I remember exactly where I was when I received the awful news that Alex had died. As a home health nurse, I was in a patient’s home making a visit: My cell phone rang and it was my daughter calling. Concerned that it might be an emergency, I excused myself and went outside. My daughter asked if I had seen the Facebook post about Alex dying. I quickly read it, was shocked, and told my daughter that I’d call her back when I was finished with my visit. I did so in a state of disbelief.
I had been so excited when, in August 1990, I received a call from Dave, Alexandra’s father, letting me know that his wife Roz had given birth via C-section to a baby girl. She was over two months premature, but as Roz had developed problems, surgery had been necessary. Alex was tiny but it appeared that she’d survive.
I’ve known the Rowans since 1976 and knew all that they’d gone through to have a child; multiple tests, surgery, medications, and finally, a successful IVF course after prior failed attempts. I was overjoyed and honored to be named Godmother to Alex. I followed her life closely through her years of private school where she did well, pursuing extra activities. She didn’t date, but was a happy teenager. Her parents exposed her to many cultural events and she became a very mature lady.
I led mission trips to Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota and Alex was a team member on several occasions. She helped raise funds for these trips at her church. On the Reservation she worked hard, helping with bible school, working on fundraisers for the locals, and helping with projects such as the renovation of an old church. She made poignant observations during her time there, and wished she could do more to help.
Montana and Yellowstone Park were favorite places for Alex to visit. She loved the wolves at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone. She even ‘adopted’ a wolf to support the Center, and this love of wolves made it easy for me when birthdays or Christmas rolled around. Whenever her family and mine got together, lively games were in order, all of us enjoying it very much.
After Alex died I asked if I could scatter some of her ashes on Rosebud, and Dave also asked for some to be spread in Montana. I took them to the Reservation’s cemetery and scattered them over the grave of someone she knew who’d died, while an Indian friend said a prayer. I took some into Yellowstone Park and scattered them around favorite places. I also took some to the Wolf and Grizzly center and unobtrusively scattered ashes near the wolves’ enclosure. I buried more ashes near my condominium in Big Sky. Alex’s favorite color was purple, and a few days after burying her ashes, two small purple flowers bloomed above them.
I miss Alex and treasure my memories of the 23 years she blessed my life. Her pictures are displayed around my home; I especially like the one with Patrick, her dog. Even now, I still ask why, why only 23 years?