Memorial Day 2016

It's been a wonderful weekend for us as we prep for the final two weeks of the school year. Our weekend involved:

  • Social outings for Erin each night
  • Dan running a half marathon
  • Graduation open house for Shannon's good friends Anna and Connor
  • Flower pots and landscaping work for Jen
  • Practice round for section golf tournament
  • Group decades project almost complete for Erin (They are still in the basement working on this as I write at 10pm!)
Dan ran his race in a Shannon shirt... hell most of our wardrobes are Shannon gear! He was pleased with his race, but mostly just happy to be done. The Med City marathon signals the end of his training... and the beginning of the "all golf, all the time" season...

Erin played a practice round at Cannon Falls Golf Club today. That's where the section meet will be this Thursday and (hopefully) next Monday.  I hope the girls can play their best when it counts.

The graduation party for Anna and Connor was nice. We like them and their families and it was important to us to be there. Of course, it's poignant, but we were able to remember that it's not about us. Our friends are sensitive to us and that feels good. We had fun... checked that box...

So today, I was planning to watch tennis and surf the web... but rain in Paris canceled the French Open today, so I tackled some planting, replacing a dead bush, trimming, mulching and planting my flower pots. It was a beautiful day and I got to work up a sweat doing some manual labor.

So, a good weekend all around. Sunshine, friends and family... life is good...

Wednesday May 25, 2016

25 years ago today, I graduated from college. The world was an infinite place of possibility...

Somewhere, deep down, I know it still is. I've got a lot more scar tissue now than I did then, but each and every day, there are still things to learn...

I find myself thinking about college a lot these days. Of course, Shannon's friends have made their choices and will be spreading out far and wide in the near future.

But, I'm thinking about it in terms of Erin, too. She has just 10 days left in her sophomore year of high school. And, once you are a high school junior, college begins to be a topic of conversation. Junior year is the time for tough classes, working for a good GPA and taking the ACT and SAT college entrance exams.

It goes so fast sometimes...

Erin and I went out and played a few holes together tonight after the afternoon rain.  Her meet today got canceled due to thunderstorms, so we had a rare afternoon at home. Erin might have even snuck in a nap.

But after the rain cleared, we jumped on the golf cart and played the O'Hara loop. That's what we call the group of holes closest to our house... in gym shorts and bare feet, E and I each played two balls and worked on our swings while we talked and laughed. It's so easy being with Erin... I am going to miss her when she's gone...

But, wait! That time isn't here quite yet, even if I can begin to see it out on the horizon...

25 years ago when I finished my schooling, I certainly wasn't thinking about being a mom, and I had no idea where that journey would take me... I was definitely still wondering what I was going to be and who I was going to become... I'd like to think I have a little more clarity about that now, but I still don't have it all figured out.

The good news is, at 46, I'm OK with not having it all figured out. The 21 year old me couldn't possibly understand that.

That's the thing about life, you learn what you need to know as you go... and growing older is not such a bad thing...

"Do not regret growing older... it is a privilege denied to many..."

Saturday May 21, 2016

Just a quick note today to celebrate the All City Champs... Mayo Girls Golf! Both Varsity and JV brought home the first place hardware. We had two of the top three finishers on the JV and we swept the medals for first, second and third on varsity, with Miss Erin bringing home the bronze.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day made all that much better by those in attendance. My dear friend Kula made her first public appearance since she's endured 16 rounds of chemo. 

The best news all week is that Kula's scans were negative - no signs of cancer meaning the best possible response to treatment so far. While she still has surgery in her future, she was feeling good and up for a walk around the back nine yesterday.

Erin might have had the biggest gallery ever in a high school golf meet: me, Dan, Uncle Mike and Aunt Connie, Kula, Ariana and Ariana's BF Tom all followed Erin yesterday! Oh, it was such fun...

Ariana was a Mayo golfer and watching Erin play brought back so many memories for both Ariana and Kula. They could laugh at me and Dan and our angst over watching Erin play. They've been there, done that. Ariana felt like she was looking in a mirror... Erin's mannerisms closely resemble a younger version of Miss A —the happy walk, the mad walk, playing too fast... it was all flashing back for Kula and Ariana! 

So, a great start to our weekend. Grateful for family and friends who support us. More fun ahead as today it's my turn to play golf. Life is good. Enjoy today...

Wednesday May 18, 2016

Yikes, it's been almost two weeks since I had the chance to blog. Let's just say I'm still getting a handle on working full time! I can't wait until I'm done with all the on-boarding activities that are required and I can get down to just doing my job...

