An Internet record of a Life Celebrated and a Death Mourned


Meg Stout

Presented at the Washington DC Sunstone Symposium in Spring 1995


            The other day on a local public radio talk show, the author of the book “Silicon Snake Oil” was discussing his premise that the ‘information superhighway’ is over-rated.  He decried the practice of placing computers in our schools, saying that anything that comes between teacher and student is an obstacle.  He stated that time spent in front of the computer would be better spent elsewhere.  And as the callers tried to point out the virtues of the world wide web, e-mail, and cyber-friends, he would counter, pointing out the virtues of a good human librarian, the value of a handwritten letter, and the richness of an evening walk with a neighbor.

            Given that I am delivering this talk, with its title and summary, I obviously don’t wholly subscribe to this man’s premise.  And if I hadn’t kept getting a busy signal that day, I would have tried to tell him a synopsis of what I hope you experience today – that beyond the flames and rudeness, beyond the anonymity of cyberspace, there can be love and compassion and richness.  That our relations with one another on the net can enhance our lives (not that they were all that bad before).

            Before I begin reading the e-mail letters themselves, let me give you some background on how I came to subscribe to Mormon-l and why I post as I do.

            In the early eighties we got automated at my work.  The dream was of the paperless office, and eventually simple on-line access to a mainframe was upgraded to the ability to exchange e-mail and access newsgroups.  Then in the early nineties I began to realize that beyond the newsgroups containing the latest policy statements and notices about timecards, there was a world of groups dealing with subjects from Bosnia to cesium.  I eventually gravitated to a group called soc.religion.christian and began taking in the traffic there.

            At first I would read every post and response, then I began deleting subjects that didn’t interest me, and finally I found myself reading only those subjects that strongly interested me.  Along the way I corresponded with a few people, but after the first few messages we would tend to drift apart, finding better things to do with our time than have intense computer discussions with a nice, but total, stranger.  Particularly with strangers who for the most part didn’t begin to understand my world-view as a Mormon.

            Back in late 1993 Arden Eby told me about Mormon-l (then  Mormon-l is a mailing list set up so that when you are subscribed, you get copies of all the e-mail that people send to that list.  So while it is a fairly well-populated place, it takes a bit of effort to find it.

            At the beginning it seemed I would post comments, and nobody would answer or follow up on what I had said.  There were weeks when I thought that maybe there was a bug in the software, and I was getting all of their messages, but they weren’t getting any of mine.  Then (as I recall, I was almost to the point of quitting Mormon-l) I began to get occasional strokes, and I realized that I was being heard, and that people pretty much like what I said.  I also understood then why some people make absolutist statements peppered with derogatory language – it is one sure way of making certain that people respond.

            Since I don’t like being caught in a lie, I usually avoid confrontational and absolutist speech in my posts.  Even so, in the spring of 1994 I had posted what I thought was a fairly innocuous piece about how my father and his sister, who are Chinese, were treated by church members when they came to Utah in 1960.  A young man of a rather evangelical bent apparently thought I was being an evil influence and flamed me up one side and down another for my murmuring, apostate, vicious attacks on the sweet, non-racist, completely good people of the church.  I was very hurt and angry, and sat down to give him a piece of my mind.  But somewhere between here and there I realized that I didn’t want to respond in kind, and resolved that I wouldn’t post anything that I couldn’t in honesty close with the word “Love.”  So much for background.

             Sometime in April of 1994 I had found out that I was pregnant with my husband’s first child.  Often in my posts I would refer to the growing child.  When we learned the baby was a boy, I slipped in that we would be naming him William Arthur Stout.

            And so we come to October, 1994.



From: Meg Stout

Subject: Hi friends


Date: Mon, 24 Oct 1994 17:21:09 –0700 (PDT)


Dear friends,


I have spent the last hour pleasantly reading the posts I have missed since last Thursday.  It’s like walking into a room of beloved family and hearing a mass of funny jokes, old arguments, and new children vying for attention.  I wish I had something so light-hearted to share with you right now


      Unfortunately, I have some bad

      Last Thursday when I went in for my regular prenatal check-up, they discovered that William Arthur’s heart rate was abnormally elevated.



