him that I realized that. It had been several hours. Let me take a minute to tell you what hell is like. If for nothing more, take my word for it, if this is hell then please do everything in your power to be good. A normal person can only take on that kind of pain and suffering for a short period of time without going absolutely insane or without help from a higher power. I know what it feels like to be up all night bawling. I know what it feels like to lay there and wonder where my daughter is. I know what it feels like to picture my daughter underwater calling out for Daddy, and no one coming to rescue her. I know what it feels like to imagine Kamberlie wanting so bad to yell for her Daddy, and yet there is no air. I know what it feels like to wonder how could I let my daughter suffer. I know what it feels like to wonder just how long she was alive while sinking. I know what it feels like to lay next to my wife and just hold her all night because she was inconsolable. I know what it feels like to have pits in my stomach that would not leave. I know what it feels like to want to die in her place. I know what it feels like to have my wife so heartbroken that nothing could take her pain away at the time. I know what it feels like to plead and plead and plead with God that she would somehow be okay. I know what it feels like to repeat over & over again “NO NO NO this is not happening.” I know what it feels like to dive into the water and not want to come up. I know what it feels like to run & run looking, searching, praying that we would find her alive. I know what it feels like to hear someone tell the police that they thought they saw Kamberlie being taken away against her will. I know what it feels like to do nothing but wait day after day after day for them to find her. I know what it feels like to see my wife die physically & emotionally. I know what it feels like to see her pain and it just killed me. I know what it feels like to pray for answers and not get them when I want. I know what it feels like to be on the Lord's time table. I know what it feels like to hope & pray and beg for a miracle. I know what it feels like to not be consoled. I know what it feels like to wait for four days to find out her fate. I know what it feels like to pace back and forth day after day with no answers. I know what it feels like to lose a child. I know what it feels like to lose my little Kamberlie.
Why do I go into so much detail? Because it hurt so bad and so deep that there could only be one way out of this. I tell you this because many people hurt like I did. I tell you this because God loves me as much as he does you and he provided a way to help us heal. God sent his only begotten son, even Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, to come to this earth and die for Kamberlie, for me, & for you. The atonement is real! I will never deny it. It has been a long 2+ years I will admit, but we could not be where we are today with out the atonement. Although I wish that the healing could be immediate, that is not God's way. He has to allow us to go through as much as we can on our own. Then the miracle of the atonement takes the rest from off our backs. Oh how I love my Savior. How else can I say it? Whatever trials we are asked to go through, Jesus Christ is right there waiting for us to ask Heavenly Father for help. There is no problem too big or too small to get the help we need.
You see, Kim & I made a decision a long time ago that what ever trials we would need to go through (We never thought that we would lose a child) that we would never pose the question of “Why God? Why would you do this to us? How could you?” We agreed that we would accept God's will and seek his help in our adversity. Well now was the test of our faith. I made up my mind in the 5th grade that I would never do drugs, smoke, or drink. That was easy. If someone asked me to do one of those things I politely declined. But now my faith was going to be tested more than I had ever imagined. In a special blessing that I was given as a teenager I was told that I would come to crossroads in my life and that I would need to ponder & pray at those critical times in my life. If this wasn't a crossroad then I don't know what is. The big question was, could I indeed keep my promise to the Lord that I would accept His will in all things? So far so good. Not once, and I'm not patting myself on the back, but not once did Kim or I say “Why?!” Not once! All we did was plead for help that we could get through this hell together.
