Wednesday October 28, 2015

It seems that mortality and the circle of life have been very present for us lately. Maybe it's the changing seasons... Fall, more so than any other season, is about death and loss and the hope that you can weather what's ahead and come out the other side. That's kind of life, too.

Maybe it's the start of hockey season. Girl's HS hockey practice started this week. Shannon's senior year. Would she be a captain? I like to think so.

Maybe the death of Minnesota Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders got to us, too. Flip was too young - 60. Dan found himself thinking about Flip's family. How did they handle watching him fade away in those final days? Each time we hear of someone succumbing to cancer, we float back in our mind to our own journey.

I've been doing some reading lately that really brought food for thought.  I wanted to share this one with you. It comes from Still Standing Magazine, which is dedicated to surviving child loss and infertility. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Six Things I Wish People Knew About Grieving the Loss of a Child

One: Grief and Love are the same.
Please don’t think that because I am still grieving for my child even after all this time that there is something wrong me, or that I need to get over it. I grieve deeply for the loss of my child because I also love her deeply. Love never dies, therefore neither will grief.
Two: I will never get over it.
I may look like I finally got my life back together, I may have even gone on to have more children or embarked on a new career, but my child and the trauma of losing her is always one step behind. My tears may have dried, and I can probably utter my child’s name without breaking apart, but please know that I will never, ever get over the fact that she is gone.
Three: Silence is deafening.
I know it must be very difficult and confusing to know what to say to someone who has lost a child. I know how uncomfortable and unfathomable it must be to you, but please know that wrongly worded sentiments are easier to forgive than your silence. My world has forever been shattered, a simple “I’m sorry” will do.
Four: My child is irreplaceable.
It doesn’t matter when my loss may have occurred, whether it was an early miscarriage, or if I had the chance to spend a few moments with my child before she died. Babies are not interchangeable and any subsequent child born after is not replacement.
Five: I’ll always live in a parallel universe.
No matter how much time has gone by,  when an important holiday or occasion occurs, my mind is going to retreat into another universe where my child would have been present. I will calculate how old they would be and how they would look. This whole entire universe is something I hold on my own, so if you find me retreating inward during a significant day, please know that I am in that place that I share uniquely with my child and my imagination. It’s just how things are always going to be.
Six: I am forever changed.
The day my child died is the same day a big part of me died too. I won’t go back to being my usual innocent and carefree self again. It will take time for me to find myself, and return back home. But when I’ve figured out a way to put together all the broken pieces, I won’t look the same. Please understand that.

Tuesday October 20, 2015

More than a week has passed since I had time to write. I guess that's a good thing as life moves along and our jobs and activities keep us going forward.

We made the most of our fall break here in Rochester - volleyball, social events and some R & R filled up our weekend. We had friends over on Saturday night (yes, Dan and I do have friends) and it was fun to laugh... mostly at ourselves and our spouses.

I was reminded again that being around people who are comfortable when Shannon's name comes up is so important. It is our comfort zone, and we just have to be diligent about putting ourselves in the right situations. We are lucky to have so many good people in our lives.

Erin has been burning it at both ends, and it caught up with her yesterday. Home sick, missing school, volleyball and debate practice. She rallied today, and we'll see if she can make it through. This is the last week of the JV volleyball season, and then the focus turns to helping the varsity prepare for the section tournament.

I've been in the midst of organizing the concessions for the Mayo VB Invite that will happen this coming Saturday. Lots of moving parts and hopefully it all comes together and we make some money for the program.

Dan is off traveling again this week... nothing new there! Shake up in his industry is a constant, and his company was bought yesterday. All indications are that Dan's position will remain the same, but certainly some anxiety goes along with the change. Luckily, he's got a super supportive wife...

So, onward we go. We're trying to grind it out from now until Thanksgiving. It's good to have goals.

Monday October 12, 2015

I'm just back from my Monday morning workout. I had the crazy idea we should do our BLAST class not once, but twice a week. So, we go Friday afternoons and Monday mornings.

Pushing the sled with 45 lbs. on it up and down the hallways this morning just about did me in. Add to that, stairs, squats, walking planks... it's an approved form of torture...

I guess the goal is to be stronger, fitter, more able to enjoy life. I'm working on it...

We had a great weekend around here. Erin was keeping an insane schedule.

She came home from volleyball practice on Friday evening, and promptly fell asleep from 8-10pm. At 10, her debate partner showed up to prep for Saturday's debate. They stayed up until 1am, slept for 5 1/2 hours, and then were off to the debate competition from 8am-3pm. Home at 4, she slept until 6:30pm and then showered and went back to Mayo HS for the Student Government lock in Saturday night. They stayed up all night and upon returning home at 6am Sunday morning, she went right to bed until 1pm yesterday. She got up, showered, ate and went to her friends house to do homework until 9pm... the kid is hardly ever home...

I guess this is how it's suppose to be. She's doing her thing, checking in with us when she needs food, money or clean clothes.

Dan and I had a good weekend, too. After dropping Erin off at the lock in, we hit the town! OK, we went for a drink at one place, a late dinner at another and we were still home and in bed by 10:30...  but for people our age, that counts as a crazy night out!

Dan and I can both feel time moving quickly. Our jobs are busy, our kid is busy, it's hard to imagine that it will be different some day. But, we know it will. What will life look like when Erin is off at college? What will retirement look like for us?

Dan and I took advantage of 80 degree temps in October yesterday and played golf together. Is that something we can do in our golden years? I hope so. Like any good Minnesotan, we hope we can be snowbirds someday.

It's hard to imagine how life will play out. I guess that's the thing - you don't completely get to choose. Sure, you do the best you can each day to move in the direction you want to go. But, when life throws you off course, sometimes you need to make a new path.

My life will not be as I imagined. The loss of Shannon changed that forever. But, that doesn't mean it's not worth trying to get where I want to go...

Sunday October 4, 2015

Yesterday was a successful day all the way around. After dropping Erin off at her volleyball tournament, Dan and I were off to the 9th annual Brains Together For A Cure walk. Sadly, this is our 5th year attending the event - one with Shannon, four without...

But, there is strength in numbers and in sharing your story. My high school friend, who lost her dad. Another high school friend who lost her husband... and on and on...

We were pleasantly surprised at the turnout for Team Shannon. My brother Eric, Dan's brother Tim and wife Suzi, Shannon's friend, our friends, and Erin's best bud, Emily came even though Erin wasn't there. How cool is that? It's a day of community, gathering together to support those who are battling and to remember those we have lost.

Dan did a great job emceeing and we left there feeling that we had made some connections and helped the cause. Thanks to all who came out.

After a quick lunch, then it was off to catch the last three matches of the volleyball tournament. Erin's JV ran the table, winning the tourney be defeating a tough Century team in the championship. It's a fun group of girls and a fun group of parents. We are all lucky.

By all measures, yesterday was a good day. We honored Shannon, we cheered on Erin, we visited with family and friends. Tomorrow, Dan is off to visit his aging parents. Another week begins. That's life. The beat goes on...