Sunday Jan. 7, 2018

I was happy to awake this morning and see that the calendar had turned to January 7th. Yesterday marked the 6th anniversary of Shannon's passing. 6 years is too long without her, and we know that feeling will only grow.

Of all the anniversaries, I think Jan. 6 might be the worst. There is such finality to it. Although it's the day Shannon's suffering ended, I don't feel any peace at all about January 6th.

Yesterday, we each found our ways of coping with our emotions. Erin spent the night of the 5th at a slumber party with some of her besties. That way, she could wake up surrounded by people who love and care for her.

I chose to drag my butt to the athletic club and play tennis with my girlfriends. People who knew what day it was, and were there to lift me up. Girlfriends still make my world a better place, even 6 years down the road.

Before I returned from tennis, Erin returned home from her sleepover and she and Dan spent some time reading passages from Determined to Matter. Remembering what it was like in the days after Shannon passed. How Erin had to go back to school, go back to basketball practice and start living the rest of her life. How did she do that at 10 years old not completely fall apart?

Dan, Erin and I had wonderful messages and texts from family and friends who remember. People who get it. I had one friend remind me what a gift Shannon was. What a nice way to think about her life.

January 6th just brings the pain of knowing the rest of our lives are not what we envisioned. It doesn't mean we don't feel happiness and enjoy our days. We do. But it's different than we'd like it to be. We just have to take it day by day and do the best we can. That's true for all of us, though, isn't it?

January is a busy month for the foundation as we are receiving scholarship applications and gearing up for the Shannon Cup youth tournaments as well. This is the good we can do in Shannon's memory.  Her cells are still being used for research at Mayo Clinic. That's the good Shannon chose to do. This is what she wanted. To make a difference.

And so, 2018 has begun. The calendar has turned. Living the rest of our lives... that's what we're doing...

Saturday Dec. 23, 2017

Winter break has arrived and all three of us are in need of some down time. A nasty head cold has gotten all of us, so sleeping in and napping during the day are in order. I'm ok with that.

It has been a busy stretch of school activities for Erin. The Mayo HS student body does a holiday fundraiser for the local women's shelter and Dorothy Day House each year. This year, they raised over $60,000. So amazing and I love seeing the joy that these kids get from giving back to the community. It was a great way to end the 2017 school year.

Dan and I had a fundraising opportunity this week as well. The Lourdes Girls Hockey team held a Shannon O'Hara Foundation night on Thursday. We were presented with a donation of more than $1500 which included $500 from the local Potbelly's franchise which had an SOF day and donated 25% of the proceeds.

It is truly humbling to see the generosity and feel the support for what we are doing. What Shannon's death - and life - has allowed us to do. I need to remember the why.

So, the holidays are here again. It's always bittersweet. There is always something missing. 5 Christmases without Shannon.

But, there is joy. I love the shopping and trappings of the holiday. So does Erin. Today we will bake some holiday treats and listen to cheesy Christmas music. Same as it ever was. But different.

Wishing you all a joyous holiday. Enjoy the time with those you love. In the end, that's all that matters.

Friday Dec. 8, 2017

The cold temps, a dusting of snow and the decorations on our street have brought the holidays to the forefront in a hurry. We've been so busy that we have a Christmas tree, but no decorations on it yet. This is way late for me and my anxiety over getting things done on time is kicking in to high gear! I haven't bought a single present or sent out Christmas cards yet. Erin tells me she'll have time after school today to help string the lights and hang the ornaments, so that will be a step in the right direction.

We're a little behind schedule since we've been traveling. After returning from our Thanksgiving vacation, we worked for three days and then headed out again to do college visits in New Jersey and Philadelphia. A bonus was staying with my aunt and uncle, who are great hosts and even better company.

Erin has now applied to 10 schools, visited 8, been accepted to 4, and awaits decisions from the other 6. She's got a definite first choice, but we're not talking about it until an acceptance letter comes!

Touring college campuses is fun. I am all in on this process... Dan and Erin might say I'm over the top... I just like to be prepared with facts, figures, looking at the map, etc. Yes, I realize I am not the one who is going to school...

So while we wait for acceptance decisions, it's time to turn our focus to the holidays. It's always an interesting time of year. Joy and excitement, but also a layer of sadness for us with each Christmas that passes without Shannon. She was here so long ago.

The holidays are a tough time for people who have lost loved ones. Not that we don't miss our loved ones every day, but it's more acute in times of celebration, when we are taking stock of all the good in our lives. And there is plenty of good. But something is always missing. And, I think, the idea of Erin growing up and moving on to college is making me think even more about Shannon.

We've in the midst of our holiday giving campaign again for the Shannon O'Hara Foundation, and it makes going to the mailbox a joy each day. Those who are willing to give in memory of Shannon are a reminder that she was here, she mattered, and her spirit carries on.

"It is the nature of grace always to fill spaces that have been empty." - Goethe

Thanksgiving Day 2017

We are enjoying our fourth consecutive non-traditional Thanksgiving. Using all of Dan's Marriott points to enjoy some R & R at our favorite resort in Palm Desert, CA.