            At this point a nurse came in to check my vital signs, and through my tears I hit send instead of save.  In the few minutes until I was able to post the full message I received several notes of encouragement.  Bob Boisvert wrote “my wife asks, ‘Is she sure that William Arthur isn’t really Wilhelmina Audrey?’ …prenatal girls heart rates are usually faster than prenatal boys.”[1]  Susan McMurray confided that her daughter, Katie, also had an elevated heart rate caused by the umbilical cord being wrapped too tightly around her neck, but “she is perfectly OK now.”[2]



From: Meg Stout

Subject: dear friends


Date: Mon, 24 Oct 1994 18:04:22 –0700 (PDT)


So much for easing into this subtly… In a moment of distraction I accidentally hit send… sorry.


My dear friends,


I am so glad to have come to know you over these months, and though Bryan and I only know a few of you outside of cyberspace, I wanted to share what is happening in our lives.


As I was saying when I so rudely interrupted myself… The baby’s heart rate was abnormally high when I went in for my check-up last Thursday.  The doctor sent me to the hospital, where they did a sonogram, monitored me overnight, from whence the sent me on to Georgetown Hospital to a pediatric cardiologist, who did yet another detailed sonogram.


The good news is that the high heart rate can be brought under control with digoxin – administered to me and through me to the baby.  By controlling the heart rate, there is hope that Arthur’s heart will not go into cardiac failure and he will have the chance to be born.  That is why I am in the hospital now and will be for the next few days.[3]


The bad news is that the high heart rate (supraventricular tachycardia for the doctors and nurses out there) is associated with a rare congenital heart defect – essentially the leaflets of one of the valves have formed down inside the ventricle, instead of in the ring between the right atrium and ventricle.  This will greatly reduce the amount of blood flowing through the lungs and will almost certainly result in death within the first few days of life.


Our ward will be fasting for Arthur the first Sunday of November – please join with us if you feel so inclined.  Our best realistic hope is that he be born and we have the chance to hold him, that the doctors learn something from him that will help others suffering from this condition.


Having this knowledge at this time has given us the chance to prepare for whatever God wills.  Having been on the receiving end of Arthur’s kicks, I think his will would be to be born.  I am also led to believe that Arthur’s stubborn enough to take a chance at life, if there is any chance at all.


I know that there are more pressing problems in the world, and I know that it will be OK whether Arthur dies now, after birth, or at the ripe old age of eighty.  But whatever happens, it will be easier knowing that you are there with us.




Meg & Bryan Stout



            Needless to say, many sent messages of love and support, sharing also the pain they had suffered when their children had been sick or miscarried or died as infants.  In one case a friend my husband, Bryan, knew from his ward in Illinois mailed us, telling of the pain he and his wife had suffered as three of their babies miscarried – one, Benjamin, just eight hours before birth.[4]

            I was in the hospital for several more days until the dose was high enough in my system to bring Arthur’s heart rate under control.  One of the possibilities was that Arthur would fail to thrive and might die before birth.  In a private e-mail, I recorded how I was thinking about the possibilities facing us:[5]



Date: Tues, 25 Oct 1994 09:03:08 –0700 (PDT)


My mom taught us that the body of a child before birth is like a house under construction – the owner comes and visits frequently, is very involved with the process, but doesn’t take actual possession until birth.  If I were Arthur, I’d be really mad at the workman who dropped the leaflets and left them on the ventricle floor…


If Arthur doesn’t make it to birth, I figure that he has, regretfully, opted out of this particular body.  He’ll try again.  I visualize him as having been so excited about the particular array of capabilities this body had, hopefully about the particular folk his birth would have related him to.  But that heart thing was a pretty big boo-boo – perhaps if he weren’t so happy about the rest of the package, he would have let this body miscarry long before now.


