Our trip to Montana was for somber reasons, yet it was some of the best family time. While Conor's grandfather's passing was not a surprise, it was still a deeply emotional time. Conor & he had quite an incredible bond. I too had grown quite fond of him on our many huckleberry adventures as well as through our long chats over a glass of red wine (which of course had to wait until after 4 o'clock). This has been the first big family loss that Conor & I have had since being married, and it was important to us both that the boys & I were there to support Conor as well as the whole Keenan family.
We were able to spend an entire week with family. Remembering. Laughing. Crying. Saying goodbye. We had plenty of uninterrupted family time that made the trip so special. Seeing our boys with their cousins, aunts/uncles, and grandparents is always such a joy. Conor's sister Sara is so so helpful with Liam & Finn. Liam in particular just adores her. She was on the ground building legos, playing cars, & even put him down for a nap one day (which is just completely unheard of)! And even though Finn is all sorts of "stranger danger" right now, he would let her and his uncle Ryan show him all the animal heads on the wall of the family restaurant over and over (and over...) again. Deer! Elk! Bear! Pheasant! Fish!
We enjoyed gorgeous sunsets, a ridiculous amount of deer, & bottle after bottle of red wine. I wasn't sure how much of the adult conversations Liam would pick up on, or how far we would need to dive into the death conversations with him. He didn't ask much until the day of the funeral, and even then his questions were few, and he was satisfied with simple answers. The cemetery was located in a beautiful part of Bigfork with the most gorgeous view of the mountains. True Big Sky country! Sure there was plenty of sadness in the air; but with all the great grandchildren running down hills, chasing one another, and giggling like crazy, it was a fitting setting to see Conor's grandpa's legacy live on while saying that final farewell. I loved how the presence of children brought the whole experience full circle and even a few needed smiles snuck between tears to those watching.
It was hard to leave, especially knowing how things will feel just a bit different the next time we return. But Montana sure is an incredible place to visit, and we can never stay away from family for too long. Not to mention that I simply could not get enough of the amazing scenery and photo opportunities! When we are back, it will be party boating weather on Flathead Lake, and we cannot wait!