Onto dreadful day number two. We made it through the night with little or no sleep at all. We looked horrendous. The search & rescue team arrived. They searched all day directly by the houseboat. Nothing. The day was long. We prayed, pondered, paced, cried, & the day was still not over. Finally the day was coming to a close and now we had to endure another night. Kim was not eating. She looked horrible. Please don't let me have another night like that. It was torture enough that our daughter was missing, now I had to live through a literally dying wife. Day three they brought in a search dog. We had to provide clothing of Kamberlie's so that the dog could pick up her scent. They told us that the dog followed her scent all around our house boat but also to the edge of the dock and he even jumped into the water to follow her scent. This could not be. There is no way in that amount of time that she was missing that she could have went all the way down to the other end of the dock. The investigator posed the question like this. Well, sometimes you think that is was only a few seconds or even minutes but is there a chance that it was five or ten minutes? Kim & I emphatically said no. Not a chance. We know how long it was and there is no way that she is down there by that part of the dock. Our opinion didn't matter. As far as they were concerned the dog picked up the scent at the end of the dock and that is where they would search for her that day. That is where they spent the entire day looking, right by that spot. We watched all that day and then when night came we watched them clean up their stuff and leave for the night. We knew that if she was in the water (and we were having some doubts by now) that she would have fallen right by the house boat. We were beginning to wonder if there was some possible way that she was not in the water. This was, of course, false hope, for deep down inside we knew that that would be impossible. For me this was a night of short segments of sleep being awakened by either my tears or Kim's. That is so hard to do by the way. To wake up because the bed is slightly shaking and find that Kim or I would just be bawling. You couldn't keep your body still. Those kinds of sobs couldn’t be kept to ourselves, inevitable one of us would wake the other with our trembling. She was trying to be quiet but just couldn't. We would lay there curled up in a ball, having no way to be comforted. I would put my arm around her but how could I console her in such a case? My heart was broken twice. Once by my little girl and the other by my wife. I wondered if she would ever be the same. I wouldn't blame her if she wasn't.
I do need to say now though that Kim is an inspiration to not only me but all who know her. She is absolutely amazing. She has surpassed all expectations. She has shown all of us just how to utilize the atonement. I thank her so much for allowing Christ to take over and help her heal. Don't get me wrong, Kim still hurts like crazy for her baby, but it is a miracle to be a witness of God's power right here in our own home.
By now word had spread and the media wanted interviews. Everyone said don't talk to the media. They will distort the story. They are out to sell news and will not be looking out for your best interest. I allowed everyone to state their opinion but at the end of the day I just felt that I needed to talk to them. I didn't know why I would have this prompting but I did and I heeded it. So I did some phone interviews.
Day number four. This day was different in that they brought in some better equipment and another rescue team. I would like to thank the rescue team for finding our little girl. They assured us that they would not leave until she was found. I don't know if I ever had the chance to thank them: Thank you so much for helping us out so much. They were now searching directly around the houseboat again. To be honest I was so relieved that she was not found at the end of the dock. I was so sure that she could not have made it that far and yet I began to doubt myself because of what the experts were saying. It was a very calm feeling on day number four. I was beginning to feel the affects of the atonement. I was also so glad to see them searching by our house boat again.
I believe it was early afternoon when a good friend of mine, Rob Derho, mentioned that he was there at Lake Powell. He said that he had a hotel room. He had brought us breakfast that morning. I love that guy. He has an amazing story of his own. Ask him sometime or call him out and make him blog about it. Anyway he offered his hotel room and I accepted. We were just stuffed in that houseboat. I needed to take a walk anyway. We went up to his room and showered, shaved, and just got cleaned up. After a few hours up there I suddenly had a strong urge to get back to the houseboat. A feeling that is difficult to explain, a little antsy maybe. Anxious you could say. So we left the hotel and headed down for the houseboat. My Dad called me on my cell as I was almost back and said to come back, the search and rescue wanted to see me. I knew that they had located her even though he wouldn't say. I could just feel it. By then I had this overwhelming feeling that it was over, we could put this to bed, and that I could do this. I could make it. God would help me through this. We could have closure and begin to move forward instead of backward. It was an amazing feeling. I know with certainty that these feeling that had began to surface were from none other than a loving Heavenly Father who allowed me to walk until I could not walk any more. Those feelings were so needed at that given time. I really don't think I could have gone another day. The Lord stepped in and I am so grateful for that. I am just awe strucked as I look back and see just how involved the Lord was in all of this. And yet He didn't just allow us immediate comfort & relief. It was a process. The atonement is a process in each of our lives. For some the effects come sooner than later, for others they might seem immediate. What ever the case may be we must be patient and humbly wait while prayerfully asking for help. Help will come according to our faith. We have to want & ask for the help. We had been praying multiple times each day but the real answers and comfort came on day number four.