      If Arthur just barely makes it to birth and is with us for just a few hours or days beyond that, then I figure he pulled all the stops to make sure he got that body, got to be in our family… After all, resurrection will take care of the heart problem, and he has several other relatives who have died young – I’m sure they are doing a work that might tempt a young spirit to want to join them.


      And if Arthur somehow cons God and nature into allowing his poor little heart to sustain him in this life – well, we will do everything in our power to help him out.



            I had begun desiring not so much what I wanted, and not even so much what God wanted, but what Arthur wanted.

            A few weeks later I reported back on how things were going.



From: Meg Stout

Subject: Little Arthur


Date: Wed, 16 Nov 1994 09:55:36 –0800 (PST)


Hello everyone,


      I just wanted to thank all those who fasted with us last fast Sunday in behalf of our as-yet-unborn son, William Arthur Stout.


      The medication has successfully suppressed Arthur’s fast heart rate, and to date he usually scores 10 out of 10 on his tri-weekly bio-physical profiles (2 points each for breathing, muscle tone, movement, adequate amniotic fluid, and heart rate reactivity).  So if only there were some way for me to keep oxygenating his blood for the rest of his life, we’d be in like flint (Arthur’s tricuspid valve is misplaced, so that the part of the heart that will pump blood through the lungs after his birth is *extremely* small.  Heart surgery won’t help, and babies with this severe of a defect don’t usually last long enough for heart transplant).


      I am grateful for many things:


*     Good friends in my husband, daughter, extended family, ward, work, and here on mormon-l who have provided support and magically avoided cruel, callous, or fumbling advice.


*     The knowledge that Arthur’s defect is not hereditary and is in no way attributable to anything I or my husband have done wrong.


*     Good healthcare :)


*     Having the chance to prepare in advance, to have the chance to apply faith and prayer.


*     Not having known so far in advance that abortion was offered me as a potential solution.


*     In a weird way I’m glad to know that the severity of the defect is as bad as it is, so if Arthur does survive, we know that it is by fasting and prayer and the grace of God.


*     I’m glad to find myself possessed of an unquestioning faith in the resurrection.


*     If Arthur does die, I’m glad to know that he has a work to do on the other side – and plenty of relatives to help him out on the other side; Grandma Chiu’s little boy she lost while fleeing from the Japanese in China, Grandma Heywood’s little Arthur who died shortly after birth, Mom’s little Katie, my sister Tisha’s little Richard Alexander.  They’re a good group, and though I’d much rather have my son with me, now, healthy… I don’t mind so much knowing he’ll be in their company.


      It’s a little hard to ‘demand’ Arthur’s life of the Lord – especially in the year that has shown us Rwandan children and adults hacked to death with machetes, Haitians murdered in the streets, and other innocents around the globe killed and maimed in wars or by abuse or by their peers.  But just as the good Lord occasionally sees fit to find someone’s lost button or find some child’s lost puppy, I know that He can help Arthur.  And if for some reason He doesn’t, I know I have absolutely no reason to fault Him for it.


      Thank you all for your love and support.




Meg Stout



            Again I received several notes of continued support.  In particular I enjoyed a story Ron Scott told me about his nephew who had fallen 80 feet and only had hairline fractures – the next day after a blessing even these had disappeared.  He wrote:



Date: Thu, 17 Nov 1994 07:54:04 -0500


Subject: Re: Little Arthur


Dear Meg,


Thanks for the update on you and Arthur.  We hope all goes well.


I was especially moved by your confidence that if things change for the better, it will be because of faith.


I’ve always discounted the power of faith until recently. My 12-year-old nephew fell from the top of a tall pine tree, 80 feet top the ground.


He was air-lifted from Concord, Ma, into Children’s Hospital in Boston.  My wife and I got to Children’s before the helicopter arrived.  So we saw him wheeled into the emergency room (critical condition).


It was miraculous enough that he had survived; had landed between huge rocks instead of on them; and had not been paralyzed.


The X-rays showed only a hairline fracture of his skull (it ran the circumference of his skull) and some cracked ribs.


