Wednesday March 29, 2017

The Facebook flashback have been particularly poignant this week. If you're an FB'er, you know the ones. "On this day 6 years ago..."

I feel like the flashback should say "On this day 6 years ago, you had no idea what life would hold for you." or "In this picture you had no idea that all hell would break loose two weeks later."

That spring break 6 years ago, we took Shannon and Erin to NYC and Washington, DC for the first time. Shannon was 12, Erin was 9. I loved planning our perfect family vacation for our perfect little family. Nothing would ever be "perfect" again.

We came home from that spring break, Erin turned 10, and Shannon was diagnosed. I don't need pictures to remind me of those days. It's burned into my memory in a way I'll never forget.

I shared Shannon's story with some new people this week as the Mayo Girls Golf season has kicked off. At the parent meeting, we always share information about our golf fundraiser with the new families. I wasn't very smooth when I talked about Shannon. Tears were close. Sometimes it just hits me like that.

I guess there's some comfort in that. Knowing that the wound never completely heals. Shannon lives on deep in the pain of these memories. Day-to-day life goes by without really "feeling" sometimes. Maybe that's self preservation. Maybe it's lack of attention to detail. Either way, the pictures this week are conjuring up the memories and I am feeling them deeply.

Next week is spring break again. Erin and I are headed to NYC. We've never done a mother/daughter trip, so we're both really looking forward to it. It's a college visit/16th birthday adventure.

6 years ago, I never imagined that I'd be taking that 9 year old to look at schools. 6 years ago, I didn't know that 9 year old would be my one and only.

Erin has persevered better than we could have hoped or imagined. She has goals and dreams and she's working towards them. I'm glad she didn't give up when her world was turned upside down at age 10. Erin will live with the loss of Shannon longer than any of us. She deserves the world. I hope we can help deliver it.

Wednesday March 22, 2017

There have been some sure signs of spring this week, and not just on the calendar where is says "First Day of Spring"!

The eagle has been flying down out street again this week, heading to the reservoir to hunt for dinner. It makes us wonder if there are babies in the nest this year. Sunny barks at the eagle as it flies overhead. It makes us smile every time.

I also know spring is here because the Mayo Girls Golf season began yesterday. We had our first team meeting and it's always fun to see the girls again and meet the new ones. We have a roster of 25 this year, including 9 new faces, so that's fun. Erin is a captain again this year and I will have the opportunity to be a volunteer coach.

Each year when we start the season we have a meeting the first day. It's a chance to lay out the team rules and talk about the upcoming season. That also includes talking about MGG Swings for Shannon, our annual fundraiser. Each year I tell a new group of girls about Shannon and her short time on this earth. Yesterday, I brought copies of the book for anyone who wants to read about our journey with Shannon. When I look at the pictures of Shannon the day she played in a JV golf meet, she looks so little. I guess she was.

To accommodate the golf schedule, I will start my workdays a little earlier so I can finish and be done in time for practice. I'm so grateful to have this opportunity and to have a job that allows flexibility. The time with Erin here at home seems to be flying by now. I can't believe it, really. Next week, 3rd quarter of her junior year will come to a close and then we're off on some college visits. How did this happen to my little girl?

I know I've contemplated this here before, but I think I need to keep saying it over and over in preparation for the changes ahead. So, thank you all for being my sounding board!

I feel like Erin's independence carries extra weight because of Shannon. I know that's not fair to Erin, but it's a reality. We are only going to have a new driver in the house one time. We are only going to go through the college choice process one time. Etc... These are big milestones and I have to enjoy the process and not let my mind jump ahead, which is not always my strong suit.

So, we carry on working our way to the end of March. Life is good on Willow Lane. I continue to remind myself to enjoy the moments, stay in the present and appreciate the hear and now. I hope you all can do the same.

Thursday March 16, 2017

This week is flying by as I'm catching up from being gone for a few days last week. My trip to Palm Springs with my girlfriends was lovely, just as I had imagined. Strong coffee in the morning, tennis and sunshine and good conversation day and night. Three days of fun and friendship. I did manage to see my boy Roger Federer practicing. He looks just as good in person.

I came home just in time to see the latest 6 inches of snow fall, and to go shopping for a prom dress. This was my first time - ever - shopping for prom. I never went, and, of course, Shannon didn't get the chance. Sunday, during the snowstorm, Erin and I spent 5 hours looking for just the right dress. Dan thought we were crazy. Some things dads just don't understand. Mission accomplished and Erin looks beautiful in the one she chose.

Today, March Madness begins - the NCAA basketball tournament kicks off and will dominate the sports landscape the next three weeks. Dan, Erin and I have filled out our brackets. Always fun to try to guess better than the next guy. And, the MN Gophers are in the tournament this year, so we have a rooting interest.

It's also fun to look at the names of all the colleges and universities participating as it's a reminder of the endless possibilities out there for the kids who are beginning this journey. Erin's senior friends are down to crunch time and making their college choices and Erin and her junior friends are just beginning the college process.

Sports, as you know, is a common topic of conversation in our household. Say what you want about organized sports and crazy parents, but I still think the pros outweigh the cons. Erin's volleyball team this year has 11 girls from 8 different schools who are learning to play together, win and lose together, and support each other no matter what. Those lessons will serve these girls well in the coming years as they learn to live with roommates and advocate for themselves when mom and dad aren't at their side.

Erin's sports life will get even busier starting next week as the high school golf season begins. The first month of the season in Minnesota involves hitting golf balls indoors, but Erin and I are both excited to get the season started. I am lucky enough to get to be a volunteer coach again this year.

We graduated 11 seniors, so our team will have some new faces this year. The first golf meet is scheduled for April 11. Hopefully, the snow will be gone by then!

Dan's travels took him to Wisconsin this week and it just so happens that the Gophers play in Milwaukee this afternoon, so Dan is able to take some customers to the game.

This weekend will take us to the cities for a volleyball tournament. This will be a chance for Grandma and Papa Harkins to see Erin play as the tournament is right in their backyard.

All is well in our world.

Wednesday March 8, 2017

Today is International Women's Day... and I am celebrating by getting the heck out of here with my girlfriends! The sustained 40 MPH winds and bitter temps are making it all the more exciting to be heading to California...

I believe this is our fifth annual getaway and our third time heading to Palm Springs, coinciding with the pro tennis tournament at Indian Wells. Yes, tomorrow I will be stalking the courts looking for Roger Federer...

More importantly, I will be with four other women this weekend who support me and lift me up in this crazy life we live. My hope is that I do the same for them.

Dan and Erin will survive at home without me. Volleyball tonight and then they have a date night planned to go to the girls basketball game tomorrow night.

Just so you don't feel sorry for DanO, please know he has a couple of golf trips planned in April and May...

Erin's life will be busy in the next three months as the club volleyball season continues and the high school golf season begins. The only good news about this crazy wind is that it's drying up the golf course as we speak...

Erin is a captain of the golf team this year and we've got several new kids coming out. I am looking forward to another year of volunteer coaching with the girls.

But, first things first - a trip to the desert with Kay, Kula, Sue and Jeannie. There will be coffee, wine and beer by the pool, yummy salads prepared by those who cook (not me!), days of playing tennis and watching tennis, and much conversation and laughter in between...

So, Happy International Women's Day... tell the women in your life that you support them... even better, show them...