Wednesday February 26, 2014

I have just finished dropping Erin off at school.  Driving these roads right now is a contact sport!  Between ruts in the road, spinning tires, and snowbanks up to the stop signs, well, it ain't easy.

February is going to end, very soon, and that's a good thing.

Dan's cousin passed on a link to an interview that Anderson Cooper did with Liam Neeson.  I am still always interested in hearing other people's take on grief, coping, moving on.

Neeson lost his wife to a tragic skiing accident five years ago, so the circumstances are different, but many of the things that he said still resonate with me.

He speaks of the people that come to help in a time of need.  That's part of what changed me forever.  I was playing tennis yesterday with my friends and we were laughing and it just felt so good right down to my soul.  I know that those relationships are different - better in some ways - because of my journey.  It's hard to explain, but that almost produces some guilt for me.  How can my life be so enriched by the people in my world when many of these relationships deepened because my world changed so tragically?

Anderson Cooper also made the valid point that everyone will deal with grief, deal with loss at some point in their lives.  Maybe that's why my relationships are deeper.  Maybe I have something to offer now as people navigate their lives.  Maybe this is why Dan, Erin and I have all found ourselves supporting people lately as they struggle with relationships, health, jobs, life...

The loss of Shannon changed our place in the world, changed who we are, changed how we relate to people.  I'd be lying if I didn't say some of this is for the better.  I don't know if I'll ever be able to reconcile that feeling - losing Shannon made me more fully human.

"Grief can be the garden for compassion" - Rumi 

Saturday February 22, 2014

We have reached the weekend and we have absolutely no agenda, which is just fine with us.  Actually, the roads are in the worst condition I've ever seen after our latest round of winter weather. We are very lucky that our getaways were last weekend and not this one!

Erin has been enjoying back to back snow days - staying up late, having sleepovers, and sleeping in.  She hasn't been a total slug - she's working on her research paper for English class.  Of course that paper makes me think of Shannon - it's the one she was working on every day in Memphis... until she couldn't.  She was so determined to finish it.  I've got that unfinished paper in a box of things I've kept.

While we've been shut in these past two days, we passed the time by watching the Olympic hockey games.  First, the women on Thursday and then the men on Friday.  Both teams suffered tough losses to Canada.  Erin watched with passing interest, but watching those games made us miss Shannon.  She would have been hanging on every shift, rooting hard for the US. She would have been crushed by the losses.

Dan and I joked with Erin last night that Shannon would have been so mad about the losses that she would have been in a bad mood and probably would have taken it out on her little sister!  We had a good chuckle about that...

I guess in some way, this is how we keep Shannon's spirit with us.  Imagining what she'd be like.  But who knows what she'd really be like.  Would she be different at this age?  Less emotional?  More emotional?  Would her interests have changed?  People aren't necessarily the same at 15 as they were at 13.

But, those are unanswerable questions for us, so we imagine Shannon the way we remember her.

A big thanks to all of you who took part in our Amazon Review Day.  We appreciate the support as we continue our work in the memory of that feisty 13 year old girl...

Amazon Review Day

Today's the day!

We want Amazon take notice of Determined to Matter.  If you've read the book and you have an Amazon account, log in and write a review today.  The more reviews we get, the more likely that the book will get noticed.

If you can spare a moment, follow this link and help us share Shannon's story:

Determined to Matter on Amazon

Many thanks to all our faithful supporters.

Monday February 17, 2014

We are feeling very lucky today to have escaped the winter weather this weekend.  (Sorry to all of you stuck in a winter storm...)  The weather here in Nevada and for Miss E in California has been beautiful.  We are feeling rejuvenated and ready to survive the rest of our winter back in MN.

Due to the convenience of modern technology, we have been staying on contact with Erin a few times a day.  Texting each other photos of what we are up to has been really fun.  It goes something like this:

"Shannon Shirts Around the World entry"

To which we replied:

"Vegas golf with my sweetie"

Erin kept it up with this photo from the Happiest Place on Earth:

We are all heading home today, and well aware that travel could be a challenge. Four different airports, two different highways, and then hopefully around midnight we are all back on Willow Lane.  

But, no matter what awaits us, our weekend getaways were well worth it.  Feeling grateful.

Valentine's Day

Operation Escape Winter is in full swing.  Erin and her "second momma" headed to California this afternoon and Erin has now been reunited with her buddy Ariana - and Tommie Trojan - on the USC campus.

Erin told me very politely this week that she was excited to be going somewhere without me.  She said "We spend A LOT of time together!"  True enough.

As for Dan and I ... it's been a little work getting here, but we are on our way to Vegas.  Dan actually bought the tickets last minute - as in today!  I returned home from my MSP drop off to find out that we were really going.  It's been an on again off again thing all week, and I went to bed last night feeling sorry for myself because it didn't look like it would happen.    

Now, we had to drive 3 1/2 hours to Sioux Falls to catch an Allegiant Flight, but after this winter, we'd do anything to know what 78 degrees feels like.  So, after having a nice dinner at Minerva's in downtown Sioux Falls, I am writing this blog from the airport and I am fairly confident that we will be in Vegas later tonight. 

I told Dan this might be our best Valentine's Day ever.  He told me he'd do anything to make me happy :)  Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.