Follow-up x-rays taken a day later revealed no fractures or cracks anywhere.


My sister told me of the doctor’s surprise and, being more religious than am I, told me “what they didn’t know was the special power.”


A few days later, I was walking out of a restaurant when I noticed a woman hobbling along on crutches.  Her right leg was encased in a dreadful-looking device that was applying traction to her fractured leg.


I said “what happened.”  She replied: “I fell stepping down from a curb yesterday.”


We chatted for a while.  Then I told her the story of my nephew, who had been released from the hospital that day.


“Is your nephew the boy from Concord… the one my doctors were referring to as the miracle boy.  He had fractures one day and they were gone the next.”


“That’s my nephew,” I said, wondering if the doctors were calling it a miracle why shouldn’t I?


So this old cynic is reviewing his regard for faith.  Most of all, your post convinced me that you both have the personal resolve to deal with the challenges ahead.  May God be with all of you.





            Life continued.  The doctors had me coming in every two to three days for sonograms and fetal monitoring, and I continued working full time.  Then in December after a morning of meetings, I went to the clinic for monitoring.  The doctors saw something in the results and sent me straight from the clinic to the maternity ward.  Now it is rumored that women forget the pain of labor.  This may or may not be, but one thing is true of me.  When I am pregnant and in labor I forget things.  As I was preparing this presentation I came across the following letter, and I had absolutely no memory of writing it.  How do you forget writing a page of text on a portable computer while you are in labor?  But here it was – a message sent to my mom and sisters.



From: Meg Stout

Subject: From the laboring woman

Date: Thu, 8 Dec 1994 11:25:29 –0800 (PST)


Hello ladies,


      I’m here at Georgetown on pitocin having contractions every 3 to 5 minutes.  I’m still only 1 centimeter dilated and when they checked me at 11 a.m. I was only 25% effaced (i.e., thinned out, cervix-wise), but that may change…


      Mom and Richard and Bryan are here – Mom can’t remember how to retrieve her voice mail remotely, so if any of you have tried to call her, you’re out of luck.


      The reason I’m in here is that yesterday, during one of the routine checks, Arthur’s heart rate decelerated significantly while I was having a contraction.  This raised the specter that I might go into labor at home, Arthur might not do well, and he might not make it through delivery.


So now they are monitoring me and (now) he’s doing just fine.  The pitocin was originally just to stimulate contractions so that the doctors could see how he was doing, but since he’s a day or four overdue and his estimated weight (done by sonogram) is 8 lbs., 10 oz., there’s no particular reason to keep him in there cooking.  So we’re on pitocin in anticipation of a vaginal birth either today or tomorrow, with the possibility that if he starts showing signs of stress, they will pop him out C-section.  It would really be better for him to be born vaginally, since the contractions help ‘stiffen his upper lip’ and squeeze excess fluid from his lungs, making it easier for him to breathe when the time comes.


After Arthur is born he will be ‘stabilized,’ and then when he’s an hour or so old he will be transferred to Children’s Hospital.  Another reason I would prefer a vaginal birth is that it won’t take me as long to recover, and I can go be with kid in the hospital, rather than languishing here alone expressing milk and wondering what’s going on.


Given the possibility of C-section, I am on ice chips (so there will be nothing to throw-up in reaction to the potential anesthesia).  Boo hoo.  Since they have me on an IV, my body is still getting plenty of fluid, so I still have to use the facilities constantly – there is no rest for the pregnant lady.


Other than that, life is pretty boring.  Take care and I’ll write more when there is more to say.







            That same day I got back three chatty, concerned notes.  Arthur wasn’t born during the second day of labor, so they turned off the pitocin for the night and let me get some sleep.  At the end of my *third* day of labor, I wrote the following:



From: Meg Stout

Subject: Arthur’s here!

