Leap Day

There is no daily meditation to read in our book today - I guess they didn't plan for you to use it in a leap year!

Erin is home sick today - lots of crud going around school and this cold and cough finally got the best of her. Hopefully a day of sleeping in and rest will help her fight it off. She's been a trooper this winter and hasn't missed a day of school since Shannon's funeral. It hasn't been easy ...

Erin has been struggling with memories, and music has been a source of many tears this week. And, as you know, we love our music around here. Songs and lyrics seem to constantly remind Erin of Shannon. Where Dan and I have mostly found solace and comfort in listening to our tunes, Erin has felt pain. Maybe that's the difference between being in your 40's and being 10.

So, yesterday afternoon I cranked up the iPod and Erin and I listened to show tunes from some of our favorite musicals: everything from West Side Story and Annie to Wicked and Memphis, with a little Hairspray and Mama Mia mixed in. There may have been dancing involved. I'll spare you the details, but let's just say in my next life I'm coming back as an ensemble member in a Broadway hit. Erin laughed and cringed asked me to stop dancing ...

I tried to frame for Erin the good memories that are associated with these songs. The time we saw Mama Mia from the front row in Vegas when we could see right into the orchestra pit. Or seeing Wicked from the balcony at the Orpheum in Minneapolis. Or our night when we saw the real deal on Broadway in NYC with the Tony award winning Memphis.

Those are good memories, but it's a hard realization at age 10 that you don't get to make any more good memories with your sister. Erin told me the other night that the bad memories of the end of Shannon's life are so close for her, but the good memories are getting farther away.

So, for Erin the goal is to keep the good memories alive and carry Shannon's spirit within her while still looking forward,forging ahead, and finding her own path in life. That is a hard but necessary goal. Erin can't quite comprehend how to make that happen and that makes her frustrated and sad. My only motherly advice is to try and do it one day at a time...

At the end of the musical Wicked, there is a song about the life-altering friendship between the two main characters. While one of them is dying, the other must carry on and carry her friend's spirit with her. From the song, "For Good":

I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you...

So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You'll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart

...Because I knew you
I have been changed for good.

Sunday February 26, 2012

Another weekend spent watching basketball comes to a close. Erin's Spartans rebounded from a first game loss to win their next 3 games and take home the consolation championship at the Rochester tourney.

Smiley played hard every minute she was out there, and loved the time spent with her teammates. She is happy when she's with these girls. And we're happy when we see her happy. Thank goodness we've had basketball to keep us busy and keep us moving.

Grandma and Papa Harkins were able to spend some time with us and see two basketball games before heading back to Las Vegas today. I think they enjoyed their visit and they could see with their own eyes that the three of us are doing the best we can. Some days - some hours - are better than others. They probably already realized that, though. They are living that way, too.

We have another "normal" week ahead. A full school week for Erin, and the last week of the basketball season. It will be a full work week for Dan, too, including more travel. As he likes to say, the customers don't come visit you ...

Today our other favorite team, the Rebels, saw their season come to an end. So sad for those girls that this special season is over. But so proud of them, too. What an up and down year they had, and what an end of the season run. I know in my heart those girls have been changed by what they experienced together this year.

Dan and I will watch from a distance as they all grow and progress as people and as hockey players, and they will always have a special place in our hearts as Shannon's last team. We love you, Rebels. We always will.

Saturday February 25, 2012

First off, Jen's van is fine.  Don't know what happened.  Our guy Roger at Auto Techs cleaned out the fuel line but wasn't able pinpoint a specific issue that would have kept it from starting.  Who knows.  It's a 2002 Chrysler with 180,000 miles.  Let's just say, we will  be keeping our AAA membership current.

As a family we continue to do the hard work required to get better.  Each morning at breakfast, we try to read from the daily reflection book Healing After Loss, Daily Meditation for Working Through Grief.  The entry from Friday February 25 delivered this timely message;

"One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves (and we'll know we've passed a milestone when we are able to do this) is to remember, with delight and laughter, the funny times we shared with our loved one.

