Friday August 26, 2016

I am back in the home office today after three days spent at a retreat with all my communications colleagues. This was my first foray into team building/ideas exchange. As you would imagine... some good, some bad.

It was fun to expand beyond the usual handful of people I know and to meet other colleague from other areas. Of course, that brings with it the dreaded small talk...

We did several "ice breakers" where you chose a colleague you didn't know and introduced yourself. Those quick 10 minute encounters usually involved: which branch of communications are you in, what's your job, where do you live (colleagues from around the country were here) and... wait for it... do you have children?

Well, shit... the options are both bad when I get asked that question... I either lie and then I feel bad, or I tell them the truth and then they feel bad...  I found myself telling the truth. 

I don't want to feel bad and I don't want to deny that Shannon is my daughter. So, I would say "I have one daughter who is a junior and Mayo HS and I had another daughter who died from a brain tumor at age 13." I know that's a lot to dump on someone during a 10 minute ice breaker, but that's my truth...

On the flip side of that, I had two colleagues who sought me out and said they followed our journey or read our book and wanted me to know how much it touched them. So, I guess that felt like validation for sharing our story...

Anyway, it's fun for me to be engaged in work and it's fun to have colleagues with whom to collaborate. I guess I officially have a real job...

Erin has been busy with volleyball for the past two weeks. Weight training in the morning and practice in the afternoon. They've had a couple of scrimmages and their season starts tomorrow with their first game. 

So August will draw to a close. Life is ever changing. Erin is ready to be a junior. My parents are moving back to Minnesota. (We don't know exactly where yet, but that's definitely a separate blog post!) Time marches on and we do our best to keep up...

Tuesday August 16, 2016

I am writing from the plane over the plains... Yes, I am on vacation again... This is a short one - two days with my dear friend Teri watching the pros play tennis in Cincinnati. We've done this trip twice before and we planned it long before I got a full time job. So, I'm using a little PTO (how fun is it that I get PTO?!?) and I'm really looking forward to it.

I am blessed with some wonderful girlfriends in my life and Teri has been around a while... I watched her raise her kids and she watched me she raise mine. We've been around to see the  good and bad in each other's lives. She's a friend I can go a year without seeing and we pick up right where we left off.

Dan and Erin are being supportive of be being gone. I think it's a good idea to prove from time to time that they can survive without me!

Erin is plenty busy as volleyball season has begun. Tomorrow is schedule pickup day. How can Erin be a junior? People always told me that time goes so fast once your kids are in high school. Now I believe them...

So, I got my 8 hours of work in today (amazing what you can get done when you start at 5:30am!) and now I'm flying... and listening to music. It's fun to have the headphones on and just be in my own world.

My mix has included the Avett Brothers, Duncan Sheik, A little Depeche Mode and... Fetty Wap... I think Erin might have added that last one to the music library...

So, I am feeling happy today. Dan and I were just talking this weekend about our happiness. I would never have believed we could feel joy and contentment the way we do in this aftermath that is our life. But we are happy a lot of the time...

We had a couple of Shannon moments this week. One came from a parent who had just taken her daughter to college. Her daughter was a friend of Shannon's and the two of them were remembering Shannon as the next stage of life begins...

The second Shannon moment was from a friend of Shannon's who wanted to make a donation to the foundation before he heads off to school. What a kind gesture from a great kid. I'm sure he could have found something to spend the money on. They carry her with them...

So, today I am grateful. Grateful for family and friends. Grateful for the love and kindness of others.

"Sometimes you gotta bleed to know... that you're alive and have a soul" - Tear in my heart by twenty one pilots


Monday August 8, 2016

Lake Hubert is a special place to us... Shannon's favorite place and a place full of fun childhood memories of our girls.

When we arrived this weekend, it was a terrible sight - large, 100-year-old pine trees had fallen across the driveway, across the sidewalk blocking the lake view, and on right onto the roof of the old cabin.



Shannon's rock came close to being damaged, but she's still there... we did need to hire professionals to help us dig out...


The pros took care of the big trees and we've spent the weekend cleaning up the smaller trees and branches that we're strewn around the property.

We've had friends up for this first four days of our vacation, and it's been great. The Klees family - Marty, Heather along with their three girls Liz, Kelly and Lauren. Oh, and we added Erin and Liz's best buddy Marcus to the mix, too. The girls all know each other through volleyball and Marcus is the VB manager, so they've been peppering and talking volleyball in between eating, swimming, boating, skiing, tubing, fishing and sleeping. Meanwhile, Marty, Heather Dan and I have been doing a pretty good job of relaxing. Nice all the way around.

It's always fun to show someone new our special place at the lake. We had a rousing game of dock ball today - a volleyball-type made up O'Hara game where the rules can be somewhat subject to interpretation. It's a game that involves arguing and trash talking - perfect for this crowd!

