Wednesday September 17, 2014

Let's just say, I am happy I have a new car because I am spending a lot of time in it!  The high schooler's schedule is keeping us on the run.

Erin has school, volleyball, debate team and confirmation.  We haven't managed to fit piano into the schedule yet, but she wants to do that, too.

That list doesn't include the social agenda:  volunteering, surprise birthday parties, and this week - homecoming.  Friday will bring the homecoming parade and football game, and Saturday, after an all day volleyball tournament, the homecoming dance.  Yes, Erin is going.  With a boy.  As friends.  That's all I'm allowed to say here in the blog...

Seriously, though,  Erin has a great group of friends who are all going to their first high school dance.  Some have dates, some don't.  Erin is playing social director and trying to make sure everyone is included.  It's pretty cool to see.  (As an aside, I never went to homecoming.  In those days, you only went if you had a date.  Nobody asked me.  I was a shy nerd back then.  I think I've almost grown out of it...)

I can't help but wonder if Erin can keep up this pace.  It seems unsustainable to me and Dan.  As she reminds us often, though, we are old.  We had a funny exchange with her in the car last week.  On that particular day, I had taken her to school, then returned to Mayo HS at the end of volleyball practice to bring her dinner so she could stay at school and do homework before debate team practice.  At the end of debate, Dan and I picked her up and took her to a friends surprise 16th birthday party.  She returned home at 10 pm - on a school night! - driven by a friend who has a driver's license.

Dan said to E, "I'm exhausted just trying to keep up with you, I can't imagine you it feels to be you."  Erin looked at us, and with a big smile said, "It's exhilarating!"

Oh, to be young and have the world by the tail...

So, the crazy schedule continues - last night it was a volleyball home game with a big win over rival Owatonna.  Tonight it's volleyball practice and then confirmation.  Tomorrow Erin is off to Austin after school for another volleyball game.   Friday, the homecoming weekend will commence.

I just got to thinking, I haven't mentioned homework once in this post.  I assume Miss E is managing to keep up with her schoolwork, too.  I should probably check with her on that...

Sunday September 14, 2014

I am writing this morning from sunny So Cal.  I could post a bunch of photos - me at Newport Beach, me at Laguna Beach  - but that seems cruel when there are frost warnings at home.  Dan and Erin didn't get to come on this trip, so I don't want to rub it in...

I came to Irvine for my cousin Alli's wedding.  It has been a wonderful chance for me to see my aunts and uncles.  My moms brothers - all 8 of them - were a big part of my life growing up.  Time passes and some things are forgotten, but time together leads to the telling of stories and that helps jog the memory.

My mom and I are both here solo, so it's been a nice little mother/daughter getaway as well.  It's not often that we get time together without others and their needs as a part of the program. (Women, you know what I'm talking about!)  So, we've been soaking up sun and time together.

My uncle J.J., the father of the bride, gave a beautiful toast last night.  He talked about how children change our view of what matters in this world.  He talked about dreams coming true, and, how kids are proof of that.  He was beaming with pride, walking his daughter down the aisle.

Weddings, family, dreams... 

This is just another one of those experiences that won't ever be the same.  Life events are more poignant now.  No way around that fact.  But, I'm still learning how to be in my new life.  It feels like forever without Shannon, and yet, I'm still discovering this new version of myself.  Every life event is a chance to grow, to find my equilibrium.  It feels good to acknowledge that I'm going to miss Shannon forever, and some times it will be brought into sharp relief.  Hanging with my extended family makes me think about my own family.  But, it also feels good to know that I can enjoy these things, too.  The loss of Shannon hasn't destroyed me.  I'm still standing.

But, don't get me wrong, this has been a wonderful weekend for me.  Lots of laughs and lots of connections with people I love.  Weddings, family and dreams are all good things.  And, a couple of trips to the beach didn't hurt either...

20 Years


Today is our wedding anniversary.  20 years ago, this engagement photo announced that Dan and I would join together and be a family.  I wish I could tell those young lovebirds a thing or two about what lay ahead for them.

I could tell them that marriage will be hard.  Nobody knows this when they begin.  I could tell them that they will have to watch each other struggle, and wait for a chance to help.  I could tell them that sometimes they will drive each other crazy.  I could tell them that some lessons are learned the hard way, but that the struggles are worth it.  I could tell them that the birth of children will change them forever.  I could warn them...

But, maybe ignorance is bliss.  Maybe you learn what you're suppose to know when you're suppose to know it.  Those two young people didn't know much, so they jumped right in.  Thank goodness.

The trick is to continue to grow together and not grow apart.  Some of life you just have to figure out along the way.  We're older and wiser now, with a lot more scar tissue.  But, we still love being together.  We laugh.  We laugh a lot.  Even after what we've been through, we manage to find happiness and joy along the way.  We have a special tenderness between us now.  We've earned it.

Happy 20th Anniversary, Dan.  The journey continues...

Thursday September 4, 2014

So, my first two days of high school have gone well... oh, wait, this is not about me... As I was saying, Erin's first two days of high school have gone well.  She is definitely ready for more responsibility and independence.  And I am ready to give it to her.  I think...

I still catch myself wanting to step into places where I am no longer needed.  Erin is very gentle with me when she reminds me to butt out.  Fly birdie, fly...

Miss E likes her teachers and is enjoying the fact that older kids are mixed right into her classes.  It will be a good course load for her with Honors options in 4 of her 6 classes.  Add volleyball games twice a week, practice the other three days and confirmation every other Wednesday and, let's just say, we're going to be busy.

