Tuesday July 14, 2015

This past weekend, Barbara Park died. She succumbed to ovarian cancer at age 66.

If you raised kids in the 1990's, this name will ring a bell. Park was the author of the "Junie B. Jones" books, written about a smart-mouthed girl with opinions about everyone.

Titles like "Junie B. Jones and the Stupid, Smelly Bus" and "Junie B. Jones and That Meanie Jim's Birthday" certainly grabbed kid's attention. Kids loved these books. Shannon loved these books. IT was the first time they got to read something a little controversial. Kids weren't allowed to say mean things out loud, but Junie B. sure could think them!

I remember Shannon reading and laughing about the sassy girl who was narrating the stories. Shannon and Erin loved when Dan and I would take a turn reading the books out loud so we could all laugh together. That's a sweet memory for me.

Now kids Shannon's age are making college visits. Through golf, volleyball, hockey and our foundation, we still have contact with so many of Shannon's classmates. This is their senior year. Those kids who grew up reading Junie B. Jones are prepping for the next stage of life.

The heartache of what we are missing will never go away. Something as simple as a children's book author passing away can trigger a memory and make me remember our loss. Dan, Erin and I share Shannon memories all the time, but sometimes the memories we didn't get to make creep in and grab me.

Life is good, and yet, there will always be a piece missing. Dan, Erin and I constantly have to reconcile that in our own minds. We can be happy - we are happy - but something will always be missing.

This year will be tough. Watching Shannon's peers choose their colleges and graduate from high school will not be easy. We will miss her and we will miss the idea of who she might be now. One can only imagine what that Junie B. Jones loving girl might have turned out to be...