As we approached the houseboat they gathered the family together inside with the curtains closed. They told us that we may not want to see her since her body might not look so good after being in the water for that long. It took them about 30 minutes to bring her carefully up. As they worked outside of the house boat we were all inside anxiously waiting. There was a very special feeling in that little room. Kamberlie was there with out question. She was a witness to the heart felt testimonies that were borne. Each person was given an opportunity to speak their mind. There was great power as we spoke of sweet doctrine. We talked about the Plan of Salvation and what that meant to each of us. Hearts were softened and the Holy Ghost bore witness to these truths. I was very grateful at that moment to have most of our family present. Time passed so quickly and before we knew it they had laid her little body on the back of the house boat and came inside to tell us. I told everyone that I wanted to go out on the deck alone first. I went out there and knelt over her tiny corpse. I stroked her wet blonde hair and kissed her cold cheeks over & over. I didn't want to leave her side. But I had to find out from God if he would allow a miracle to take place. I then went into the back room and pleaded for a miracle. I am a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I have the priesthood which is the power of God to act in his name. This is the same power & authority that Jesus used to raise Lazarus from the dead and all of the other miracles that he performed. I asked with my whole soul if I could lay my hands upon her head and bring her back. I even told him that I would take her place if necessary, if he would grant me this desire. I had the faith necessary if he would allow it. I said to my Heavenly Father not my will but Thine be done. Then clear as day, the answer came. Everyday we were praying for a miracle. Everyday we were asking but no answer came until now. “No. No my son. It shall not be so, it is her time.” With tears in my eyes I said “okay, I accept Thy will and please help me and my family get through this. I know that we can't do it alone.”
I went back out on the deck and spent a few more sacred, precious moments with her. I told her that I prayed for a miracle and that it wasn't His will. I asked her to always be with us and to watch over us. We were going to need her help to get through this. Selfishly I could have stayed out there for hours but I was also wanted each of our family members present to feel what I was feeling by her side. It was as if she was patting me on the back and saying, "Daddy it's okay, I'm happy". It was very peaceful.
The search & rescue team cautioned us about looking at Kamberlie. They said that she might not look like the Kamberlie that you knew before and that maybe some of you might want to keep the image of Kamberlie before she drowned fresh in your minds. I then went back into the house boat and told everyone about my prayer and also told them of another tender mercy of God. I told them that her body was perfect. Everything about her was perfect. Her face was that of an angel. The water had not changed her appearance in the least. God gave us one last time to look upon her as she was before she drowned. It had been four days since we had seen her. Heavenly Father was so kind to allow us that special moment. So Kim & I went out alone together. This was a special time for us to share. Quite a sacred moment. That was so hard to see Kim weeping over her little daughter’s lifeless body. I was so happy to have found her and yet to see Kim's pain was excruciating. We allowed the grandparents to come out next, then our siblings, each taking a sacred moment to say goodbye to her physical body.
During this time that she was gone, Staley (4 yrs old at the time) knew that she was missing but he was still playing and having fun, probably thinking that she was just away for a bit. We debated if Staley should see her and we agreed that he should. My heart was crushed as finally her older brother realized just what had happened. He stepped out onto the deck with a smile on his face. Not melancholy at all. More of an attitude of a playful nature. Obviously not yet affected by her being missing. As soon as he saw her he gasped a deep breath and simultaneously backed away, being slightly scared and afraid. The slight smile on his face went blank and his eyes got wide. Just looking at him I knew that even as a four year old boy he finally knew that his best friend was gone. From that day on it has been a rough road for my little Staley. It's hard to see my wife in pain but now I’ve had to see on multiple occasions my little boy break down and ask me “why, why did she have to leave? Why did Heavenly Father need her? I need her. She is my sister and I miss her so much. Heavenly Father didn't need her I needed her!” How else can you explain to a little boy that Heavenly Father needed her now. To a little four year old boy that answer just wasn't enough. We have had many discussions since and he has come a long way. I'm so proud of him. Not many children have to endure such hardships like he has.
We didn't want to leave her while on the back of the boat. We wanted to just hold her in her little white shirt and wet jeans. This was my little girl. I wanted to just stay there for hours. Unfortunately search & rescue need to proceed with what they needed to do. Protocol was to take her back to Salt Lake City and have an autopsy done. That gave me the creeps that they were going to cut her open. It was hard to let her go. I asked if I could ride with her in their vehicle. They told me that it would not be a good idea. I was dreading the long drive home without my little girl. JD Dawson was just amazing. I had just met him and we had formed a great bond over all of this. He lined up a private jet for us to go home in. That was such a blessing. We arrived at the West Jordan airport, where there was a limo & flowers waiting for us. We got home to our whole yard in pink ribbons & heart felt notes. It was so wonderful to see so many people that wanted to help out in anyway that they could.
