Let me start by saying that what I'm writing today is not intended to be sad. It's more of a tribute to my little sister on what would be her 53rd birthday.

She's been gone a little over nine years. The sorrow still hits me on the anniversary of her passing. But during the rest of the year, I'll run across an old photograph of her or some other memento that makes me think of her and smile.

Coming from a family of "characters," Michelle was the biggest one. The most charismatic, but the least motivated by money.

She waited tables from her teenage years and worked at most of the restaurants in Great Falls before she followed dad and me into broadcasting.

She was working midnight to six on a classic rock station. I'd tune in to listen to her show. One night she had not opened the microphone once in two hours. So, I called and asked her what she was doing. She went on to tell me that she was counseling a listener who was getting divorced. Okay.

Another time she was at a bar and told the bartender that she would do some ads over the phone in return for free drinks.

But Michelle could never shake substance addiction. The years of abusing her body and doing drugs finally took her in 2011. Then last year, substance abuse would take her husband, Paul. So I've got two nieces who are both under 30 years of age and have lost both parents.

I didn't tell you that to depress you. I told you that to tell you how it affected me. It made me get involved in a friend's alcoholism battle. Me and another friend drove him to treatment multiple times. We went to his funeral last week. Watching a person battle addiction is a hell of a thing to watch. Especially when it's someone you love.

Something interesting that came out of losing my sister was people that I didn't know before stopping me in the grocery store to tell me that they were sorry and then tell me about the sibling they lost. And there have been many of those.

So, here's a toast to those who have lost loved ones too soon. Let's have a drink and tell each other about them.

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