At first we have little heart for laughter.  Later, when we do, it may seem disrespectful to the dead.  Perhaps, we even feel guilty.

But think -which would your loved one rejoice in more-seeing you sad, or seeing you reveling in the memory of wonderful, hilarious time together?
A merry heart doeth good like medicine. Proverbs 17:22"

This week while I was on the road for work I found myself in a bit of a funk.  Didn't feel much like talking.  I thought I took a couple steps backwards after stringing together some good time.

The quote in our daily reflections book for today reminds me that is OK; "I am feeling down today, it doesn't mean I will forever."

So we continue to heal.  Slowly.  I've learned feeding the soul with readings and music and quiet reflection becomes part of the discipline required for recovery.  Doesn't mean it doesn't suck some days.

But we can do this... Shannon would insist.

This weekend Erin's Spartans play in the Rochester Youth Basketball Tournament.  Grandma and Papa Harkins are along for the ride.  We have laughed and cried together.  That will continue.

I can tell I am in a better state of mind today as my music is working well this morning.  Bill Withers Lovely Day just shuffled up;

When the day that lies ahead of me
Seems impossible to face
When someone else instead of me
Always seems to know the way

Then I look at you
And the world's alright with me
Just one look at you
And I know it's gonna be
A lovely day

Wednesday February 22, 2012

It's a good thing I ran all my errands yesterday - because my car won't start this morning! Luckily, I have good friends who will jump in their car at 7:15am to come get Erin and get her to school. (Erin might feel differently about that!)

So, I'm sitting here waiting for AAA and I'm not that worked up about it. I'm hoping it's something minor and it's only a car and it's only money, right? Ah, perspective - you are a new companion and I kind of like you ...

Grandma and Papa Harkins arrive in Rochester today. They came to MN for some grandkid activities including Laurynn's band concert in Shakopee earlier this week and Erin's basketball tournament in Rochester this weekend. We're looking forward to showing them our room remodel and having some time together. February is speeding by and that's always a good thing here in Minnesota...

President's Day

We did our best to make the most of this long weekend by taking a road trip to the Wisconsin Dells.  As surreal as it still seems, it's time to develop a new pattern now that Erin is an only child, so Erin's pal Emily joined us on our adventure.

We rode the body slides and the tube rides and floated on the lazy river. Dan and the girls even convinced me to go with them on The Hurricane: a family raft ride that drops you 58 feet into a funnel where you go back and forth like you are in a half pipe. My stomach hasn't felt quite right the rest of the day!

So, another first. Away for some family fun. A threesome now. Plus one, this time. So far, so good. Emily was easy and Erin was happy.

Sunday February 19, 2012

Dan and I are sitting in a hotel room in the Wisconsin Dells - and we are crying like babies because the Rebels season lives on. We couldn't be prouder of those girls. We've been receiving text updates all day as the Rebels faced two elimination games in the District 9 Tournament. After a tight 1-0 victory over Dodge County this morning, the Rebs had to face Mankato on their home ice this afternoon with the winner advancing.

As we sat at Kalahari watching Erin and her pal Emily enjoy the waterpark, our minds and hearts were focused on those girls on that sheet of ice in Mankato. After jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first period, the Rebs had to hang on at the end to come away with a 3-2 victory. We heard that the girls gave a thumbs up raised to heaven during the post game celebration. Well done girls, well done...

So Dan and I find ourselves so happy and proud and yet aching so badly, selfishly, for our loss. Shannon would have been over the moon. I can picture her big brown eyes all aglow as she would have recounted each shift and how dicey it was out there. I can just picture it. And yet, it wasn't meant to be for us. But, our hope was for Shannon's last hockey team to extend their season and that's exactly what they did. Those 15 girls have been through so much this season and they've persevered - together. The Rebels will fight with all their heart until the end. Just like Shannon...

Friday night February 17, 2012

The Rebels win!  Friday night at the District 9 Tournament our squad beat Fairmont 2-1 to keep the season alive.  Damn, we should be there - we should be partying with those families at the hotel in Mankato.

