Copyright 2001

The Haydal Family
Miles City, Montana

Perhaps God is a poet
who writes with words
of flesh and bone
and leaf and flower.

Every hour of every day,
words pour out of the poet's heart,
and every word is beautiful
and true and worth the telling.

And when each
poem is perfect,
and there is no more
which ought to be said,
the poet gently takes the words
back into his heart,
where they are safe forever...

And then begins again.

May these beautiful words
bring you comfort and peace.

     On November 4, 2000, our 18-year-old daughter, Cassie, suffered a major heart attack from use of methamphetamines. She lay in a vegetative coma for 10 days. She died on November 14th.
     Because drug use is sometimes hard to identify, we learned of Cassie's painful addiction in the emergency room, when it was to late to help her. The grief of knowing a child has an addiction is unbearable, but the senseless death of a child due to drug use is incomprehensible. It forced us as individuals, as a family and as a community to take inventory. The process took courage.
     Her smile and beauty brought light to all who knew her. She was smart, warm, kind, loving, talented and sincere. She was a coach, a volunteer at the after school program, a sports writer for the newspaper, a poet, a traveler, a lover of art, a studier of the Bible, a Christian and one of the most charismatic and nurturing individuals we will ever have the opportunity to meet. She never judged. She never hated. She always embraced those around her. And now, in death, she is a teacher.
     It is the letters, poems and stories in this book that made us realise we were not alone in our grief. As a community, we were all broken and fragmented over Cassie's death. The loss of one individual so dramatically changes the lives of all those around her...forever.
     We found ourselves drawn to Cassie's grave, where we found meaningful responces to her death. Sometimes we would find beautiful thoughts scribbled on pieces of paper, being destroyed by weather.

     We gather the prose to our chest, close to our hearts and took them home to protect them.
     All of the writings taught us to open our hearts to loving and living again. We have come to understand, through these messages, that it is impossible to love and live without being vulnerable to pain.
     We understand now that good people have addictions. We fully comprehend that if we continue to stereotype drug use, we will continue to lose those who would have and did make the world a better place in which to live. The answer lies in prevention, education and affordable treatment. The proceeds from this book will go toward treatment for people who are dependent on alcohol and other drugs.
     This book is dedicated to Nicki, Cassie's sister, who had perhaps, the greatest loss of anyone. She lost her mentor, coach, sister and best friend. She taught us as a family to love and forgive. She taught us that each person offers something valuable and must be treated with respect.
     To Cassie's loving friends who have become our family: They have won our respect, because they spoke in thuth. They had the courage to look inside and make changes. They had the capacity to reach within themselves and choose life - a good life, full of meaning and richness.
     It is because of these tender individuals that we have chosen to lay our anger and grief at the feet of Jesus. We learned more about life than we ever had, at the grave.
     We will always believe that beauty, truth and the meaning of life are held within the fragileness of children. They make life worth living, wisdom evident and love available without judgment.

We pray each day to be more like them
Cassie's Family

Poems For Cassie Haydal (c)

To My Daughter Cassie

A rare orchid sprung amongst a field of wild roses.
It was a flower so soft and beautiful,
it gave peace and happiness
to all who encountered it.
Its special fragrance filled my soul.

I centered my life according to the flower's nrrd.
I prayed for the sun and rain to nurture it,
so the flower would have all it needed
in order to grow, and it became lovely and tall.
Its soft petals gently touched all who encountered it.

An unsuspecting storm came
and weathered the orchid.
It began to wither.
Its lovely colors faded.
The other flowers reached out
to the orchid to protect it.

They were afraid to.
They began to pray,
but the lovely orchid bent
to the ground in deep slumber.
A gentle faithful carrier from Heaven,
bent in tears and cupped His mighty hand
around the softened soil
and pulled the orchid to Him.

He lay the rare orchid at the feet of Jesus.
Jesus touched it tenderly
and the flower sprang to new life.
Fragrance honors God
and fills His kingdom everywhere.
Its translucent colors are part of Heaven's light.
The special flower shines for the loving Father
who will keep it safe in His care
until I reach Heaven and see it once again.

Love Mom (c) 2000


Today is the exact day you went into the hospital.
I remember that day like it was yesterday.
We had fun that morning!
Went to basketball, ran our butts off,
came home, joked around.

