On Friday September 14 at 3:01 I received a 27 second phone call that would change my life. I was in Salt Lake City at a convention. I was away from my friends in a brake out session. I happened to be holding my phone when I saw that Josh was calling. I firmly believe in not answering phone calls in meetings but something within me told me that Josh would not be calling unless it was important so I quietly answered “I’m in a meeting, talk to me.” He told me that my dad had been in a very serous accident and that I might need to come home. Due to the shakiness in his voice and the fact that he said I “might need to come home.” I asked if my dad was dying and he replied "I think so." In shock and horror I stepped out of the meeting room.
In the hall I tried to call Josh again and he didn’t answer. I tried to call Connie and she didn’t answer. Mom, Connie, Cody and Stephanie were all at the movie with my kids so they know nothing of the accident yet. Not knowing where they were or that they didn’t know anything I sent Connie a text message that read, “Josh said dad has been in a terrible accident. I need to talk to someone.” She and mom left the theater and called me. I didn’t know much. I just told them to get to Preston.
I was trying to behave rationally when I talked to Josh the second time so I told him that I would just wait in Salt Lake for life flight. In that second 30 second phone call at about 3:07 he told me that dad had died. Moments after hanging up with him a very nice couple stopped in the hall of the conference center seeing that I was in distress. They let me sob on their shoulders for a few minutes and sat me down with some water. They put some balance essential oil on the back of my neck, which had an amazing calming effect. A few minutes after I found out that dad was dead Connie and mom called back. They were on the road and screaming at me. They wanted to know why I was crying and what was going on. They were SCREAMING. I didn’t know what to say. Josh had been instructed to not tell us so that we could get to Preston safely and I was given those same instructions. I told them I would call Josh and try to get some more information and that they could call the neighbor Pennie who was the one who had called Josh. I needed time to think.
In the mean time I had texted my friend Lisa to come out of her class and she was now with me along with the kind couple. I turned to them for council. They asked what I thought I should do. I was grateful Josh had told me so I decided to tell Connie and mom. Since all I knew at that point is that he had died in a horse accident our conversation was once again very short. I basically just said, he’s dead, and Connie started sobbing and mom was screaming that he wasn’t dead and that she was going to find him along with other comments of anger and denial.
I felt as calm as I could be so I decided it would be safe for Johnny and I to drive home. While I was driving I learned that my mom had left her cell phone at home so half of Preston was looking for her. Her neighbor Pennie had googled my name and found Josh’s cell phone number. In his very first conversation with Pennie he directly asked her if dad was still alive so he know from the start but was trying to play it cool so everyone could get home safely. He went directly to the movie (guessing on which one they were at) to be with the kids and sent mom and Connie home. He didn’t want to panic everyone so he sent Cody and Steph a short time later. When the fact that he was dead was confirmed they called Cathie. Due to hunting season she couldn’t get a single seat on any flight to the lower 48 until Sunday night.
As I drove I received confirmation that it was true. Initially we thought maybe it was a heart attack or something because there was no obvious external evidence of the accident. I was in shock as I told a few of my friends and drove directly to Providence to tell my kids.
The kids were sad, Cara had a lot of questions, but I don’t think they were capable of understanding the significance of what had just happened. I grabbed a few things while I was home and headed to my parents house to morn and plan with my mom and siblings.