Thursday October 23, 2014

Dan and I awoke yesterday in two different beds in two different cities, each having a version of the same dream.  Shannon playing hockey.  Dan could see her smiling through her facemask as he skated over to her on the bench.  She was in her happy place.

My dream was a memory of the last game Shannon played.  The Rebels were playing at Waseca just days before we were leaving for Memphis to head to St. Jude.  Shannon scored her only goal of that season spent playing with a brain tumor.  Late in the game, fatigued and probably feeling the effects on her balance, Shannon got run over by the biggest girl on the ice.  She got up smiling and after the game, her revisionist history turned the story into how she took the other girl down...

It's no surprise that these memories of Shannon are with us this week.  On Monday, Dan and I returned to Graham Arena for our first visit of the season.  The HS Girls Hockey season is beginning, and we are making the rounds, talking to each team about the foundation and handing out scholarship applications to this year's senior class.

We stopped to take a look at Shannon's display case.  Her jersey, her favorite stocking cap, those very skates she was wearing that night in Waseca.  We looked at the team picture of those Rebels, and then saw many of them sitting before us, now ready to play high school hockey.  Damn, they are growing up.  Over the next four years, every kid that played with Shannon will work their way through the high school programs.

So, we've talked to two girl's teams this week and will do a third next week as well.  After that, it will be the HS Boys turn.  It is important to have their support as we continue to work towards funding the scholarships in perpetuity.  We've got our first fundraising event set (Dec. 13th) and new Shannon gear is on the way.  (We're excited about the new hoodies that Erin helped design!)

So, we continue the work.  Hockey season is ahead.  It's good and hard and meaningful and painful.  Tears come to the surface with the pain of what Shannon never got the chance to do.  It's easy to feel the empty space where she should be when we are at the rink.  

Standing before these teams, our message is simple: we wish them luck and reminded them to enjoy every minute of it.  Work hard, be a good teammate, be a good friend.  In Shannon's world, they are living the dream.