And the next thing I knew I lost you,
we all lost you,
our best friend,
my sister,
But now our angel.

I love you so much
and miss you.


- November 4, 2001 -

Remember Your Soul

Remember the horrendous clouds
Of God's divine hands?
Do you remember the beaming sun
Thrown against our backs?
The wind swept us on toes
And the sunset kept us in awe.
So who am I to speak to, now
That you are helping make these things?
Are you God's raindrop maker
Or are you the one who makes
The perfect flakes of snow?
Are you the one who slims the icicles
Or are you the angel who
Comes to touch my soul?
Do you weep in my sin
Or is it my tears that you brush away?
I need your guidance, courage and stability.
I need your sweet smiling lips
And golden radiant eyes
To walk me along my path of life.
This road of life that I have lived,
It curves so gently and swiftly.
Now I feel as if I've fallen off
Into a dark epitome of empty.
I'm so cold, deviously burned.
How can I see the light
When I feel as if my candle
Has been blown out?
And how am I to feel whole
Without your encouraging words?
Or have I already dropped low
When I have forgotten
I must now listen to you
Through my soul?

By Marissa Anderson (c) 2001

The Last Time

If I knew it would be the last time
That I'd see you fall asleep,
I would tuck you in more tightly
And pray the Lord your soul to keep.

If I knew it would be the last time
That I'd see you walk out the door,
I would hug you and kiss you
and call you back for one more.
If I knew it would be the last time
I heard your name lifted up in praise,
I would video tape each action and word,
so I could play it back for days.

If I knew it would be the last time
To spare an extra minute or two,
I'd stop and say "I love you",
Instead of assuming that you know I do.

If I knew it would be the last time
I would be there to share your day
(Well, I'm sure you'll have many more,
So, I'll let this one slip away).

For surely there is tomorrow
to make up for an oversight,
and we'll always get a second chance
to make everything all right.

There will be another chance
To say our "I love you's", and certainly there's another chance
to say our "Anything I can do's?".

But just in case I might be wrong,
and today is all I get,
I'd like to say how much
I love you and hope we never forget.

Tomorrow is not promised to anyone,
young or old alike,
and today might be your last chance
to hold your loved one tight.

So if your waiting for tomorrow,
Why not do it all today?

For if tomorrow never comes,
You will surely regret the day,
that you didn't take the extra time
for a smile or hug or kiss.
(And your surely much to busy
to grant someone what turned out to be
their last wish).

So hold your loved ones close today
and whisper in their ear.
Tell them how much you love them
And that you'll always hold them dear.

Take the time to say,
"I'm sorry", "Please forgive me",
"Thank you", or "It's OK".

And if tomorrow never comes,
you'll have no regrets about today.
Apologize and start anew
and tell the ones who love you,
that you love them, too!

Contributed by Cara Chalburg, Author Unknown (c) 2000

An Angel's Sonnet

Comfort surrounds the darkness in my mind
When I close my eyes, I see a picture
I'm there, she's there, and her smile... it's so kind
I try to move, but I just can't reach her.
When I awaken, I'm cold in my own sweat
I can't fall back asleep... just wasting hours
My evening thoughts, an intricate roulette
But nighttime at least, will always be ours.
We'll meet forever, when the starlight shines
No words spoken, all the answers in eyes
Lonely to know our secrets all mine
Each dream turns cold, she fades with the sunrise.
I feel her with me, all hours of the day,
And await night's bittersweet serenade.

By Shelly Hirsch (c) 2000

Remembered Forever

On this cold November day,
I remember her in a special way
Never forgetting her is my vow...
Knowing she'll forever be with me somehow.
This will be an easy vow to keep,
Because my love for her is so deep.
And although her soul has reached the sky,
In my heart she'll never die.