But, busy is good.  It means that we are moving, and hopefully, that means moving forward. Everything in Erin's life from here on out is new to us.  I have really been feeling this, deeply.  I'm doing my best to cherish it for what is, not worry about what will be, and not lament what never was.  We've got a lot of positives in our lives.  I will try to keep my focus on that.

There is so much to be gained if you can live in the present.  I know this, and yet it's a constant struggle for me.  Why?  I don't know.  I still catch myself projecting too far down the road, wondering about the what ifs.  I have to remind myself to just stay here, be present.  This is a lesson I seem to have to learn over and over again.  I can very easily get sucked in to feeling the weight of the past and the fear of the future.

I guess I am recognizing that it's something I've lost along the way - that feeling that I can control things, that preparation will make everything right.  Somehow, I could trick myself into believing that if I just do a really good job of worrying about everything, then everything will turn out ok in the end.  Truth is, I never did have control of what will be.  I was just fooling myself...

So, I take a step back and remind myself to just be present.  Erin is off to day 3 of high school.  That is good.  We will tackle what's right here in front of us, then go to bed and get up tomorrow to do it all again.  One day at a time.  That, my friends, is life.

"Remember then:  there is only one time that is important - now!  It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power." - Leo Tolstoy

First Day of High School

Well, it's here.  Time marches on and Erin is off to high school.  How did that happen?


Erin was a little bummed that she had to dress up today.  Volleyball has a match tonight, so the team members all dress up on game day.  Erin didn't really want to wear a skirt on the first day of school.  She explained to me and Dan, "I'm going to look like a try hard."  A "Try hard" is new terminology for us, but pretty self explanatory!

As Dan and I talked this morning he asked if I was sad at all.  Yes and no.  So strange to be visiting new territory, a stage that Shannon never reached.  And yet, Erin is happy and excited, so we should be, too.  And we are.

As I was taking the above picture, Dan was taking a picture of me.  And capturing a little sign from above:


Hard to deny that Shannon is with us.  Go get 'em Smiley...

Saturday August 30, 2014

Erin is wasting no time getting her feet wet as a high schooler... literally...

Last night after volleyball practice she road tripped with friends (including a parent or two) over to Austin for the first football game of the season.  The weather did not cooperate - torrential downpours had them soaked before the game even began.

Erin didn't care a lick.

As Dan and I sat at home thinking how miserable she must be, Erin was loving every minute of being a part of the student section.  She came home saying "that was so much fun."  They wore garbage bags and cheered on their team.  Erin must have watched the game because she was able to recount for me who scored Mayo's touchdowns.  (Mayo notched their first win, by the way.)

So, what sounded miserable to us was a blast for her.  Ah, to be young again...

Erin is still sleeping this morning, taking advantage of her last few days of freedom. We will enjoy this final weekend of summer - a cookout, some golf, volleyball practice and Dan's fantasy football draft.

Then, come Tuesday, Erin will really be a high schooler.  It's such a significant life marker.  I am happy and sad at the same time.  This is our one chance for all these experiences.  Damn.

But, this is not about me, it's about Erin, so I will do my best to enjoy every moment.  I have no doubt Miss E will show me how it's done.

Happy Labor Day Weekend to all.

Wednesday August 27, 2014

The days of summer are slipping away now and the air temperature in the mornings and evenings certainly signals that fall is upon us.  One more holiday weekend and then it's back to the routine, especially for Miss E.  High school... wow...

We had fun this past weekend as Erin had a friend stay with us while her parents were out of town.  I have to admit, I didn't even realize that I missed hearing the banter that happens when there are two kids in the house.  It caught me off guard a bit.  How could I have forgotten what that was like...

It is a strange feeling - we all want time to pass and our kids to progress and everyone to move forward.  That is the normal pattern of life and what we all strive for.  And yet, as time passes, Shannon gets left further behind.  Maybe I am forgetting little things as the days go by.  How could I not?  I don't like that feeling.  As I listened to Erin and her friend chat, I tried to remember the sound of Shannon's voice...

Maybe it's the fall that's making me sentimental.  It's always a time of year where you take stock of where our kids are at, and send them on their way to the next level.  Easier said than done for me...

Maybe it's all the foundation work I've been doing lately that's making me think about Shannon.  We had our semi-annual board meeting this past weekend.  Exciting times now for the Shannon O'Hara Foundation.  Receiving our tax exempt status opens new doors for us on the fundraising front.  If you are interested, check out our new "Donate" button on the SOF website.  We have also added a store with our Shannon merchandise for those of you who don't have the opportunity to buy from us in person at our events.

Speaking of events, there are a lot of dates in the coming months where the SOF will be present.  HS Girls hockey on December 13th, Shannon Cup events in January, scholarship night in February.  We also have a new opportunity via the Rochester Amateur Sports Commission this year.  Proceeds from their annual banquet (Jan. 26) will go to the SOF.  So, our calendar is filling up with opportunities to fundraise and spread the word.   That feels good.

First up on the schedule is the annual Brains Together For a Cure walk on October 4th at the RCTC Fieldhouse.  This was the first event we ever took part in on our journey with Shannon, so we really hope we can have a group walk in honor of Shannon again this year.  Our plan, as always, is to wear our Shannon shirts and support the cause.  All money raised stays local to fund brain tumor research at the Mayo Clinic.  You can register here:  www.brainstogetherforacure.org.

So, time marches on.  Exciting things are happening.  The calendar of activities begins again.  Fundraising continues.

And as always, we feel the pang of something missing.  That's good.  I don't want to forget.  Sweet Shannon.