I remember when

September was National Suicide Awareness month and October is Emotional Awareness Month, and I’ve heard and seen ads and videos for checking up on your friends and family. Farmers and ranchers especially during these trying times.

Growing up in the 80s and 90s we had our fair share of hardships. Farm life was tough then. Tragedy had its way of sneaking into our lives back then and even more so now. It’s hard to be in agriculture right now with the drought stress to crops, astronomical input prices and inflation. It made me reminisce about my short time on this earth and how we’ve all adapted and changed.

I remember when Dad picked us up from school one day in February 1988. Dad never picked us up. We always had instructions to ride the bus home. First thing I noticed when I got in the vehicle was my Grandpa Roy’s glasses on the console. Next thing I knew we were being told our grandparents had been killed in a horrific car accident that morning. I’d never seen my parent’s cry until that time. I remember thinking my world was ending.

I remember when there was a time of terrible strife within the family. My parents were constantly stressed out and fighting. Dad spent nearly all of his time out in the field working. Mom took a job in town and you better believe it was a hard adjustment for everyone in our family to not have the glue that held everything together working in town and not available for our every beck and call. I remember thinking our world would never be the same.

I remember when it was Christmas Eve and we were headed to church and my sister and I found out a wonderful surprise a tick too early. The surprise was still sweet and turned into a lot of years of involvement in horses and livestock. I remember when my life was consumed with horses and hardly anything else.

I remember when we managed to talk our parents into joining 4H and attending our first meeting of the Prairie Schooners club. I remember feeling like we didn’t know anyone except our cousins and not knowing a single thing about showing or what to do. That all changed the harder we worked and the more events we attended. Even though we didn’t have the highest dollar horses or the best livestock we still won our fair share more than once. And the lessons we gathered from that time are still some I look back so fondly upon. I remember thinking how hard it would be when it was over.

I remember when I walked across the stage with my bachelors degree and knowing what my next step was going to be. I remember when Dad helped me cart all my crap up a flight of stairs to my very first big girl apartment. It took a whole year for me to be comfortable living by myself and getting to know a town that became my home. It didn’t take very long to leave that home when my next job started. I remember being excited for something new and familiar at the same time.

I remember when days turned into weeks, and weeks into months, and months into years working at the same place for a decade and then even more years writing, photographing, editing and designing for the Journal. I remember thinking that first week was so hard, but it must be fun as all these years have flown by.

I remember when—the first week of March in 2017 was so stinking hard. Fire, death and hopelessness. Strangers turned into friends during that time and the bank took a chance on us when our own family wouldn’t. I remember thinking how hard life was and why it had to be the way it was.

Looking back at all those times, I can see where it was hard and there was a time or 12 where I wanted nothing but to wallow in my self-pity and stay there. Recently I saw a photo of several jars with balls in them. It described grief and how the size of your grief never changes, but how you grow from the grief changes the jars. That’s so true. At least for me.

So if you’re struggling right now, as so many are, reach out to someone you trust. Whether it be your pastor, your friend, a counselor, or a therapist, talk some of the hard stuff out and find a way to make it all work. But remember, it’s ok to not be ok.