By Shelly Hirsch (c) 2000

My Smile Left And Returned With You

Can you spare a smile?
Mine has suddenly washed away.
I can't seem to find it anywhere...
Though I've looked for it night and day.
I think my friend took it with her
to her magnificent new home in the sky.
I caught a glimpse of her grin
as I was saddly passing by...
I know it must upset her that
she accidently took mine on her trip.
But wait, I see something falling
from the sky and with a bounce and a flip.
It has floated straight into my hands
as I nervously open them wide,
And a smile comes over my face
with care, comfort and pride.
My friend must have dropped it as
she skipped the clouds one by one.
I know she must be happy because
A rainbow just emerged from the sun.
So you can keep your smile,
but remind others to share theirs with love.
If you happen to lose it one day,
Cassie will send you one from above.

By Shelly Hirsch (c) 2000


Angel of grace
Angel of light
I miss you so much
you were my delight.
You made me feel whole
When I felt alone.
I'm so scared now, girl.
What's become of me?
Without you I thought
my world would end.
I still can see your bright face, a smile
that sparks louder than words.
Here me now, for my time will come soon.
I'll see you, again and I love you!
Love ya Cassie

By Sarah Kaufman (c) 2001

I Wonder

I wonder if, when Cassie was concieved, that God might have said,
I shall make a beautiful child for all to see,
I shall make her loved by her family, friends and all,
It shall be a girl with a wonderful smile, great eyes and a heart of gold,
I shall make her to be a good person, full of life, and full of energy,
I shall make her a caring person for all to be acquainted.
With this special child, I shall make an example for all children to see...
For them to see what their decisions will unfold.
That their decisions will effect their lives forever,
And all of God's children will begin to understand the effects
Of a life's lesson learned,
All because of a tragedy of a very young and beautiful girl.
I wonder... If it is all a part of God's plan.
With the grace of God, may He help us to understand.

Marilyn Schantz (c)

Cassie Turns Seventeen

I know it's seventeen years ago,
but seams like yesterday.
You first came into our lives
perfect in every way...

I'll never forget the autumn day
I was so terribly *!##!,
one shot you got your antelope
and you asked me why I missed!

Although my funds may be limited,
to me it matters not.
For God has made me wealthy,
with the daughter that I've got!

Dad (c)

Cassie Turns Eighteen

August 13, 1982, these words her mother spoke,
"Greg, get your butt out of that bed, my water has just broke!"
Hours later, we held a babe, beautiful and small.
Looking down at your sweet face, we thought you were a doll!
Ballet dances, doctor shots, basketball and braces.
Through chicken pox, stomach flu and lost love we shared embraces.
Sharing makeup, clothes and talk, lying on your bed,
Remembering "the sex talk" Dad leaving halfway through all red...
Yellowstone Park, The Black Hills, D.C., Dakota and France.
You're just starting there's much more. Life is just a dance.
Say, "you did", instead of "I wish I would have",let every option in.
Hug the past, embrace the future and let the dance begin!
A million tears, as many laughs echo as I remember.
If at times the world seams cold, take our love as your ember.

Dad & Mom (c) 2000

Thoughts Of A Year

They say that time will heal
And maybe wipe away the pain.
But each time I wake up,
I think of you again.
You taught me how
To love life and live,
With all that you had
And all you could give.
I never underestimated the power
Of your friendship and care,
But I feel I owe you an apology
Because this one thing I cannot bear.
There were so many ways
We could have helped you through,
But I sat in the shadows
And one thing I did not do.
I will always be sorry
For what was never said.
And I ask for forgiveness from above
Each time I lay my head.
But I will always remember
You and how you lived.
You always gave me that spark of hope
To lift me up when I was down.
The smile of a million words
that could never have the responce of a frown.
The hug with the love and care
Of the world wrapped all around.
The laugh that was heard by
Every ear even if you were down.
I will always hold you
Close to my heart
And the lessons and happiness
That you showed will never part.
But they say that time will heal
And maybe wipe away the pain.
But each time that I wake up
I think of you again.

Love always and miss you,
Jen (c)

Letters For Cassie (c)

To the Family of Cassie Haydal;
     I had to comprise a memoir for my English class. We were told to write on someone who was or is immporant in our lives or changed them in some way. Well, Cassie was both of these to me. It took me many nights to think just what exactly I wanted to say. How can you sum up a person in one paper? You can't; I found this out. So, I picked the most important aspects to look upon.
     I thought I would send you a copy of the final draft. Never forget how much she ment to people and the good things she accomplished as well. Thank you for bringing such a wonderful person into this world.