With a win Saturday the Rebels will advance to the next round - a region tournament in 2 weeks in Waseca.

Personally, I'm not ready for the last hockey season Shannon will ever be a part of to come to an end.  In a card we received today, someone referred to the six degrees of Shannon.  With each passing of seasons, school years, holidays, Mondays...with each day that passes we are further separated from her life.  You can tell me all day that she will always be part of us - and she will - but with each sunset and sunrise the space between her days on earth and today grows wider.

My music has not been fulfilling me lately.  The songs that were bringing me strength and hope and generating emotion are now leaving me feeling empty, bored.  I'm trying some Pandora Internet Radio tonight as we relax in our new family living space.  It's pretty sweet.  We have a contractor named Mark Borgen.  You might need to keep him in mind if you are looking for any remodel projects.  Anal and affordable.  Here's what I look like in our new space tonight;

Erin is back behind the bench with Coach Lang's Mayo Spartans tonight filling water bottles with her friend Lexi as the Mayo boys take on Mankato West. Sunday we will sneak her away for a couple days with BFF Emily for some water park fun in the Dells.  Trying to keep her moving in a positive direction - giving her some things to look forward to.  Erin has been stringing together some better days. 

Jen and I attended her school conferences Thursday and the reports we were given left us hopeful that she is doing OK.  Can you imagine being Erin?  She has to walk by Shannon's locker every day - she has to see Shannon's friends sitting together across the lunchroom and every day she has to see all of the teachers that loved Shannon. Every once in awhile I need to take a look at the world through her glasses.  And she's just 10.

So if you have an extra prayer tonight when you lay your head down have a good thought for Erin O'Hara.  And a good thought for the Rebels to beat Northfield Saturday and keep the season alive.

St. Jude Radiothon

If you are listening to the radio these next two days (Feb. 16 & 17), check out 102.5 The Fox country here in Rochester. You can listen on your radio dial or online.

They are raising money and awareness for St. Jude. It's a fundraiser by country radio stations all across the nation. Dan and I taped an interview with local D.J. Julie Jones that will air over the next two days.

Dr. Wetmore has reminded us that St. Jude is the only NCI designated comprehensive cancer center for children in the country. The large volume of patients they see makes it possible to move from laboratory discoveries to clinical trials within a single institution.

If you want to listen in or donate, here's the link: http://www.1025thefox.com/main.html

Tuesday February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day. Today is the first of many "firsts" when it comes to holidays. Good to start with a minor one, in my opinion. (Dan will be happy to read that I consider this a minor holiday, because he didn't get me anything. I shouldn't throw him under the bus - I didn't get him anything either!)

I did my usual mommy ritual of having a gift bag of goodies to surprise our children - our child - when she woke up today. I have to admit that shopping for only one of each thing was hard - I am in the habit of buying two ...

Dan and I have found ourselves missing Shannon, missing her physical presence. I suppose as time passes and we get further away from her actual time here on Earth, we will struggle to keep those images of her as a living, moving being in our mind's eye. Dan had a vivid memory of her striding ahead of us through the Gonda Building at Mayo, confident and assured as she headed off to another appointment. I was walking Sunny on the golf course yesterday and I could picture Shannon focusing on hitting the golf ball and reacting with a big smile when she hit a good shot. (Interesting that my memory chose that image instead of the frustrated look she would get when the golf ball didn't cooperate!)

I can never say that 13 years with Shannon was enough, but it has to be. That's what we had, and it was wonderful, and we made the most of it. Isn't that our hope as humans - to make the most of our time on this earth and live a good life? She did. And so I struggle to make peace with that thought. It has to be enough so that we can continue on our journey and not be stuck wanting something that can never be again... We know that intellectually, and yet emotionally we ache and miss her so.

Being a glutton for punishment, I am spending today organizing and putting away the cards, letters and gifts we've received over these past few weeks. Actually, re-reading the many kind words seems appropriate today. Of course, it is painful and heartwarming at the same time. Oh, sweet Shannon. In your short time on this earth, you did good.

