Monday March 18, 2013

It was another slippery drive this morning as I dropped Erin off at school.  2 to 4 more inches of snow are suppose to fall here today, adding to our snow pack that's already a foot deep.  Ugh.  This is the time of year where we Minnesotans transition from feeling like we are strong and hearty for withstanding these winters, to realizing we might be a little bit stupid for living in this climate!

Spring will come...

Yesterday was a day filled with emotions for the three of us.  We spent the morning and early afternoon watching Erin and her friends play in a volleyball tournament here in town.  This is such a good group of girls and they absolutely love being together.  Erin was all smiles.

In the evening, we attended a benefit for a woman who is in the final stages of a five year battle with breast cancer.  This community is amazing and the support she was receiving reminded us of the support we have received throughout our journey.  It is sad, this cancer journey, but good friends can help lighten the load.  We know that firsthand.

Amidst all this, our minds were wandering to an ice rink up in Eden Prairie.  The Cannons - Shannon's hockey buddies - were competing in the State Tournament for their level.  This is the end of the season tournament, and a chance to go out on top.  As the 4th seeds, the Cannons would need some magic...

After winning their quarterfinal game on Friday, they faced top seeded and home team Eden Prairie on Saturday.  EP had an undefeated season and had beaten the Cannons twice.  On this day, it was the Cannons turn.  A 2-0 victory behind stellar goaltending put the Cannons into the championship game.

In Sunday's championship, they would face another nemesis, Edina.  On St. Patrick's Day, maybe with the help of a little Irish angel, The Cannons brought home a state championship.  For those of you unfamiliar with MN Youth Hockey, this is a big deal.  To the best of our knowledge, a Rochester team hasn't won one since the mid 1980's and no girls youth team has ever been a state champ.

So, Dan and I were over the moon with joy, and incredibly heartsick at the same time.  As we kept checking for live updates during the championship game, we were both so nervous.  And when the game went final, we felt such happiness.  And such pain.  It's still unbelievable sometimes that Shannon's not here...

Upon the Cannons victorious return to Rochester, there was an impromptu party and they invited us to join in.  Oh, man, seeing those girls and those parents - more joy and more heartache.  We miss those people.  We jumped right in and heard the stories from the weekend and reminisced about past seasons.  So many happy memories for us with those people.

We still feel connected and yet, we are getting further away.  More memories are being made.  Memories without Shannon.  A whole season has passed.  That part is hard.  We feel joy and pride for the Cannons, and a little bit of pity for ourselves.

As we were feeling these conflicting emotions yesterday, Dan and I kept reminding ourselves that this wasn't about us. We see Shannon in these girls and we can't help but live vicariously through them on some level.  But, we can't expect others to live out Shannon's dreams.  We can't ask that of Erin, and we can't ask that of Shannon's friends.  We want Shannon to inspire others, not be a burden to them.  We want her memory to bring them peace, not pressure.  This is a tricky thing for Dan and I to navigate, and some days we struggle with it more than others.

When we arrived at the party last night, Dan, Erin and I were welcomed as part of the gang, and there were hugs and high fives all around.  It felt very much like we were a part of this team in some cosmic way.  We are proud of the young women those girls are becoming.  We are proud of the bond they share and the kindness they show each other.  We can feel Shannon when we are with her teammates, and, while it's not about us, we are proud that they all seem to carry a little bit of #9 with them every time they hit the ice.

State Champions, baby!  Well done, girls.