     Its like the snow slowly dripping off the roof on a warm April day,never knowing when it will fall to the ground. Like a leaf on a Maple tree in the windy afternoon of the new fall, holding on for dear life. Like the tide coming in and going out with a sudden wave that nobody excepted. Or is it like the sudden hourly ring of the church bell that everyone knows is coming, but still it takes them by suprise. Death, wheather it be a person young or old, good or bad. We could prepare ourselves for the worst yet never be ready for the actual thing. But when it comes by suprise and to a person you never expected in a million years, it only seems worse. So many emotions go through one's mind as they first feel sad, then angry at the one in question, next angry at God for doing such an evil thing, then sorrow, and finally guilt. Then come the questions. The "Why did this happen?" or "How could I have been so blind to not see this coming?" Then the death is eventually passed on, not forgotten, but not the main topic on one's mind.
     I have a hard time telling what stage I am in now. It is so confusing. My body wants to move on, but my mind can't forget the past, the memories, the three weeks we all shared together in France just months before Cassie's death took us all with no warning.
     There we were, often times walking down various unknown streets, whether they be in Paris or some small senic stop; Cassie was always a step or two ahead of the rest of us. She was always the first one to see something new, interesting, or in some cases funny and absolutely gross. I am referring to the homeless man who decided to take off his clothes and urirate in the park as we walked by. Whether he meant to do it at that given time or if the urge was just there, deep down inside we all felt sorry for him after we finished being grossed out then laughing. Cassie was always in a good mood. Her smile was simply something one could never forget if they ever saw it. It wasn't just her mouth that smiled, it was her whole face.
     I used to think red was a dark and depressing color. After I met Cassie that changed. She always wore red, I suppose it was her favorite color. Now the color red merely reflects Cassie to me. It is now a color of kindness and love, the color of welcoming and comfort. Red is warm. Red is comforting. Red is Cassie. She made me feel as though I was no different than the rest of the group. In fact, she urged us to do the same with those we didn't really know. She said to give everyone a chance until you truly know them. Don't base your decision on what you see or hear, but what you know. She could always find good qualities, even in people she didn't care for. One night, in a motel room we stayed in, she said, "I don't think I could ever hate somebody, even if they did something very bad. It would take a lot for me to hate a person." Before this, hate was a word that was just thrown out if I was angry; now it is never said.
     Another memory that seems to stick out in my mind is the art museums that we went to. Cassie had a special love for art. She saw life in paintings that nobody else saw. She had what I thought was the ability to see beyond the picture. Now I realize it wasn't a talent, it was merely a love and desire to see into the world of art. When I think of her life and her as a person, I see a painting with many hidden secrets that people didn't know about her, mainly the fact that she was just the kindest and most conciderate person that was around. It was almost like she made it a habit to make others feel good.
     Now I sit here with only memories and pictures to remember her by. Some days I think that is enough. Some days I wonder what else there could be. Some days I don't want to remember, but always do. And some days I never want to forget her. It turns out that that trip will always mean more to me then it did when I set out on it, or when I first returned from it. My friend and I always said we would go back to France if only with the same people, to have the same memories. Now I never want to. It would never be the same. I feel now that this is a memory best left for pictures, thoughts and stories, not a memory that should be replicated.
     We will never know the reason why she left out lives. That doesn't seem to even be the point anymore. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of her. The one quote of Cassie's that will always stick out in my mind,ironically, happens to be, "We should start taking pictures of people, not just things. Things will always be here, it's the people that won't." Usually this was followed by, "So get up there on that statue, and give me your camera." This is possibly the best lesson in not taking things for granted, especially people and there lives.

     BY Athena King 2001 (c)

Dear Cassie

I know this is how you lived - We miss you....

Look for the good in everyone and everything...and find it.
Let family and friends know they really matter.
Share smiles and laughter...hugs.
Always take time to care.
Admit His doubts and fears.
Ask for help when He needed it.
Judge less, praise more.
Speak the truth kindly.
Forgive mistakes.
Give second chances.
Notice the smallest of miracles.
Rock little babies and play with the children.
See the wisdom in wrinkled faces.
Hear all the feelings that go unsaid.
Keep every promise.
Wipe away every tear.

