Sunday September 30, 2012

These past few days have provided us with some of that gorgeous fall weather that reminds us why we live in Minnesota.  Cool nights, warm days, and brilliant colors on the landscape.  We feel more acutely aware of these things, grateful for what we can see and feel and experience.

Shannon's hockey buddies are all in the midst of hockey tryouts.  It's an excruciating time - for parents and kids alike!  We received some sweet text messages and Facebook posts from several of the girls, remembering Shannon, missing her.  One friend commented that she was missing Shannon's positive attitude out there on the ice and another friend wore her Shannon shirt so that Shannon could be there in spirit.  So sweet and dear... and painful.  A year ago, Shannon was there, fighting off the fatigue of a post-chemo week and giving it her all.

This week will also be homecoming week at Mayo High School.  Again, there will be friends missing our girl, and we will be missing her, too, as another rite of passage passes without her.  We remember very clearly having a conversation with Shannon last year where she talked about how fun homecoming week is and that it will be "even better next year when I'm in high school".  I still find myself wondering how can it be that she is not here?

So, we are feeling this convergence of people and events and it seems that our memories of Shannon are all around us.  Erin's volleyball team played in a tournament here in town yesterday.  It warms our hearts to watch Erin out there having fun and working hard.  She is enjoying being a Spartan.  All four local high schools were playing in the tournament, so there were lots of Rochesterites around.  We saw people from church, former tennis students of mine, and former hockey teammates of Shannon.  Lots of conversations, and much of it centered on Shannon.  One of the lessons we've learned from writing this blog, is that everyone has a story.  People suffer loss and heartache and people search for meaning and perspective.

By sharing this piece of our world, we've opened up the lines of communication in a way.  People share a bit more of themselves with us now.  What a gift that is.  What a nice way to live, knowing that no one is alone, that we all struggle, and that people can persevere and maybe, along the way, become stronger and wiser.

I was reading this week about the progression of grief and the turning points along the way.  Things like anniversaries and songs aggravate the pain and loss and that may always be so.  But, with experience and through time, we can learn to treasure these memories and see them as reminders of the things that make up our lives.  All that has happened to us - each of us - becomes a part of us.  Some of it is bad, some of it is good, but all of it is ours.  There's no denying it and no escaping it, so we need to do our best to accept it.

The sun is up and shining now.  It's another beautiful autumn day here in our corner of the world...