Sunday November 9, 2014

We are home this morning and prepping for the first snowfall of the season.  Erin is preparing by hibernating in her bed as long as possible.  I am preparing by going to the grocery store.  Dan is preparing by playing one more round of golf...

We've had a great weekend together.  Three days at the volleyball tournament meant lots of time together for our threesome.  While the Spartans didn't finished quite has they had hoped, the experience of watching those girls compete was wonderful.  Dan and I reminded Erin that it's pretty special to be a part of a successful program.  In her three years of playing, Erin has seen Mayo get to three section finals and two state tournaments.  She hopes she's a part of that some day.

After the tournament finished yesterday, we were able to attend a dedication ceremony for the late Henry Mackaman. Henry, is the son of Erin's cousin Maggie's husband, Doug.  (Got that??)  Henry was a student at UW- Madison when he contracted meningitis.  He passed away in April of 2013 at the age of 21.

We spent a little time getting to know Henry at family events, including Thanksgiving in that last year of Shannon's life.  I have a grainy, dimly lit photograph of Shannon and Henry on that day, sitting on a bench together, just being kids.

Yesterday, Henry's family and friends gathered at the Mississippi River to unveil a memorial bench erected in his honor.  It's a beautiful spot in St. Paul, and the sun shone down as Doug spoke so eloquently of his son.  He spoke of learning to live in the after.  He spoke of viewing everything moving forward through the lens of what has happened.  He spoke about us - me, Dan and Erin - and how we are there with him in this awful club.  ( I think he referred to it as the fu&*ed over club... I kind of like that :)  We shared some raw moments with Doug and Maggie and Henry's brother Owen when we traveled with them in London and Paris a couple of summers ago.  We have this bond with them now that none of us would ever wish for, but it was thrust upon us.

The truth is, all of us view the world through our previous life experiences.  Everyone can only draw from their own experience.  We don't know what we don't know, and when a major life event - good or bad - changes the way we see things, we can never put that genie back in the bottle.  When that life changing experience is the loss of a child, it is sometimes hard to come to peace with this new world view.  You'd give anything to not have it be this way.  And yet, here you are.  So, you find a way...

Doug spoke about so many things that hit close to home for us three.  We were glad we could be there to support and honor and remember.  Others have done that with us in our journey forward, and we know that sometimes, just being present is all you can do.  Henry would have turned 23 tomorrow.