Date: Fri, 9 Dec 1994 20:10:46 –0800 (PST)


Dear family and friends,


      Little William Arthur Stout was born at 17:29 EST on 9 December 1994 at Georgetown University Hospital by caesarean section and weighed 7lbs, 15.3 oz.  In spite of his heart anomaly, he scored 6-8 on his Apgar test and is pink and hale.  He is being transferred to Children’s Hospital where, if necessary and if he is healthy enough, they will perform palliative surgery at two weeks to increase the flow of blood to the lungs.  If all goes well, he could come home in a month.  At approximately 1 year of age they can do corrective surgery to ‘fix’ the anomaly – basically patching the vena cava directly into the pulmonary arteries, bypassing the right side of the heart entirely.


      When we first informed most of you about our concerns for our then-unborn son, we had been given to understand that Arthur’s chances were very slim.  We feel that as a result of your thoughts, prayers, and fasting on our behalf we were prompted to consult Dr. Martin at Children’s Hospital.  Although statistics can be misleading, since a child doesn’t die 5% at a time, Dr. Martin outlined the following as a possible path for a fetus diagnosed with serious Ebstein’s anomaly (i.e., Arthur):


Event                         Age / Probability

of demise


Diagnosis                     Before birth


Fetal death                   Before birth / 10-20%


Neonatal death                0-2 weeks / 5%

given Arthur’s



Palliative surgery            2 weeks / <5%


Infection/Not candidate       ??

For final surgery


Final Corrective Surgery      1 year / 10-15%


Long Term Follow-up           1-25 years / 5%


      Arthur has already made it to a healthy birth, thanks to the skilled efforts of Dr. Lencki and his group at Georgetown Hospital.  We may yet have to worry about long term plans for Arthur… we only hope!


      Thank you all so much for your love and concern.




Meg & Bryan Stout



            I had written this last letter an hour after regaining consciousness.  Bryan has several unflattering photos of this!  After I sent the message, the nurse told us we couldn’t use ungrounded appliances, so between one thing and another I didn’t send e-mail for a week.  We received many notes of congratulations and well wishes and that week Bryan wrote the following as part of a discussion about priesthood:



Subject: Re: “Usurping” priesthood (was Re: Relief Society Envy)


Date: Fri, 16 Dec 1994 07:01:50 –0800 (PST)


This is Bryan Stout, Meg’s husband.


I have enjoyed this discussion, and am reminded of experiences past and present.  Chuck Hamaker mentioned the way the ritual aspects help prepare the mind.  When I was in graduate school the father of a family I home-taught called and asked me to help him bless a newborn child who was in intensive care for some problem I forget.  The act of scrubbing the hands up to the elbows and donning gown and mask, new to me, had that exact effect of helping me feel I was cleansing myself and preparing for a holy function.  Even though my part was the fairly mechanical one of anointing, I felt the quiet warmth that comes from working according to the Lord’s will.  This was especially meaningful to me at that time since I was not feeling especially worthy beforehand, and it helped me understand better how God can work with us while in our weaknesses, not just chastising when needed, but lifting and encouraging as well.


Now, with our son Arthur, I get many opportunities to both scrub and bless.  I usually try to approach the giving of blessings by being in tune with the spirit’s promptings as much as possible, and say what he would have me say.


My understanding of listening to the spirit has changed gradually: in the last year or two I have suspected that the still, small voice is even more quiet than I realized, and that many thoughts I had been attributing to my own judgment were really the spirit bringing wise things to my mind — I certainly usually regretted not heeding them promptly.  Two experiences with Arthur reinforce this:  I kept feeling we should get a second opinion about Meg’s pregnancy, even though I expected no different a diagnosis.  Finally we followed through on this, and found at Children’s Hospital a team of specialists who not only could diagnose the defect, but had a plan of action and a much more hopeful outlook.  We believe finding them is part of the answer to our prayers.  Secondly, on Tuesday night (Dec 6) I kept thinking that we ought to pack for the hospital stay – Meg was now due, but there was no sign yet of serious labor.  It turned out that her routine checkup led to an extended stay, induced labor, and finally the C-section birth.  Though it is a little thing, I am grateful for the quiet insistence that the time to pack had come.