Now for those of you who have ever been discouraged with prayers or think that God doesn't hear or answer prayers I have to be the one to tell you otherwise. For starters, I pleaded with God that since we couldn't bring her back that He would please help us get through this. Not only were our prayers answered, but other people in the community were moved to help in ways that we didn't pray or ask for. From dinners, to donations, to private jets, and prayers, we were being watched over in our darkest hour.
The next month was easy relative to the year that would follow. Let me make it very clear to all that read this. The clear and distinct impression came over me and I not only knew but felt thousands upon thousands of prayers in our behalf. It was truly amazing. That feeling of needing to talk to the media was very important. We needed those prayers. The ensuing months are the ones that were of greatest difficulty. Although people were still praying for us life continued for the masses that were following the story on the news. I then look back at why I had felt so strongly to talk to the media. We needed those prayers of more than just our family and friends. We got just that.
It's taken me two plus years to be able to write this experience down. I couldn't sleep and the memories just flooded in. I knew that I had to get up and write this, for how long I would be able to remember without writing them down, I don't know. I have however attempted to write my thoughts & feeling down on numerous other occasions but every time I tried I was overcome by my emotions & pain and could not do it. I have been writing for a majority of the night. I am so grateful that my Heavenly Father has given me the strength to write these thoughts & feelings down. I am so sorry if you were one of the people that made a donation, prayed, brought in dinner, helped plan the funeral, buy pink bears as a remembrance, or whatever you did, and didn't get a thank you. So I tell you now. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. You will never know just how much it meant to us. I know that Jesus Christ is real. He really did die for you and I that we might have comfort & relief in this life. There is a plan for all of us. Life is not just a series of events. I will tell you with all my heart that this life is the time to prepare to meet God as it says in the scriptures. What we do and how we act in this life will be a direct result of where we will go the life to come. There is life after death. I know this. It is not just a wish. I know that I will see Kamberlie again. It is through the great atonement of Jesus Christ that makes this possible. Those of you who have lost a loved one know what it feels like. I just hope and pray that you also know what it feels like to have the knowledge that you too can be with them again one day. Please feel free to contact us if there is anything that we can do to help you. We hope that through our trials & hardships that we might help bring peace & hope to all who read our story. Again please feel free to share our blog with those that are broken hearted or just need to be uplifted. I know how hard it is to heal but I testify that healing can come to all who will open the door for our Savior. He is knocking but can't come in unless we simply open the door.
I admire you two, so much. She was so perfect, and she passed her test in just three short years, but she had you as parents to guide her in that.ReplyDelete
Whenever I need some sort of extra push, I come to your blog, and it reminds me of why I need to keep going with my head held as high as possible. You guys really inspire me, and not just the two of you, but Kamberlie as well. She has truly touched my life, through this blog. And, maybe that's half the lesson she was sent here to teach.
It is so strange to me, that someone so little, and someone I have never met can have that sort of influence on my life. But, I can say without a doubt in my mind, that the story, has made me a better person. It also has restored my faith, and there is no better gift that I could ask for. Thank you so much for sharing this experience with the world, because you have touched many lives with it.
Kim and Austin,ReplyDelete
I have read your story many times before. I will never know the heartbreak that you went through. Your pain and suffering and love have really touched my heart. You have a wonderful family and relationship and I envy the knowledge that you have of the gospel. I know this is horrible but your little girl brought Kim back into my life and I thank god for that. I just wish that I could have know Kamberlie!
My heart goes out to you and your family each and everyday.
I know that the pain is always there but the love is stronger! You both are amazing!
WOW what can anyone say??? I`m so sorry and yet everything you said about Jesus Christ is so true! I hope writting this can help you heal even a little bit more my prayers are with all of you. You and your family are very strong and amazing. We know Nicole very well and heard about this from our son Cole whom she told at the time when it happened. Kamberlie was a very beautiful little girl and just keep remembering the wonderful times you had with her.. Dan and Babette StaggeReplyDelete
Thank you brother. You have given men strength that I neededReplyDelete
Thank you for your strength in the Lord. I appreciate your referral to your blog in Stake Conference. I will pass this on to people with questions on how to cope with such a loss.ReplyDelete