New Year's Eve

Shannon is resting a little more peacefully after a rough start this morning. Her breathing became shallow and raspy sounding, possibly due to increased cranial pressure, again. She has been asking for water all day as she tries to clear her chest. It has taken a while for the morphine and Ativan to help calm her down and allow her lungs to relax. We’re hoping for a more restful night - no 3:00am milkshake! - but we’ll take it as it comes...

It's New Year's Eve, a night where we always reflect on the past year and think about the one ahead. I could never have anticipated what would happen to us in 2011.

Last year at this time, we were busy with all the normal life things - school, jobs, hockey, and basketball. Life was sailing along, and we were busy planning our big family spring break trip to New York City and Washington D.C.

Our trip was one of those where you do all the legwork to prepare for how to spend your time and what sights to see and then, magically, things go just as you had hoped they would. We have a couple hundred photos from the trip, pictures of our "perfect" little family with the girls at just the right ages to enjoy it. Shannon and Erin smiling in Times Square, goofing in Central Park, taking in the history at the U.S. Capitol, and the obligatory pose outside the White House. Not a clue that two weeks later, Shannon would be diagnosed.

So now I sit here and reflect on that time B.D. - before diagnosis, and the ensuing 8 months that bring us to today. Those carefree spring break days are a moment in time, but the lessons we've learned since April 15th changed us, changed me in ways I couldn't imagine.

We learned new medical terminology and we learned our way around the campus of the Mayo Clinic. We learned about perseverance and a positive attitude from our own child. We learned that people are kind and generous beyond belief. We learned that people like our kids and they like us. We learned to take each day as it comes. We learned to enjoy the good days. We learned to battle through the bad days and stay together no matter where life takes us - even to Tennessee.

I learned some things about myself, too. I learned that writing is cathartic for me. I learned that I can make good friends. I learned that I can be strong. I learned that having things planned and staying on schedule isn't as important as I thought. I learned that I love being a mother.

2012 is almost here. Happy New Year.