Sunday August 9, 2015

I'm up this morning, digging through the pile of paperwork on my desk. One of the items on my to do list, is to prepare checks for our three scholarship winners. Yes, it's time to think about back to school and for our scholarship recipients, that means off to college. This is one of the best parts about running the foundation - getting to see the hard work and generosity of others turn into something tangible. It's a great way to carry on Shannon's spirit.

Shannon's friends are not quite ready for college, but they are going to start their senior year in just a month's time. This year is going to be a series of nicks on my heart. Watching each of Shannon's friends transition to the next stage is going to be hard. I see their senior picture and I think of a memory of them with Shannon back in elementary school. 

Just the other night, we saw a classmate of Shannon's out to dinner with his friends. When I see this kid, I always think back to fourth grade when Shannon told me "He dips everything he eats in ranch dressing." I found myself wondering if he still does... I suppose not. He has grown up a bit since then.

I find myself wanting to hold tightly to each of these memories. I don't ever want to forget any little detail of the time we had with Shannon.

I can't help but imagine what Shannon's senior pictures would look like... would she still like the color lime green?

I find myself trying to imagine what our family dynamic would be like now. Would Shannon be willing to drive her little sister around? I think so. Would they be friends in the best possible way? I hope so. Would they fight? Oh, I imagine so...

Erin is prepping for 10th grade. More territory that Shannon never covered. Erin is having to forge her own way. Would high school have been easier for E if she had been able to follow Shannon? Or, would it have been harder to be the second O'Hara girl coming through? Following Shannon's big personality and big energy might have been a challenge...

These are questions that allow for speculation, but no real answers. Just part of the giant game of "what if" that we will play for the rest of our lives.

So, school is still a month away, but I find myself prepping my armor to prevent those nicks on my heart. There's no way around it. Just gotta go through. And we will. Doesn't mean it will be easy, but we will accept this journey and as we watch the Class of 2016, we'll hope to see a little bit of Shannon in those who knew her.

I know I've written about this before, but I guess I'm a little bit shocked about how much it's affecting me. I knew it was coming and I though I was ready, but grief will not be planned and anticipated. You've got to just feel what you feel in each moment and accept it.

And, the impending school year is not all sadness. We get the joy of watching Erin grow up and forge her own way. That's what a parent wants. I'm very conscious to not spend so much time thinking of Shannon that I miss what's right here in front of me. How did Erin get to be a 10th grader already? 

So, we'll enjoy this last month of summer with Miss E. I do my best not to spend too much time worrying about how I'm going to feel about things. Just get up each day and live it.

"Sorrow comes in great waves... but it rolls over us and though it may almost smother us it leaves us on the spot and we know if it is strong, we are stronger, inasmuch as it passes and we remain." - Henry James