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April 17, 1998

As I sit here reflecting on life, our mid-April snowstorm, and Easter Sunday, I can't help but think about my dad. He died on April 17th, 1998, after a mid-April snowstorm. Before his death, he worked so hard to keep the cows and calves alive and fed through the calving season. My dad was not afraid of a long hard day of work; he took pride in his strength and work ethic; there was certainly nothing lazy about him.

The last time I ever saw my dad was on Easter Sunday; he came into the house to eat dinner with us, holding a bouquet of crocus flowers he hand-picked out in the pasture. I remember him looking so exhausted, but I admired how he still took the time to do something kind for my mother.

Four days later, my dad was gone, killed in a tractor accident. My dad's traumatic death changed everything within me. Our lives, family, and ranch changed forever.

My dad had one of the largest funerals Glendive, Montana has ever seen. The size of his funeral didn't accidentally happen; it was because my dad was a man of great integrity. He was a best friend to many; his laughter and jokes lit up a room. My dad impacted so many people's lives around him because of his charisma and how he made people feel. I quickly learned that you can't take anything with you when you die, but what you leave behind in the memories can be beautiful.

My dad did not care about his possessions, the materialistic things in life; he cared about his relationships with people. He could make people feel loved, heard, and important; without even trying. He was naturally gifted with greatness when it came to people.

I recently saw a quote saying, be the friend that prays for people behind their back; it reminded me of my dad!

I want to be this person.

As I began crawling out of the depths of grief after my dad's death, I became stronger as a person. I realized that I needed to live a life of purpose. I wanted to make a difference in this world in which I exist. The day I die, I want to look back on my life and smile because I made a difference.

At the age of twenty-three, my dad's death taught me...

Tomorrow is not a guarantee for anybody.
Death can break you if you let it.
Dream big and follow your passion.
Find happiness.
Work hard and be proud of what you accomplish
Have fun and enjoy the moments in life.
Death is a teacher.
People will remember how you made them feel.

Now twenty-four years later, what I learned from Justice's death...

A soul never dies; their energy surrounds us.
Slow down and feel the emotions instead of running from them.
Work smarter, not harder.
It's okay to take time for myself.
Avoid people who have negative vibes.
Trust my intuition.
Make my home a place of happiness and tranquility.
Love people for who they are and have compassion and understanding for their differences, but if they don't have a good heart...run!!!
Not everybody will like me, and that is okay.
I will never be perfect.
It's okay to cry in public.



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