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

Sunday night

Music's big night to celebrate and remember got off to a rousing start with The Boss showing - once again - why he's one of the best live performers ever.  After Bruce's We Take Care of our Own grabbed the audience's attention - LL Cool J stepped up and offered an incredibly appropriate and heart felt prayer to recognize a "death in the family".  Whitney...oh Whitney...

So with Erin and Jen locked in on the Grammy's I snuck into seclusion to write about a really pretty terrific weekend.  We hung out with friends, skated, took in a Rebels playoff game, went to church, hung out with family and watched as Erin's Spartan 6th graders took down the Owatonna Invitational.  Way to go Smiley!

Over the course of three Spartan wins Sunday, Erin logged minutes at all 5 positions - including post and point guard.  No wise cracks, please.  Of course, she's the first O'Hara ever to play the post...come to think of it...she's the first O'Hara ever to run the point (not counting her mom who was not yet an O'Hara when she played point guard for the Rochester John Marshall Rockets a million years ago).  Good Yucks.  Good wins.  More hardware for Smiley's Spartans.

Saturday night when I tucked her into bed,  Erin expressed a slight tinge of guilt for laughing and having fun.  But I know Shannon would approve.  I know it.  Still, it is odd to separate from the sadness.  Even for a short time. We all know that separation is temporary. 

I wanted to take a minute to update various fund raising efforts that we are grateful to associate with and proud to have Shannon O'Hara's name attached to...
  •  The paperwork has been submitted to establish an account for the Shannon O'Hara RYHA Scholarship Fund.  If you want you can send us a check made out to the fund and we will get you tax documents.  But we will also need RYHA to accept donations on our behalf for monies raised through the sale of goods and services.  Our goal for The Shannon O'Hara RYHA Scholarship Fund is to begin awarding grants in 2013.  Lots of work to do to get this account fully funded.
  • A friend, Darla Hershey is a consultant for a group called Partylite which sells scented candles and other cute little home trinkets.  She will be having an Expo on February 18th and 19th and 50% of her funds raised will go to the Shannon Scholarship Fund.  Darla can be contacted at hershey13300@hotmail.com or you can friend her on Facebook.
  • Jen and I taped a radio interview with Julie Jones on Fox Country 102.5 to talk about St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital  - this station is doing a Country Cares for St. Jude's radio-a-thon February 18th and 19th. Check out www.1025thefox.com for more donation details...
  • There is another local group raising funds for St. Jude's - and we are humbled that they have asked us to allow them to name their event for Shannon.  The Zumbro Valley Bassmasters is part of a group that has been raising money for various causes for 14 years.  They recently started directing all their monies to St. Jude's.  In 2011 they wrote St. Jude's a check for $152,000! Mark March 31st on your calendar for the 7th Annual Spring Fundraiser - this year honoring Shannon O'Hara. The banquet will be held at the Rochester International Events Center and tickets are $40...raffles...door prizes...silent auction items...even some Shannon shirts for sale...and a great meal delivered by Joe Powers team.  Contact Dick Dorman for banquet ticket info....coosa216@msn.com ... or 507-951-4294 ... March 31...they have room for about 400 so hurry...
The kid said she wanted her life to mean something to someone someday...

The cards, notes and reminders keep trickling in to us from people that knew Shannon and many that didn't but have been impacted by her life.  I wanted to leave you tonight with an excerpt from a neighbor's note to us about Shannon...it just came today...and it touched us very much;

"Even from my distance, this whole episode has been a tragic reminder that love is always a setup for heartache. It hurts to fall in love with someone who doesn’t love you back. It hurts when your teenage kids push your love away for the independence they need to take on life without you. And, it dearly hurts when someone you love dies. But, this untimely loss of your precious little girl who seemed to embody all of life’s most positive energies in one tiny package is too much to bear alone. That’s what I’m trying to say: you do not suffer alone. No one can help the fact that you bear the most pain, but Shannon is missed by people she was barely even aware of in her wonderfully busy life.  

