Celebrating freedom and always in our hearts…

We’ve been in North Dakota for over a week now. We are staying at a nice, quiet RV park in Dickinson. There was so much to see and do in South Dakota. Here, in North Dakota, we have rested more. We’ve hung around the RV park, gone on walks, reorganized and gotten lots of laundry and chores done.

On July 4th, we went to a parade in downtown Dickinson. We happened to walk right by this mural, which made for the perfect July 4th photo.

Our kids enjoyed watching the parade and collecting candy.

We ate tacos and festive cookies that afternoon. We discovered QDOBA in South Dakota, and we have picked up family taco meals a few times since. It’s similar to Chipotle, our favorite, and there are no Chipotles up here.

That evening of July 4th we watched one of the best firework shows we’ve ever seen. For about 25 minutes it looked like the grand finale.

It was a great way to end our day of celebrating freedom.

On Tuesday afternoon, I went to get my hair cut and colored. At some point, I text Ryan to check in to see how he and our kids were doing. I was shocked by his response.

He let me know that they’d just had a traumatic experience. Our three oldest girls were laying in the loft looking out the window. They were watching a man create a new RV space beside us. He was smoothing out dirt with a tractor. Then he got off the tractor, began raking and fell over. Tapestry immediately told Ryan that a man had fallen and it looked bad. Ryan ran outside right away, called 911 and began CPR on this man who had no pulse. The cops arrived and took over doing CPR. The ambulance arrived and loaded the man, who still had no pulse.

On my way home from getting my hair done, I stopped by the RV park office to check on the man. I was told they did get his pulse back and that he was being life-flighted. I found out his name was Gary.

Ryan and our kids were so relieved to hear that Gary was alive. We all prayed he would make it and have a full recovery. We found out the next morning that he’d passed away around 5AM, though. We were so, so sad for his wife Patsy, his three adult kids and his grandkids.

We did get to meet and spend some time with Patsy and their kids. We couldn’t stand the circumstances, but we really enjoyed talking with them. Most of our kids made cards for Patsy and took turns giving her cards and hugs. The sweetest thing – Bravely walked over to Patsy and said, “I want a hug, I want kisses.” There’s nothing quite like a 2-year-old to add a smile in the midst of deep sadness.

Yesterday evening we said our goodbyes to Patsy and to Gary’s kids. Patsy gave little gifts to each of our kids. She gave our girls these heart chimes – a reminder of Gary, Patsy and their family, who will always remain in our minds and in our hearts.

Life is fragile, unpredictable and, at times, heart shattering. I’m thankful for hope, light in the darkness and joy that eventually does come again.

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