BRIGHAM CITY -- Jack and Marge Small's pleasant memories of attending a family reunion in Norway earlier this month were replaced with fear this weekend when they heard a political extremist had killed more than 70 people in Oslo and at a youth camp on the island of Utoya.
"Our first concern was for two cousins," Marge Small told the Standard-Examiner on Tuesday.
"We knew that Haakon (Bjar) worked for the government in Oslo. Another cousin, a Lutheran minister, Jon Syver, spoke at youth camps."
The Smalls attended their first-ever family reunion with 110 relatives earlier this month. After the news of the tragedies, Marge Small emailed another cousin, Inger Bjar-Kessler, and asked if they were safe. To her relief, both cousins were fine.
"We were relieved to know they were safe, but very saddened about the tragedy," she said. "I have been in close contact with Inger, and everyone has been very affected by the shootings and bombings."
Bjar and her parents have written several emails to Small.
In one correspondence, they wrote, "We are all in shock and mourning. In all, 86 young people were shot dead, one by one, and by the bomb at least seven people lost their lives. The entire country is deeply shaken, but we are all determined that we shall get through this horror and tragedy and also take care of each other, so help us God."
On Monday, according to the Associated Press, officials in Norway adjusted the death toll in both incidents to 76 -- 68 young people at the youth camp and eight people in the bombing.
In another email, Kessler wrote, "Norway is in a state of grief. Tomorrow there will be a minute of silence all over the country, and yesterday all government flag poles had the Norwegian flag raised at half pole to show our grief. ... However, everybody agrees that life must go on. We will not let terrorists of any kind stop us from going back to normal life."
Small said 15,000 people attended a memorial Tuesday morning in Kessler's hometown of Tonsberg.
Coincidentally, the Smalls drove past the island where the youth camp massacre happened.
"You know, while we were there, I just kept taking pictures of this beautiful island on the lake," Small said. "It was just so beautiful, I couldn't stop taking pictures. I had no idea that this tragedy would occur in that very place a couple of weeks later."
The Smalls met 110 cousins when they traveled to the family reunion in Norway.
"It was the country where our grandfather emigrated from in 1885," Small said. "It was something we had never dreamed of doing a year ago."
While the Smalls are clinging to the wonderful memories they made and the newfound relatives they now cherish, they continue to worry about their family's safety and well-being.
"We are grateful everyone is OK," Small said, "but we are staying in close contact.
"We are also grateful we got home before it happened, because our family would have been terrified not knowing whether we were OK or not, but our thoughts and prayers go out to them and to the victims of this horrible tragedy."