I think love is worth the pain, though. I hope you can feel that way. I’m profoundly thankful to you for bringing Shannon into our lives, and bringing so much happiness to hers. Shannon enriched everything and everyone around her. She still does."

Friday February 10, 2012

This week has been an up and down and up and down and up and ... well, you get the idea. It is a such a strange roller coaster that we three are on. Even living together, Dan, Erin, and I don't seem to be in the same place at the same time on this journey. I may awaken feeling ok only to have Erin stare into her bowl of cereal, not sure she can face the day. Or Dan may return home from a productive meeting feeling motivated only to find that I have been sitting in the same chair reading the same book for hours. We continue to try to cut each other slack and accept that this journey is different for each of us.

That includes the outside world. I read a book this week (I'm just going to keep reading until I figure this all out!) written by 9 mothers who had lost their own children and they came to call people who had not experienced the loss of a child "civilians". It is important for Dan, Erin and I to accept that the "civilians", no matter how much they care about us, can never completely understand. It's not their fault. You must live it to know it...

This week we've spent a lot of time talking with Erin, talking to Erin, and forcing Erin to talk. She's fed up with it - in fact one night this week, she called me on my b.s. and then she said point blank to me "See, I can just be my own psychologist." Oh boy. But, we're not going to let her shut down - we're going to be diligent and persevere. When she's angry and we're vulnerable, that's a bad mix. But, we all know it and we get through...

Emotions lie just under the surface - often times there is no explanation or warning. Today I laughed so hard that I cried. We were being silly at Target and things just got away from me ... then I felt guilty for laughing. Earlier today, I opened a cupboard and came across Shannon's hockey water bottle. All taped up with her hockey tape and her name on it in her printing. I couldn't bring myself to throw it out. As I put it away with her things, it made me cry ... then I felt silly for crying over a water bottle. Sometimes its the little things ...

Grief work has no rules. Whatever we feel, we feel and we have to just be ok with it. We must be kind and gentle with ourselves as best we can. Within the confines of our home, that's not too difficult. But, out in the real world, that's a whole different animal. Nobody wants to have a breakdown in the grocery store. And, we're not always prepared to see people who give us "the look". We have come to know the nod, the sad eyes that say, "Oh boy, you guys had a really bad thing happen to you." We do our best to smile and say hello...

Some positive things did take place this week. Good progress on the remodel. One week from right now, I plan to be lounging in our new space. We also will be posting more information soon about fundraising efforts that we are a part of for St. Jude and also information on the Shannon Scholarship Fund. (This is a shameless tease so you have to keep reading!)

The most positive news of all came today from my friend Mike. The mass that showed up on his CT scan last Sunday turned out to be an infection and not a brain tumor as originally thought. A four hour surgery yesterday at St. Mary's removed the infection that was behind his left eye, eating away a part of his skull, and pressing against his brain. I spoke to him this afternoon and while brain surgery is no picnic, he's relieved to not be heading on a journey that no one wants to take ...

Thursday February 9, 2012

Smiley was all fired up this morning - a 6th grade field trip to the Brownsdale Roller Rink will do that to a kid.

Our daily meditation entry offered this nugget;  Light griefs can speak; great ones are dumb

Our reflex is to feel the need to carry conversation - to make sure the flow of it goes well so that everyone is comfortable in our presence.  Today's reading highlighted the fact that sometimes the silence is golden and it is not our responsibility to talk.  Especially, to talk about the grief issues that are bogging us down. 

As a former broadcaster turned sales guy that is really hard.  Dead air makes me uncomfortable, makes us uncomfortable.  But it is OK.  And carrying the conversation is not our job.  Our job is to find a "new normal".

So be on guard to listen.  Sometimes I might go off if you give me your ear.  But if I don't talk I'm not mad at you.  And please, no worries.

Tuesday February 7, 2012

I am happy to report that today was less shitty than yesterday! Actually, today felt like progress. Progress on the work front for Dan as he organized his travels for the rest of the month. Progress on the home front as I checked things off the to do list. Progress on the emotional front as Dan and I each lunched with a friend and shared some thoughts and feelings. Progress for Erin as she also shared her feelings in a less angry manner. Even some progress on the family room as paint started going up on the walls. So far, we are really happy with what we see ...