Another way my understanding has changed is that giving blessings is more than speaking as prompted.  I have had the quiet conviction that the Lord *wants* me to take a more assertive role.  The evening before Arthur’s surgery, after praying in my heart and feeling in tune, I blessed him to be strong through the surgery, and that the medical staff would have alert minds and sure hands.[6]  I spoke these words more from my own desires than from waiting for promptings.  Arthur came out fine, although there were continual problems through the surgery with arrhythmias (tachycardia and fibrillations).  We believe this blessing helped overcome these problems.


I now look on exercising the priesthood as a participatory process with the Lord.  We try to keep our eyes single to Him, and He in turn delights to sustain His sons and daughters in their righteous desires.  If I were speaking to Deanna Holmes’ pastor friend, I might share my understanding that earthly priesthood does not constrain the Lord’s sovereignty, since he has promised to say “Amen”[7] to any unrighteous attempt; rather he authorizes us to act on His behalf, and sustains us so we can learn to be more like him through the experience.


I want to add my sincere thanks for all your best wishes and prayers on our son’s behalf.  Arthur is stable but still critical, with his tachycardia not under control yet; his blood pressure and oxygen levels are good, though.  Later today I will have another chance to exercise the priesthood.


“Make my way, day by day”



            The other e-mail records of that week were written by my Mom on the day of Arthur’s surgery and the following day.



From: PaMaHeCh

Date: Wed, 14 Dec 1994 15:58:49 –0800 (PST)

Subject: Hooray for WArt Stout


Dear Family,

Today Wednesday, December 14, when he is in his fifth day of life, Arthur Stout underwent a surgical operation at the Children’s National Medical Center, also known as Children’s Hospital, to put a shunt of gortex between the chambers of his heart and suture shut the ineffective valve that is the root of his problem.  Yesterday I drove David and Jing to Children’s Hospital to visit Arthur.  David joined Bryan in giving Arthur a blessing.  Arthur’s condition was stable enough to risk the operation which took place at 8:30 AM and lasted about two hours.  He will require other operations when he is about one year old and five years old depending on his condition.  We are told that aside from the periodic surgeries and regular check-ups, he should have an essentially normal life.  He is a cute little guy with dark hair and almost invisible eyebrows and lashes and a faint resemblance to Winston Churchill in the determination of his miniscule chin.  Tara, his sister, will be flying out to Las Vegas to spend Christmas with her father for the holidays.  By the time she returns to Annandale, her brother will probably be home from the hospital.

Now we can get on with the regular business of Christmas.  Love Mom



From: PaMaHeCh

Date: Fri, 16 Dec 1994 23:22:24 –0500

Subject: Happy Birthday Arthur etc


Today on December 16, 1994, we mark the week birthday of Arthur.  He looks like a real space cadet with wires and tubes running to most of his major functions.  He is stable and improving after his surgery on the fourteenth.

 His new bed decoration in addition to all the charts and other gear that are stowed at the end of his conventional-sized hospital bed, is a bear from the first Lady, Hillary Clinton.  She dropped by Children’s Hospital today with a van full of toys and Saint Nicholas too and also a crew of Secret Service agents.  Meg caught a glimpse of Santa getting back into the van.

 She said that if it had been Nancy Reagan with Santa, she would have quickly identified the presence of a first lady by the second red suit.  Although she is reducing the pain medication prescribed for her C-section incision so that her milk will be acceptable to feed her baby when the situation permits, Meg is showing a lot of resilience.  I tend to flinch when the various alarms attached to the multitude of machines and medication IV’s go off.  Some ding, some beep, and some sound much like the Nazi police cars that came to collect Anne Frank.  Through it all, Arthur stays serene.  Of course he has no alternative.  In order to bring his heart rate down he is cooled by a blanket that circulates cool water.  In order to prevent him from shivering in response to the cool, he is given a drug that effectively stops him from shivering and as a side effect, stops him from breathing.  Therefore he is on a respirator.  Because he cannot cough any more than he can shiver at this time, he is suctioned at intervals.  Fortunately his lower drainage system works quite well and brings praise when the various medical personnel view his production of urine which is just as carefully measured and monitored as everything else.



