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
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...