We've started thinking about our happiness level, for lack of a better term. We know we will never go back to the carefree joy that we used to have - something we now describe as our 100% happiness level. But, what level can we get to? 70%? 80%? Really hard to quantify. We are helping Erin come to terms with the fact we can't go back, and our lives will never be the way they once were. But, we can work our way back to some level of happiness. We can cope. We can persevere. It will be a slow climb, with steps forward and sometimes back, but we have to have hope that we will again find happiness in our lives. And it will be a new kind of happiness, hard earned. We have to believe we can get there.

Monday February 6, 2012

Today I would have to put in the shitty column. Pardon my language. The one month anniversary was going to be a tough day, but more so than I expected. We were rocked today with news that a friend of ours - a man in his early thirties - had a seizure yesterday and a preliminary CT scan showed a tumor in his brain. Oh, how we are feeling for him in these early days of trying to get your bearings and figuring out what's ahead. He doesn't yet know the type of tumor or prognosis. We are holding some good thoughts for him...

Erin had an emotional weekend, and she was quiet this morning, but was doing better by tonight. We are lucky that our 10 year old is able to articulate her feelings. She is smart, but she is also wise. Yesterday we'd had a few blow ups with her through the course of the day, but by the time we lied down last night to tuck her in, she had calmed down and become more rational. She told Dan and I that she knew she was being mean and that she was angry and she just had a "zero tolerance" for any advice or comments from us. Wow. That's pretty much cut right through the bullshit, didn't it? Dan and I were using that as a catchphrase all day. It seems that there were a lot of things we had zero tolerance for today!

Emotion hits us at different times and in different ways. It got Erin this weekend with all the activity surrounding the Shannon Cup dedication. It got me as I walked Sunny around the golf course today and thought about Shannon. It got to Dan today when he had a tender moment with one of Shannon's best buds who had obviously been crying. We cannot escape it and we cannot deny it. We must persevere through it. The way out is in ...

Sunday February 5, 2012

Blogging about events that make the hairs on your arms stand up is impossible and unjust. It's just too hard to capture the energy.

So many times along our journey a day has come together in a way that the only possible explanation is that a Higher Power is in charge.

Diagnosis day, our first Sunday at St. John's with cancer, the day our families came together at the Med City 5K, the stormy night in South Haven, Michigan, water skiing at Lake Hubert, Christmas weekend with family, the final sunset and sunrise of Shannon's life on earth, the funeral walk around the reservoir and the service St. John's.

But of all those events, Shannon's favorite "hair-raiser" was the weekend it all came together for the Rebels at a hockey tournament in Hopkins, Minnesota. That weekend the Rebels won a tournament with Shannon's team winning two OT thrillers including a classic in the championship against the host team Hopkins.

Saturday's events at Graham Arena in Rochester would have to be added to that list.

Before the Rebels played Centennial, Shannon was honored with a ceremony that will rename the annual Rochester tournament "The Shannon Cup". The stands were packed with friends and family and people that have supported us along the way and people that just wanted to honor her - honor us.

Shannon's life - or the awakening that her life sparked - seemed to unite the Rochester hockey community. The girls on the 14A's hangin' out with the girls on the 12B's and 12A's - working together to collect donations. Parents collaborating to start the Shannon Scholarship and organizing fund raising events, T-Shirt sales, chuck-a-puck signage, volunteer schedules etc...

Jen, Erin and I were called onto the ice where the 14A's presented us with the Shannon Cup - their name already engraved on the trophy from last weekend. The 12A Ice Cats then presented us with a giant check (like the winner of a golf tournament is awarded) with the funds from last weekend's T-shirt sales and chuck-a-puck. Then a special surprise as the Rebels skated over to us a portfolio from Fidelity Charitable already funded through donations made by Rochester businesses to get the Shannon Scholarship account started.

