Time reminds us.


Rosalee Gene came into this world quickly on Friday, December 1st at 9:14 am. Before she was born she didn’t have a name. We hadn’t found one that we were set on, should the baby we were growing be a girl. We decided we needed to meet her first.

And when I met her I knew. I looked up at my husband looking down at the squishy, wailing, slimy, dark haired little human resting on my chest and he said he knew too.


“You say it first,” he said.

“Rosalee,” I said.

“Yes. Rosalee.”


And so we have our little Rosie Gene. Gene named after my dad who has, for over a month, been in a fight for his life, battling a pancreas that is dying on him.

It’s been excruciating, this wait and see. The long hospital stay. The ICU, the terminology, the air flight to Minneapolis, hearing my mom’s tired voice on the other end of the line. Our hearts stopping at every ding of our phones.

As I type my dad’s in critical condition in the ICU in a hospital in Minneapolis known for their expertise in pancreatitis. He is intubated. He can’t talk. They are making plans to remove the fluid that builds up as a result of the inflamed pancreas, a dangerous condition stemming from a dangerous condition and the whole healing process is a Catch 22.

And we can’t be there with them. Because we have to be here. Taking care of our daughters and the ranch and each other waiting on news.

To be so simultaneously happy and terrified is exhausting and overwhelming, but we’re taking it day by day, minute by minute, praying and hoping and dreaming of an outcome that brings dad home to the ranch to meet Rosie Gene. We have so many people, a whole army of community members doing the same thing and we are grateful. And I am so grateful for this family of ours.

I wrote the piece below as I was waiting in Bismarck for Rosie to arrive. Since then dad has taken a turn for the worse and we have had a week at home with our new baby girl. Today is my husband’s first day back at work and my first day home with both of them. We cut our Christmas tree last night off the place, determined to keep in the tradition and spirit of the holiday because that’s what my parents want and that’s what we need to do for these kids of ours, and really, in times like these, what choice do we have but to chin up and be strong.

Christmas Tree

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers and casseroles and cards and texts and phone calls and emails and love. They mean so much to us.

Coming Home: Time is a reminder to love one another
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By the time you read this we will be a family of four.

I’m writing this from a borrowed laptop in the basement of my best friend’s house in Bismarck, waiting on a baby who has shown us that it’s not safe to drive the three hours home, because we might not make it back in time to deliver.

It’s fitting really for this to be the sort of in-limbo news I’m sharing considering the tough and unpredictable month we’ve had as a family.

Since October turned to November, my dad has been fighting for his life as his pancreas does the hard work it needs to do to heal itself. After my dad was rushed back to the big town for another week in the hospital, the Friday after Thanksgiving, my mom called in the family to see him off on a plane ride to seek the help of the experts in Minneapolis.

We left Edie in good hands with my in-laws and found ourselves surrounded by close family and skyscrapers in the big city, not knowing if our dad would come out of this, reminded, once again, what living minute by minute can feel like.

It’s excruciating.

And as we sat with him in the ICU, we slowly sunk into a world so far from the buttes, golden grass and the peaceful calm of the ranch we kept telling my dad to visualize that we barely remembered it existed ourselves, the foreign sound of the monitor beeps and the taste of lukewarm coffee from a Styrofoam cup becoming our new normal.

How many times can you ask a person how he’s feeling before sending you all off the rails?

If we really wanted to know we could ask the people in the room next door who’ve been there longer or are fighting harder, the ones we walked by in the hallway in a weeping embrace, saying they did all they could for her.

And then we can say a prayer of thanks because, for now, we are the lucky ones.

We are the lucky ones who still have some hope here.

My husband and I left my dad with my mom and good doctors to heal slowly in a hospital bed in one of those skyscrapers that lights up the city skyline at night, each twinkle in the rearview mirror reminding me of the millions of stories beginning and ending under the light of the moon, living room lamps, restaurant candles or the fluorescent hum of the hospital lights we’ve come to know too well.

Any day now those lights will be the first thing our new baby sees as he or she takes that first breath in this world. And I will never forget the way it felt to try to hold life in my womb so tight these past few days, terrified to bring a new soul into a world that suddenly felt so unfamiliar to us all.

But time, you see, we don’t own it here, no matter the grip we thought we had on it all.

I think, at the end of the day, the only thing we really have to hold on to is our capacity to love one another, which is even more amazing when you realize you just get more of it when you give it away.

Time is just a reminder that you don’t have forever to do it.

25 thoughts on “Time reminds us.

  1. Jessie, first, congratulations! I love more than words can explain so much your surprise in life that you are now a mom to two beautiful, healthy daughters! Oh the joys they will bring you. Our girls are 18 months apart and the first four years were blurry but full! Enjoy it all, even in the heartache and struggles. Second, I’ve been praying for your dad and your family. Will keep praying. Much love from McIntosh County.

  2. We lost my mom in May to pancreatic cancer. She battled for a year and a half. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family hoping for your dad’s recovery.

  3. Jessie you and your entire family are kept in so many of our continual prayers and thoughts. Your girls are beautiful. They were born into such a wonderful family.

  4. Congratulations to your family on your new little one! I love her name and the meaning it holds. And also please know that prayers are being and will continue to be sent heavenward from a farm just west of Grand Forks for your dad, and your mom, and for all of you.

  5. Congratulations on the birth of your new beautiful baby girl, also we see a very proud older sister who looks like she is ready to help you. Please know our prayers are with you and your family throughout the journey with your Dads health. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

  6. Its obviously a time for miracles great and small! Im sure your Dad beamed with pride over the addition of much awaited Rosie Gene and your name choice…… Keep the faith and know your Mom and Dad are well aware of the loving family theyve created and whats in your collective hearts!!! Prayers for peace and strength for you all and hospital staff are coming in abundance:-).

  7. Sending you & your husband thanks for bringing a beautiful baby girl into this wonderful world! And to Gene… blessings and thanks for raising his own beautiful baby girl! God bless his journey of recovery… that he makes his way back to the land he loves and the people who love him!

  8. Congratulations Jessie and Family on your precious Rosie! I love reading your thoughts … we are so lucky to receive via the internet. You are very gifted and we are the recipients of this precious gift. So with gratitude may you know how much you’re appreciated… and again may you have many blessings with this sweet child…

  9. Thank you so much for sharing during this very busy sad/happy time of your life. Your new baby girl, your little family is beautiful! (Tell Edie I love her beautiful fingernails.) I too, am praying for your father. I am so happy you have wonderful friends and family around you. Have faith.

  10. I am praying for Gene. To me he defines integrity and I am so sorry he has to deal with this condition. We need more leaders like him in this world. Also, congratulations on the arrival of Rosalee Gene . . . special times.

  11. This is beautiful, moving and heart-wrenching. Congratulations on little Rosie – her and Edie are adorable!! Sending prayers your way for your dad and all of you.

  12. Congrats on little Rosie and what a beautiful name! I love the pictures.
    Many prayers to your family as you guys find your way through this wonderful yet trying time in your lives.

  13. Bless you and your precious family. Your beautiful words give courage and blessings to so many. Keep on amazing us through your sharing.

  14. Oh man, to have the highs of the birth of your perfect little girl during the lows of the your Dad’s precarious condition, and now to be post-partum too? I feel for you, and send prayers for comfort and peace, joy and love. I hope your Dad gets to meet lil Miss Rosie Gene.


  15. So sorry to hear about your dad. We just lost my mom and it is a terrible time. I knew your dad in Grand Forks at UND. He is a great person. He was singing then and won a talent contest beating out my then boyfriend for first place. Take care of yourself and your family. Thank you for articles.

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