            That Sunday evening I finally was able to get back to the keyboard.



From: Meg Stout

Subject: Arthur’s Passing

Date: Sun, 18 Dec 1994 21:26:14 –0800 (PST)


Dear family and friends,


      Our son, William Arthur Stout, passed away quietly Saturday morning.


      He was born Friday, 9 December 1994, and was transferred successfully to Children’s Hospital.  There he was doing well, with prostaglandins keeping the shunt open that allowed his blood to be oxygenated (it usually closes up at birth).  On Wednesday, Dr. Frank Midgely at Children’s Hospital performed a Blalock shunt operation, with full expectation of success.  It is a ‘standard’ neonatal cardiac operation with a 30 day mortality rate of only 2-5%.


      During surgery Arthur’s heart went into fibrillation a couple of times, and so Dr. Midgely installed a pacemaker which could be used if needed.  After the operation Dr. Midgely and the anesthesiologists, Dr.s Benedikt and Shay, looked tired, but confident of success.  That afternoon Arthur’s heart went into junction ectopic tachycardia (JET), a form of fast heart rate which is associated with the surgical ‘insult’ to the heart in children with heart rhythm problems, and which needed to heal of its own accord.  From Wednesday afternoon until Saturday morning Arthur was critical, but stable, with the doctors and nurses working calmly and expertly to keep his systems in balance.


      Arthur was quite a surprise – I had expected a sweet, blonde, elfin boy – the kind of kid you yearn to reach out and protect.  Instead, Arthur had a full head of dark auburn hair, with a barrel chest and the aspect of a baby Winston Churchill or Teddy Roosevelt – although he did have elf ears.  He had a gritty determined fight in him, which frankly made the prospect of being his parents at age two or seventeen rather daunting.  The doctors affectionately called him the Michelin man, partly for size, and partly because some of the drugs caused him to be puffy.  We were able to spend several hours each day with him, stroking his limbs, playing with his hair, talking with him about our love for him.  On Friday, Arthur and all the other kids at Children’s received stuffed bears from Hillary Clinton (and Toys R’ Us) in connection with her tour of the hospital.


      At 6 am Saturday morning, tests showed that the level of carbon dioxide in Arthur’s blood was a bit high, and shortly thereafter his heart rate began to decline, too quickly for medicines to maintain his blood pressure.  The doctors worked with him for over an hour to try to bring him back, but his heart wouldn’t respond at all, and they were unable to resuscitate him.


      At the time the doctors were working with Arthur, I was home expressing milk for him, looking at a picture my mother had sketched, showing his profile outlined with blue.  As I looked, I noticed that the blue seemed like a light shining down on him, as if to beckon him home.  Five minutes later we received the phone call that he was failing fast and we needed to come immediately.


      We held him after his passing, and felt as if he lingered near for that time.  We could envision him romping back to the Lord, joining with his cousin, Richard, and the other departed innocents, saying “Been there, done that.”  We laughed at the possibility that they had played one-upmanship one with another (“Well, _I_ got treated like a dignitary, flown by private Air Force jet from Turkey to Washington, D.C.  “Well, _I_ was given a bear by the First Lady; nanny nanny boo boo”).


      We will be having visiting at the Money and King Funeral Home (171 W Maple) in Vienna, Virginia, on Tuesday night from 7 to 9 pm, with the memorial service at the Annandale Stake Center (3900 Howard Street, Annandale, VA) on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m.  Arthur will be buried in the Babyland garden of the National Memorial Park in Falls Church, Virginia, within a few paces of his Aunt Katie.


      We are so grateful for Arthur’s life, that he was conceived and born, that he was able to live for a few days so that we could begin to know him better.  We are so glad we had warning, so that we could do everything possible to give him a chance at life.  I’m glad for the bio-physical profiles (three a week) where I was able to see him being healthy and strong, breathing and kicking (Oof).  I’m glad we knew he was a boy and were able to call him by name for the four months before his death, and to know how fragile his life was for the past two months.


