Saturday September 30, 2017

I've started and stopped writing a post here over the past week. I just haven't been able to articulate my feelings. But here goes...

Life is good and amazing and painful all at the same time. We are all along for the ride with Erin. Senior year is going as planned - she likes her classes, homecoming was a blast, the volleyball team is really having fun together. The next step in college applications and planning a few more college visits. It's all really good stuff.

I knew that I'd feel anxious and some sadness about watching Erin go through things for the last time, anticipating that next year at this time, she'll be off on her own and our house will be a little more empty.

What I didn't anticipate is that watching Erin progress through senior year would bring up so many feelings about Shannon. A sneak peek at Erin's senior picture this week was a trigger to wondering what would Shannon have looked like? I've been missing her so acutely lately.

I spent some time the other day updating our foundation website (shameless plug: I added this year's scholarship application and added some upcoming hockey days where the SOF will be there.  While I was there, I decided to watch the YouTube video of Shannon. I don't remember the last time I watched it. Damn, she was so little.

I hadn't really articulated to Dan these feelings I've been having, experiencing the loss of Shannon's future as I watch Erin. Dan came home from his week on the road in Michigan and told me he had a customer ask him about the lime green bracelet he was wearing. Dan told him about losing Shannon and the foundation we started and since he was in the middle of showing the customer the online tools he could use, Dan toggled over to the foundation website and played the Shannon video for his customer. On the same day I watched it, Dan watched, too.

I don't pretend to understand how the universe works, but Dan and I were meant to start a dialogue about Shannon this week.

I don't want to take anything away from Erin's senior year or her experience. But I have to acknowledge for myself that it brings up emotions about Shannon. And, it's a reminder that we will experience the loss of Shannon over and over and over in our lives as we watch Erin grow.

For my job, I do a lot of work with podcasts, and that's led me to listening to more and more podcasts when I'm working or walking or driving. I started listening to a new podcast last week - "Terrible, Thanks for Asking". Yes, that's the title. A little dark humor answer to the common question "How are you?"

The host, Nora McInerny, lost her husband, Aaron, to brain cancer. She wrote a blog during the journey and a book after he was gone. Sound familiar? She dives into what grief is, how you can appear normal to the outside world, how you go on and how some days, it's all just too much.

Here's a passage on how she thinks about her grief:

I didn't totally hate it, and I still don't. It's like a bruise I get to push, a pain that reminds me that what I had and what I lost is real. It's the price I paid for loving deeply and for letting myself to be loved. It's the evidence that Aaron was here and that he's really gone.

There's a part of me that's mad to feel like I'm actively grieving again, 6 years later. But, maybe the universe is reminding me that grief is a part of love. It's a way of keeping Shannon in my life. I can be busy and happy and enjoying life and still feel the loss. Happiness and grief aren't mutually exclusive.

So, on we go with this journey called life.


Next weekend is the Brains Together for a Cure walk. While we aren't actively participating this year, it's a wonderful organization and I hope, if you have the time, you will support them. For more information, visit:

Sunday September 17, 2017

The first two weeks of senior year have been a success for Miss E. She is liking her classes and is fully engaged in high school experience. Dan and I see her briefly most days... when she needs a shower or a meal.

There are student government and honor society meetings, there are boys and girls soccer games to attend, and the first home football game happened on Friday. That involved tailgating and face paint and hoarse voices the next morning.

This week is Homecoming which means dress up days, Friday pep fest, parade and football, and then the dinner and the dance on Saturday. Erin is going with her friend Pujan. Their friend group is made up of fun, smart kids, so it should be a great night.

After a volleyball fundraiser breakfast yesterday. Erin came home to shower... and to ask for money... and then headed to the U of M to visit her friend, Liz. Liz has made the transition to college kid, but that doesn't mean that she and Erin aren't still connected. Technology has changed the "going away to college" experience. I think Liz and Erin talk every day!

So, Erin drove her herself to the Twin Cities for the first time, went to the Gopher football game and slept in the dorm with Lizzy last night. Erin is living life to the fullest. Dan and I are filled with joy watching her do her thing.

I find myself in a strange place, trying to savor every moment but ruminating about what's ahead. Senior year is already going fast. College applications will happen in the next 6 weeks and then, the waiting game and big decisions are ahead.

It's the natural order of things. But, I am a rookie at this, a jumble of emotions and worries and excitement. One day at a time, right? Still, after all these years of practice, that's not my strong suit.

But, mostly I feel joy seeing Erin grow. She's navigated a childhood no one would want. She not only survived, but she is thriving. I know I will be sad and lonely when she's off at school. But, it will be an accomplishment to celebrate, too. Somewhere, under my anxieties and worries about what's ahead, I know that to be true.

"Where we love is home - home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts." - Oliver Wendell Holmes

Last first day of school

The beginning of the end. Erin began her senior year and these are the obligatory first day of school photos. But, if you only knew what I had to go through to get these...

Yesterday, Erin and I did some last minute school shopping and secured the all important homecoming dress. (Homecoming date is still TBD :) So, we spent our labor day heading off to the MOA.

A successful trip was only dampened by the news when we arrived home that Dan had fallen off the garage roof. While cleaning out the gutters, with a leaf blower backpack on, the ladder slipped and he was left hanging from the garage gutter momentarily before falling onto his back on our patio.

When we arrived home, he was sitting in a chair in the backyard. He refused to go to the emergency room last night. He just took Advil and went to bed. This morning, it was evident that he needed more than Advil.

So, while Erin was getting ready for school, I was taking Dan to the doctor. In typical Rochester fashion, the doctor was someone with whom we were acquainted. I taught his 3 kids tennis. We know his wife. The doctor immediately smiled and shook his head. He told Dan, "Sometimes I'm a dumb guy, too." He said Dan must have been suffering from "testosterone poisoning". Ha! I'm going to have to remember that one.

Luckily, we now have our Mayo Clinic primary care doctor just a mile away at the SE Clinic. As we were visit with the doctor, Erin texted that she was ready and leaving for school. I told her WAIT! So, I explained to the doc hat I had to run home and take a first day of school pic. And that's exactly what I did.

Now, this either makes me a bad wife, or a good mom.

I snapped my photos, said goodbye to Erin and was back to Dan before he was done with the examination. X-rays were negative and tests for kidney function were normal. So no lacerated kidneys and no broken bones. The pain can be managed with a short course of narcotics. He should be on the mend in a few days. (Unfortunately, there is no cure for testosterone poisoning...) As I pushed him in the wheelchair, I told him it was about 25 years too early for this!

On a brighter note, Erin came home after volleyball practice, ate dinner, changed clothes and she's off to the boys soccer game. She said her teachers are great, she's got friends in her classes and it's going to be a good year. That's what a mom likes to hear.

The beginning of the end of high school is off to a good start.