Golf, sun and time together without the distractions of work and school. That's something for which to be thankful. With Erin in college next year, we don't know that this will be in the plans in 2018, so we are enjoying every minute of it this time around.

On this day, we take stock of the good things in our lives. A day about gratitude.

I am thankful for our families who have supported us and root for our happiness.

I am thankful for friends who have become family.

I am thankful for the ladies in my life. So many groups of women - tennis friends, volleyball mom squad and the hockey moms - who I get to call friends.

I am thankful for a job I love that keeps me engaged and learning new things.

I am thankful for Shannon. I was lucky to be her mom and am grateful I get to carry on her spirit.

Most of all, I am thankful for Dan and Erin. They are my everything. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all. I hope your day is filled with laughter, love, friendship and family.

Shannon O'Hara Foundation Night - Nov. 16 - Rochester Rec Center

Just a friendly reminder that we will be celebrating HS girls hockey tomorrow night at the Rec Center. It's a doubleheader:

     Century vs. Mankato East - 5:30pm
     JM vs. Mayo - 7:30pm

Some of the Lourdes girls hockey team will be on hand as well, volunteering at our merchandise table.

New Shannon gear will be available: hoodies, 1/4 zip, ladies baseball T's

Youth hockey players who wear their jersey to the games, get in free with a paid adult.

See you tomorrow night at the Rec Center!

Saturday Nov. 4, 2017

Dan and I took Sunny the Wonderdog for a walk around the reservoir this morning. Cold and wet... and invigorating. It's always been our place to walk and talk about life. It's a Shannon place for sure.

Today's talk was about Erin, college, jobs. The usual life stuff. These are uncertain times where we don't know what next fall will look like. Will we be going somewhere out east to visit Erin? Will she change her mind and decide to stay closer? Where will she get in? How much will it cost? I'm so not good at uncertainty...

Erin has transitioned from the end of volleyball season to her first winter without a sport since elementary school. No offseason volleyball, so more time to work at the RAC and keep her social life humming. Let's just say, she's succeeding!

Girls hockey season started this week and I had the privilege of talking to some of the teams at their pre-season meetings. This year's senior class are the last girls who played on teams with Shannon. And, the youngest girls on these high school teams grew up playing in the Shannon Cup tournaments. So, a time of transition. Walking in to a room and seeing three different girls wearing Shannon gear is pretty cool.

Speaking of Shannon gear, new stuff has arrived! We have a new 1/4 zip for men and women, a new hockey hoodie and a baseball t for women. 

We will be selling Shannon gear at two upcoming girls hockey dates:

     Nov. 16 - Rec Center
          Century vs. Mankato East - 5:30pm
          JM vs. Mayo - 7:30pm

     Dec. 21 - Graham Arena 
          JM vs. Owatonna - 5:30pm
          Lourdes vs. Eden Prairie - 7:30

So, another hockey season is upon us. We're ready.

Sunday Oct. 22, 2017

Has it been 3 weeks since I sat down to share my thoughts? Looking at the list of posts on this blog, I guess so.

Fall is in full swing here in MN. The leaves are flaming out in brilliant colors and then giving way to what comes next. I saw on the news last night that snowflakes appeared on the weather forecast for later this week.

The volleyball regular season ended this weekend and playoffs begin on Wednesday. It's down to the win or go home portion of the season. Hard to believe 6 years of volleyball is down to the final weeks. It's been a joy to watch Erin and her friends play and I'm going to miss it terribly. Erin will, too. While she still has a high school golf season left, and potentially golf in college, it's not the same feeling as playing a team sport like volleyball. We've enjoy (almost) every minute of it.

But, the season's not over yet. Mayo should get a first round home playoff game this Wednesday.

Simultaneous with the volleyball season has been college application season! Erin is just about done with me prodding and cajoling her to get things done. Erin is applying to 5 schools that have direct entry Physician Assistant's programs and another 4 schools that have health sciences or nursing options. Thank goodness for the Common App which makes applying to multiple schools an easy task.

Because of the early deadlines for the PA programs (Nov. 1), Erin is applying to schools she hasn't yet seen. This is not the most efficient way to do things, but it's the best we could do during volleyball. In December, me, Dan and Erin will make a trip to NJ/PA to look at the schools to which Erin applied. We already visited the NYC schools that are on her list, so after Dec., she will have seen all the schools she's considering.

There are no guarantees of getting into a direct entry PA program as it is very competitive. But, Erin's done what she could to beef up her resume and whatever happens, she's going to go to college somewhere :)

So, senior year clicks along with this strange dual role for Erin. Doing things at Mayo for the last time (homecoming, volleyball season) while planning for what's ahead.

Dan and I are doing our best to enjoy the moments as they pass and start preparing for what's ahead, too. What will we do in our empty nest? Erin is sure I can't come to college with her...

But, lots of ground to cover before that. Two weeks left in first quarter, volleyball playoffs and college applications to be sent. When all of that is said and done, our annual Thanksgiving trip to Palm Desert. We will all be ready for some R & R.