Yesterday involved a two hour session on benefits. It was me and around 100 other new Mayo Clinic employees. I sat next to a young man in scrubs and during the break, I asked him where he would be working. He said, "I'm a radiation tech, so I'll be working at Desk R." He looked at me, wondering if I knew of Desk R... I didn't have the heart to tell him that I was intimately familiar with it...  not once, but twice...

It was his first day on the job and the last thing he wanted to hear is that while some patients are cured (like me), some are not (like Shannon). My mind wandered to this young man at the beginning of his career and the hope he has to help people. And he will. Just not all of them...

There are so many thoughts of Shannon these days as the seniors wind down to the end of their high school careers. Last weekend was Mayo prom, and our news feeds and timelines were filled with images of Shannon's friends and classmates all dressed up. You can't help but wonder, would she have had a date? A boyfriend? Would she have gone with a group of girlfriends? I wish I could just see what she looked like at this point in life...

I am mentally preparing for graduation, finding the strength and compassion to honor and celebrate these kids that I care about so deeply. They are a connection to Shannon in a way that I can't explain. When I see a classmate, I remember a memory of them with Shannon, a little snapshot from the past. I wonder if they feel the same when they see me...

Many of these kids continue to honor Shannon. We've had a few seniors do speeches or write papers about Shannon or the foundation. It is a part of their childhood, and for some it was a deeply profound experience.

I think that's why I fight to stay connected to these kids.

Yesterday, we were at Mayo High School to celebrate Erin at the Academic Awards breakfast. In addition to being on the debate team and student government, Erin was selected as the Hugh O'Brien Youth Leadership award winner. Here are the criteria:

  • Outstanding oral and/or written communication skills
  • Critical and/or creative thinking
  • Creative problem solving
  • Strong decision-making skills
  • Sensitivity to the needs or concerns of others
  • Charismatic personality
  • Courage to speak out for one's beliefs
  • Courage to challenge authority
  • Participation and/or interest in community service activities
If that describes our kid, we must be doing something right! Erin will attend a weekend conference with the other HOBY winners from around the state in June. Keep being a leader, kid, and you'll go places.

And yet, there we sat at breakfast, next to a senior who played soccer with Shannon. Erin can't escape it this year... next year will be different.

Three and a half weeks until graduation... just keep swimming...

Friday May 6, 2016

It's been a while since I had the chance to write. Much of life is the same - work, golf, etc. My full time job really started this week, even though my "official" start date is Monday, May 9th.  I am spending about 85% of my time on writing and producing for Mayo Clinic Radio.

On my first day, we had the busiest/craziest recording session ever. Not even joking. Three guests, four segments, re-writing scripts on the fly, and a photo shoot happening while we recorded. Talk about baptism by fire!

I am working early mornings and late nights so I can take time off in the afternoon to coach golf and attend Erin's meets when possible. Yesterday was a gorgeous day and I got out there and walked Northern Hills while Erin played. She's having a really good season, with a few hiccups along the way. As they say, that's golf.

Dan hasn't been able to see Erin golf as much this spring, but he's got a few dates on the calendar in the coming weeks. He's been selling - which is good - but that means follow up appointments and implementations and that means travel. Every week I get asked, "Where's Dan?" If you guess Wisconsin or the Dakotas, you are probably correct.

So, we are clicking along and life is moving quickly. The approaching end of the school year is invading my thoughts. Each day, as I go to the mailbox, there they are - graduation announcements and invites to open houses.

These are Shannon's friends and classmates. This is a big deal in their lives. When your kid starts kindergarten, you say "Here is the class of 2016". I never thought that Shannon wouldn't get there...

While on one level, it's incredibly painful, on another level it feels like connection. When Shannon passed, her friends didn't forget her - or us. They smile and stop to chat when they see us. In some small way it's a connection to Shannon. We see these kids who have developed into young adults and if we close our eyes and imagine, just for a second we can think about what Shannon might be like now.

Last week the seniors had a day where they declared their college choices by wearing sweatshirts or t-shirts representing their school of choice. It was fun to see, but it hurt, too. It made me think back to when Shannon was about 9 years old. Somehow we were talking about college, and she declared she would either go to RCTC so she could live at home, or go to community college in Brainerd so she could live at the cabin!

I'll also never forget the day we told Shannon about the gravity of her diagnosis. One of the first things she said was "I'm not going to get to go to college."

These stories are reminders that Shannon's world never got to be big, because she left us way too soon. Maybe that's partly why Erin loves to travel and wants to go to school in a big city.

So, we will do our best to celebrate with these kids as they finish their high school careers. They are excited for the next stage in life. We are happy for them. Shannon would be, too...