Thinking of you and hoping you know how much you matter.

Be full of love for others, following the example of Christ...Ephesians 5:2

Dawn Dee (c) 2000

Dear Cassie
     Hey, how is it going? I hope it is going good. It’s not too bad here, except that you aren’t here. School is * @ #** @ ! @ as usual, especially for me. I am grounded for the first time since like third grade. I am flunking (CCDHS) honors gov class. I wish I wouldn’t have taken it now. Oh, well. I am typing this because I hate writing so much from school. The only class I look forward to is wood shop, but I have it three hours every day, so it helps.
     I sure do miss you. In fact, I miss you a lot. I catch myself thinking that you are just out of town, ‘cause I don’t want to admit that you are gone. Man, I can’t even say you are dead - it freaks me out. Well, anyway. When I put the last letter to you I used a pen to stick it in the ground, now I see that others are doing it. I think it is funny ‘cause I did that so it wouldn’t blow away, and that is the only thing I had. Pretty soon I’ll go to college; I can’t wait for that. I am going to have so much fun, I know it. Especially the winters like skiing, and snowmobiling. Oh yeah, I went skiing yesterday and I remembered how much fun we had when we went that one time, especially when you biffed it right off the lift or when you said “man, I can’t wait to put on clean underwear.” @ #** @ ! that was funny. I still laugh at that.
     I am going to ride my bike tonight, except it is * @ #** @ ! @ freezing. But oh well, go big or go home, ha ha. I could write a letter that says how much I miss you, but that will just make me sadder, and I want to laugh and remember the good things anyway. Well, I am going to write more often - it makes me feel good.
     Well, I will always remember you, and hope that you will never forget me.
     Love you always,
     Mike Tonn (c) 2000

Dear Cassie
     There hasn’t been a day that has gone by that I haven’t thought about you since you left this earth, and as graduation grows near, I think of you even more. You were a sweetheart who should be marching with us on Sunday. You should be receiving your diploma, have a proud smile on your face, and looking toward the future.
     Now, we have to go through all of these things without you and it hurts. It hurts to know that your spot will be empty. I try every day to talk to people about your bad decision so people won’t have to go through the pain that I and the rest of the class have endured.
     We love you, Cassie, and you will always be a part of the ‘Class of 2001' in spirit.
     Paige Briggs (c) May 25, 2001

Dear Cassie
     This feels really weird typing this even though I know you are gone. You don’t know what you did for me each day in school. Every time I say you it seemed like I got all nervous because you were the nicest and prettiest girl in the school. I wish I had told you this earlier. I wish I could have known you even better. I don’t know why God chose you, but He much have had a good reason for it. I think about you every day. I think about what would be different if you were here. What would you be doing. Every time I see your friends I think of how hard it is for them. I know you had no intentions of hurting people. I can’t imagine the pain that you went through. Man, I wish you were here. I am crying now, and I haven’t cried in six years. You meant so much to me. School is boring but I am trying hard. I think about you in school all day. All the times I was around you, talked to you or saw you. This changed my whole outlook on life. To not take things for granted. I realized this and am pursuing things a lot more. I would have thought that I would have died before you. I have a weird feeling I am going to die at a young age. I don’t know why but I do. I wish I was up there with you, but I know that I have to live my life to the fullest. But I don’t know who I am going to marry now. LOL. I wonder sometimes that if you were still here, would I have told you this? I don’t know. I know that every time I write, if you were still here, I think of you more and more and get sadder. The only thing that picks me up is when I think about all the good things that you did to me. The jeep is still holding up, even your side. I was so impressed with you. I guess I shouldn’t have. You seemed like the perfect girl or woman. Well I better get to bed. I hope you get this. I guess the whole thing means that I will never forget you in my whole lifetime, and I hope you won’t forget me.
     Love you always,
     Mike Tonn (c) 2000


The time that I’ll remember,
from my high-school career,
is not a time of happiness,
nor one that I hold dear.

It does not involve my classes,
Nor when I received a “B.”
It has no relation to school at all.
It’s when we lost Cassie.

I didn’t really know her,
But I’ve learned from friends’ stories.
She was a light in many lives,
Now she’s in God’s glory.

