Sunday November 16, 2014

Some things are always going to be hard.  Like the kind of hard that hurts in your gut.  Watching girls HS hockey for the next couple of years is going to be like that.

Last night, we went to see the Century vs. Mayo girls game.  It would take all my fingers and toes to count the girls on the ice who played with Shannon.  I mean, these are Shannon's line mates now, playing real minutes in a varsity hockey game.  Girls who Shannon was equal to in ability. It's impossible not to project...

We sure miss those parents, too. There were lots of friendly faces in the crowd last night. People we spent weekends with in shitty hotels so we could watch our kids play.  People who rooted as hard for our kid as they did for their own.  We had some good yuks with those people last night, just like the good ol' days...

When we make eye contact with the girls out on the ice, we always get a smile.  They want us to be there.  They love seeing coach Dan there watching them play.  I hope when they look at us, they can see Shannon in their minds.

So, we really have two options - avoid going to the rink so we don't have to feel the pang of loss and sadness and emptiness.  Or, try to hold our chins up and go watch Shannon's friend play, knowing that's what Shannon would want, knowing it's the right thing to do.  Sitting home, avoiding it isn't going to make me feel better.

If I'm being completely honest, we went to the rink because we needed something, too.  We needed that look of acknowledgment from others that they remember.  That Shannon isn't forgotten.  That they know she should be out there.

It's a dance we will always have to do.  Giving and taking.  Knowing we have to honor Shannon and support her friends, but also needing to still feel included.  Knowing we want to see those girls grow and play and do the thing they all loved to do together, but also needing to see the hole that Shannon left.

I guess, going to the rink makes us feel -  we feel some happiness, some sadness, some support, some loneliness.  Truth is, we have to go.  We walk past her jersey and her memorial display and we can feel her there.  It's this mixture of pain and joy that's hard to articulate.  But it's real.

"The purpose of life is not to be happy.  It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well." - Ralph Waldo Emerson