      Thank you so much for your prayers and support.




Meg & Bryan Stout



            Again we received many messages of love and concern, and I would like to conclude by reading some of these to you.[8]



Date: Mon, 19 Dec 1994 09:36:51 –0500

Subject: Re: Arthur’s Passing


Meg & Bryan, David came right in to tell me the news about Arthur.  Please accept our sincerest sympathy in your loss.  We are grateful that you have been willing to share this experience and we are also grateful for the strength of your faith throughout all of this.  We know you are finding comfort in the thought of being reunited with your son through the power of Christ’s resurrection.


Our thoughts and prayers are with you and yours.


With love,

Lynn & David Anderson



Subject: Re: Arthur’s Passing

Date: Mon, 19 Dec 94 20:54:10 –0500


In message <> Meg Stout writes:

>Dear family and friends,


>     Our son, William Arthur Stout, passed away >quietly Saturday morning.



I got your message this morning, but waited until now to reply, figuring that by now I would have thought of the perfect things to say.


It didn’t work.


I keep thinking of all the things people later recall as being unintentionally hurtful, and can’t believe they come to mind as appropriate.


So I’ll just let you know I’m thinking about you in this difficult time, grieving for your loss, rejoicing in your faith that Arthur will be yours once again someday.





Date: Mon, 19 Dec 1994 23:44:46 –700 (MST)

Subject: Re: Arthur’s Passing (fwd)


Hi Meg.  It was as if by an act of God I happened to lurk over a co-workers shoulder to see him flip screen to cover up his reading E-mail during work.


I asked what he was reading and it was about Arthur.


I’m sorry I did not know sooner,[9] I could have done nothing, but feel for you as I do now.  But do know that I care, and even though we have not always seen eye to eye in our previous discussion, Know that I care for both of you in your time of sorrow.




Perry & Renee Porter



Date: Tue, 20 Dec 1994 10:14:07 –0800

Subject: Re: Thanks


Dear Meg and Brian


Monday morning when I got a break at work, I went through my e-mail and saw your post about the passing of Arthur last Saturday.  It was the first time I have ever cried at work.  Nobody came by my office, but I was wondering how I would explain tears in my eyes from something I read on my computer screen.  Your family is in our prayers.  When I pray for the Stout family, my younger daughter asks if that is a new family in the ward, then one of the older girls will say “No, that’s one of Dad’s computer friends.”


Love, Danny



Finally, Robert Christensen wrote to us three months after Arthur’s death.



Date: Thu, 16 Mar 1995 13:19:00 –0800 (PST)

Subject: Re: Arthur’s Passing


I keep your announcement of Arthur’s passing in the memory of the file.  I stumble across it from time to time and it reminds me of the passing nature of so much of life, and also of its glory.  His coming was a joy and his passing full of grief, but somehow I hope the joy of just those two weeks is beginning to overwhelm the grief.

Your announcement reminds me of bigger things, and maybe that was one of the reasons for Arthur’s coming and leaving.

Anyway, I hope you are well, and thank you for sharing both the joy and the grief.

Best wishes…

Robert J. Christensen



[1]               Selected e-mails relating to Arthur Stout dated 24 Oct 1994 through 17 Mar 1995, p. 13.

[2]               ibid., p. 9.

[3]               I later learned that the dose of digoxin they put me on to stabilize Arthur’s heart rate would be lethal in a normal person.  Apparently pregnant people aren’t normal.

[4]               Selected e-mails, p. 29.

[5]               ibid., p. 21.

[6]               Arthur’s heart stopped during the surgery and he came very close to dying at that point.  The doctors were successfully able to revive him and he survived the actual surgical procedure.

[7]               In other words, God promises to put an end to any unrighteous attempt.

[8]               I had never ‘met’ any of these people previously.  The one prior acquaintance of my husband in this group lived on the other side of the country at the time.

[9]               Perry had left the mormon-l list at this time, but we had previously enjoyed vigorous debates.