When she died, my heart was crushed.
I shed so many tears.
I felt as though I’d lost a friend,
I’d had for many years.

Her family’s grief was evident.
They smiled through their pain.
I could not console myself,
even now I cry again.

My life has changed in little ways,
it’s all because of Cas.
I spend more time listening to friends,
and don’t just let life pass.

I wish that I had known then,
her fate that came to be.
I’d preach to her my lesson,
until she’d be drug free.

We miss you and we love you, Cas.
You’re ever in our hearts.
Your image remains in my brain,
and never will it part.

By Leigh Krise 2001 (c)

Eulogy for Cassie (excerpt)

November 21, 2001

     The first time that I saw Cassie, it was in the fall of 1997, during tryouts for the Custer County District High School basketball teams. It was here that I saw this individual running up and down the court having the time of her life, carrying on with those around her.
     This girl was always smiling.
     And I noticed this person was always willing to help someone who had either fallen down, jammed a finger or was not feeling well, often asking “Are you O.K.?” or simply saying “Sorry” to one of the other girls for an errant pass or for some other reason.
     Later that day, I put a name to a face. It turned out to be Cassie Haydal.
     It was during the basketball season that I had the opportunity to get to know Cassie, not only basketball player, but much more as a person.
     I soon realized that Cassie shared a lot of the same family values as my family does, such as knowing that religion is important, being with family, doing things together, helping one another, and saying to Mom and Dad, sisters and brothers that “I love you.”
     I knew from the very beginning that she was a very special person...She was kind and caring, one who would truly help you when in time of need. Cassie was never critical of others...She always looked for the good in people.
     One day we had just finished practice and some of the girls were shooting around and I asked if anyone would like to make a bet for a soft drink on a made shot on the 3-point line.
     I remember Cassie running over to me, saying “I will bet you a blizzard from the DQ that I will make this 3-pointer.”
     I said, “Cassie you’ve never bet with me before, why now?” She replied, “Do you want to bet or not?”
     I looked at Cassie and said “Let me get this right, you want to bet me a blizzard from the Dairy Queen that you can make a basket from the 3-point line?”
     She said, “That’s right.”
     I knew this was a good bet for me, as Cassie was a post player and very seldom shot the ball from the perimeter. I could already taste the blizzard. Cassie looked at me, then to the basket and launched the ball.
     As I recall, it was nothing but net, and Cassie was jumping for joy as were the other girls, as I owed Cassie a blizzard.
     I tried for days to get her to go double or nothing on another shot, so I wouldn’t have to pay up, but she would not have anything to do with it. She liked the idea that I owed her a blizzard, and every opportunity she had, she reminded me and anyone else who would listen - until I paid up.
     Cassie was a very generous and caring person - always willing to step in and lend a hand. She was a basketball coach for her sister’s basketball team, and I know that she enjoyed sharing that special time with Nicki. Cassie always reminded me that she had a younger sister coming up, and that she was going to be a basketball player.
     Before Cassie left this life, her final gift was the donation of her cornea and tissues so that others may be helped. She was always willing to help out, and never expected anything in return. This is the kind of person Cassie was - always putting others before herself. Cassie, in her short time in this life, touched so many lives in a positive way.
     I know from my heart, that she made me a better person.
     I would like to share with you some quotes (authors unknown).
     “If I could give you one gift, my friend, I would give you the ability to see yourself as others see you, so you would know how very special you are.”
     “A butterfly lights beside us like a sunbeam. And for a brief moment, its glory and beauty belong to our world. Then it flies on again. And though we wish it could have stayed, we feel so blessed to have seen it.”
     As parents, we believe that our children are gift from God to be reasured, loved, raised to love the Lord, family, and life.
     One only had to be around Cassie to know that she was filled with love ... She lived life to the fullest, bringing such joy and happiness to her family, friends and all who knew her. She had a contagious smile and spirit that lit up a room when she came in. She was a genuine, caring person who truly loved to reach out to others with help, a kind word, a shoulder to cry on - all the things that define friendship.
     Cassie is not here in person now, but know that her life impacted so many people, and she will live on in our hearts forever.
     (Coach) Fred & Mary Wambolt (c)

Music Playing:
sung by
Sarah McLachlan

From Someone Who Loved Cassie