                                            

We've reached a new stage at the lake - kids are old enough to go boating or drive into town by themselves. And yet, they still hang with us and talk about life around the campfire.  

I have to say, the best part is seeing Erin so happy. Up here. Again. She loves her friends and she is loved. These friends are some of Erin's safe people. And that makes me love them, too.


                             

Wednesday August 3, 2016

August... already...

We are gearing up for the last couple of weeks of summer vacation including a trip to Lake Hubert. We are bringing friends along this year - friends for Erin, and friends for us.

Our original plan was to have the Shives family with us this year... then cancer got in the way. Kula has reached another stage in her journey as radiation treatments started this week. 5 days a week for 5 weeks... no trip to the cabin this year... 2017 for sure...

Cancer has been on our minds these past few weeks as a longtime friend of ours was diagnosed with colon cancer which has metastasized. Michelle is our age. She was the first of DanO's high school buddies wives that I met. She was so kind to me the first night I hung out with the Bloomington Lincoln class of '81. Every guy seemed to have a nickname, and I didn't know a soul.

We've stayed in touch with them through all these years and the ups and downs we've each faced. Mark and Michelle have a long road ahead of them, but they, too are fighting the evil cancer with all they have...

In the concentric circles that make up life, the Shives, who traveled Shannon's journey with us and are now fighting their own battle, have paid it forward and helped Michelle be seen here at Mayo Clinic... Michelle started her chemo here this week... cancer sucks, but friends help...

Each of us must play the hand we are dealt. Do the best we can, while we are here. Fight our battles with everything we have...To that end, we sent off our scholarship checks this week. Two more Shannon O'Hara Foundation recipients on their way to the next stage of life. August brings college and two more kids are headed that way with a little help from our girl.

Pay it forward...




Happy Birthday Shannon

Today would have been Shannon's 18th birthday... we know that she's not here to celebrate, but how should we spend the day? After 5 years of living through her birthday without her, I still don't know the answer...

Grief and loss does change with the passage of time. It's like more things get piled on top of the wound, but you can still feel the wound underneath. Some days, the wound hurts more than others. Erin sat alone in her room last night, with nothing to do. It would have been the kind of night where you hang out with your older sister and watch a movie. Erin got the shortest straw of all...

And yet, day-to-day, Dan, Erin and I are happy. Our lives are rich and full and our friendships are deep and meaningful. We have thrived in many ways since the loss of Shannon. That's almost unbelievable to me, but it's true. Did we change? Did the people in our constellation change? Yes, in many ways the world became kinder to us...

People give us the benefit of the doubt. People admire us for how we've handled our loss. People root for us to succeed and be happy. We feel compassion from others more often than most.

In the past 5 years, we've been able to surround ourselves with people who allow us to talk about Shannon. We can speak of both our children without consequence. That is a beautiful thing. It doesn't make the wound heal completely, but it softens the edges.

Shannon as an adult... who can imagine that? I'm trying to with all my might...  Like many other milestone days that now happen without Shannon, I miss my sassy, smiling first born. But time marches on... relentlessly...

A week from today, we will head to Lake Hubert, Shannon's self-proclaimed favorite place on earth. We feel close to her there where memories of her childhood are easy to conjure up.

So, we will get through today.

Happy Birthday to you, Miss Shannon.


MGG Swings for Shannon


We had an incredible day on Monday at our 4th Annual Mayo Girls Golf Swings for Shannon event. 140 golfers enjoyed beautiful weather and a wonderful feeling of fellowship.

Each year we are humbled by the love and support of others... this year, we set a new record by raising $16,805. Truly amazing.

Putting on a tournament takes lots of time and effort. With that in mind, we have decided to run this event for two more years, seeing Erin through her high school career. The dates are:

                    Monday July 17, 2017 & Monday July 16, 2018

Don't get me wrong, all the work that goes into it is repaid many times over when I get the chance to connect with people... all because of Shannon.

So, thank you, thank you for your continued friendship, love and support. We wouldn't be where we are today without you...

Thursday July 14, 2016

It's been such an unsettled time in our country... violence and hatred and fear... I find at times like these that I want to look inward, close my circle, and hold tight to those that mean the most to me...

I don't have any answers.. just a need to acknowledge that I wish for peace, love and understanding...

As we prep for our big fundraiser next Monday, I am buoyed by those willing to give their time and money to the Shannon O'Hara Foundation. I look forward to seeing the groups out there on the golf course and I hope to have a chance to chat with all of you.

We've got some great raffle prizes again this year and our field is almost full. The Mayo Girls Golf team is doing their part to support the SOF and the girls will be out there volunteering on Monday.

So, I am looking forward to spending a day with people who care about something bigger than themselves. A group of people working together towards a common goal, supporting each other and the mission of the foundation. That will feel good...