Monday February 10, 2014

I know I sound like a broken record, but it was -11 when I drove Erin to school this morning.  Really?  I asked Dan if I'm allowed to retire and move south even if I don't have a job... (By the way, I'm working on that.  Still hopeful for an opportunity to use my skills...)

For now, we have no choice around here but to continue to bundle up and get through the days.  The weekend was busy -  catching up on work for Dan, volleyball and homework for Erin, tennis, laundry and taxi service for me.  Everything that needed doing got done, and we are ready for the week ahead.

At least this week provides the prospect of getting out of town for a few days.  Dan and I are working on a last minute get away possibility.  Miss Erin already has travel plans that are set in stone - Friday she will head to LA to visit her friend, Ariana, who is a freshman at USC.  Dan and my only concern is that Erin won't want to come home and will convince someone that she should be admitted to the university immediately!

Erin is quite excited to see Ariana - her big sister from another mother - and experience another college campus.  This one just happens to be located in close proximity to the beach and Disneyland.  When in Rome...

But, it's only Monday.  There is work to be done.  Time to get moving...

Wednesday February 5, 2014

This has been a week of forcing myself to do all the paperwork stuff that's been piling up on my desk. I've been putting away files from the Shannon Cup and scholarships, making notes of changes to me made and ways to improve.

I've just finished writing this month's SOF newsletter (I hope you are on the distribution list - I used a new format that's pretty cool.) And, today,  I forced myself to get our tax stuff together.

I always pull out the previous year's tax return for comparison and that provided a gut shot this afternoon.  There on line 6a of our 2012 return was Shannon's name, social security number, and relationship to us:  Daughter.  Dependent.

 2013 will be the first year that the government - for tax purposes - doesn't recognize Shannon.

I know this is a silly little thing, but it got to me.  She's further in the past every day.

We were at the Mayo basketball game the other night and looking into that student section is hard.  It seems her friends and classmates are becoming young adults so quickly.  I still catch myself when I see them around - I'm always looking for their parents to say hello.  Then I remember, they are driving themselves everywhere these days.  No parents needed.  

Mayo's Sweetheart Dance is next week.  I can't help but wonder who Shannon might have asked.  Do you think she would have had any trouble getting a boy to go with her?  I wish I could see it...

This is all just my mind playing games with me.  Wishful thinking.  Projecting to what might have been.  Not necessarily productive for me, but sometimes I can't help myself.

So, I've been listening to good music, working around the house, and working to just accept what is, what will never be, and what may yet come.  I feel sad sometimes, but I'm alright.  Yes, grief and recovery is definitely a wobbly figure 8...

Some of the music on my iPod this week has really been reaching me.  I've had a nice mix of bands and artists:  Lorde, A Great Big World, The Lumineers, Of Monsters and Men.  Lots of good stuff there, so check them out.

But my favorite has been the album "All the Little Lights" by Passenger (which is just the stage name for a British singer-songwriter named Michael David Rosenberg.)  You might recognize his song Let Her Go from the cute puppy love Budweiser Super Bowl ad.

All the songs on this album are worth a listen, but my favorite might be Holes:

Well sometimes you can't change and you can't choose
And sometimes it seems you gain less that you lose
Now we've got holes in our hearts, yeah we've got holes in our lives
Where we've got holes, we've got holes but we carry on

Monday February 3, 2014

The winter season of fundraising came to a close yesterday.  The Shannon Cup events were even more successful this year than last, and the legend of Shannon and her story are being carried on by a new group of girls.

Most of these 10 and 12 year olds never met Shannon, but they know her story now.  They know her favorite color and lime green could be seen on ribbons in their hair and tape on their helmets and sticks.  Everyone had lime green laces.  One of the goalies even lined her pads with lime green tape.  Heck, even the other teams got into the spirit as we saw the White Bear Lake team sporting Shannon stickers on their helmets.  Cool.

We also watched our friend's daughter play wearing Shannon's equipment.  Margaret has finally grown into Shannon's gear, and she wears it with pride.  Much better to see that helmet out on the ice than sitting in a closet...

Dan, Erin and I took in a dozen games this weekend, trying to catch each Rochester team playing. Yesterday, while watching a game, a group of girls came up to us.  Dan said "hello" and they asked, "Are you Shannon's dad?"
"Yes, I am."
"Cool.  We just wanted to meet you."

These are the girls that will help us continue our mission now that Shannon's peers are aging out of youth hockey.

We visited each of these teams during their practice earlier this week to wish them well in their tournaments and tell them a little bit more about Shannon.  How she loved hockey, but she really loved being a good teammate.  That's what mattered to her most.  If they want to be like Shannon, they should work hard on the ice and be nice off it.

These teams wanted to win the Shannon Cup so badly.  You could see it in victory - the elation of the 12B Rebels after winning the championship in overtime.  And, you could see it in defeat - the tears flowing from the 10B team after losing their championship game in overtime.

We were there to hand out medals and trophies, give high fives to winners and hugs to those who felt defeat.  It was really fun for us to see these girls play.  Definitely brings back so many good memories for me and Dan.

So, that wraps up our hockey fundraising events for the year.  The Shannon Fund is now at $48,000.  We are humbled and grateful.  Thank you.