What followed was a hockey game that reminded us all of the effort the Rebels gave that November weekend in Hopkins. The Rebels were out shot 32-2 against a bigger, faster team from Centennial. Shannon's teams played Centennial teams maybe four times over her hockey career and never won.

Saturday the Rebels skated to a thrilling 0-0 tie (round-robin pool play format). The Rebels played so hard -  forwards getting back to help out on D, the D cleaning up and making smart plays and goalie Claire Brunn was simply a beast. Incredible intensity. The shrieks from the stands on every close play...The hairs on our arms tingling...no doubt Shannon was there...

Centennial ended up winning the Shannon Cup in the 12B bracket.  A goal differential the tiebreaker - but Shannon's mates should feel great about how they are playing heading into the district playoffs. 

Impossible to send out thank you's to all the volunteers and folks that helped us get this fund started.  You know who you are. Thank you.

We will carry her name forward and start handing out the Shannon Scholarship in 2013.

Saturday February 4, 2012

Another Friday has come and gone and I wonder how long I will do "the count" on Friday mornings: it has now been 4 weeks since Shannon's passing ...

Erin made it through a full week of school - I wasn't sure that would happen with they way things were going this week, so it's a hell of an accomplishment on her part. We spent Friday afternoon doing some shopping as Erin has been growing like a weed and growing out of her clothes. Then Dan and I took her to see some furniture we like for the family room and it got Erin's stamp of approval as well. After that, we let Erin pick a dinner destination and the three of us celebrated making it through another week.

This week was a pretty emotional one as we try to find balance between being social and solitude. We need some of each and what we want depends on the day or the hour or the minute. We have heard from all our close family and friends that they would do anything for us, if they just knew what to do. You cannot take our grief away, but you shouldn't pretend it isn't there. It will lessen in time, but it is a process we must go through and there is no timetable. The future is unknowable as we have learned...

We had some good chats at dinner about what's ahead this weekend. Today we will go and watch the Rebels play in their home tournament. Before the game this afternoon, there will be a dedication ceremony as all the Rochester Youth Hockey girls tournaments have now been named "The Shannon Cup". This weekend, not only do the 12B's play, but the 12A team and two 10B teams are also playing their home tournaments and competing for the cup. We are off and running with a fundraising effort so that starting next year, we can give scholarships to graduating seniors in Shannon's memory. We want to be able to pay it forward and honor Shannon's spirit in this way.

I awoke this morning thinking that Shannon would have been so pumped for this weekend. Damn. Little bits of heartache each day as we carry on ... Hopefully balanced out by little bits of joy as we move forward.

Go Rebels!

Wednesday February 1, 2012

The family room remodel carries on. Things must be torn down to be built back up again: the fireplace has been demolished, paneling covered up, walls skimmed, and carpet torn out. Chaos often proceeds progress...

A metaphor for our lives? Possibly. The three of us are doing some serious deconstructing - we are in a period of chaos. We are doing the tough work of sharing our emotions and thoughts and fears with each other in the hopes that we can make progress - progress towards fulfillment, contentment, and hopefully, some happiness.

Erin has been emotional this past week, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. She is willing to share her feelings with Dan and I, although sometimes we are not quite ready to receive the full brunt of them! Some days, we barely have the mental capacity to deal with our own emotions. But, on the bright side, Erin's not bottling things up or shutting us out. She's telling us when she's mad or sad or lonely. She's dealing as best as any 10 year old could. It's almost too much to bear, but there is no other option. So, she carries on.

She admitted to us that going to school is really difficult. Passing by Shannon's locker or seeing Shannon's group of friends - those things are really hard for E. But again, what are the options? She has to go to school. So, we make her get up each day and try to keep moving forward.

The chaos in our hearts and minds means we are grieving, but the fact that we manage each day to go out into the world and do the best we can means we are coping. There is no right way. Even baby steps can add up, and eventually you get where you want to go.

We've been reading a daily meditation as a family each morning over breakfast. Today's passage: "The man who removed mountains began by carrying away small stones" - Chinese proverb