Sunday Jan. 28, 2018

As I sit hear watching the Grammys with Erin, I am reminded much I love music. I can listen to just about anything and I am touched by people sharing their experience through art.

I don't have a lick of musical talent - my last great performance was squeaking my way through Edelweiss on the saxophone in 5th grade - but I do relate to sharing your experience. We got to do that again this weekend at the Shannon Cup.

20 girls hockey teams including 4 from Rochester took part in this weekend's events. We did the usual schmoozing and chatting with people as we sold our Shannon gear. The feedback and support was better than ever.

I took the time earlier in the week to go and speak with the Rochester teams at their practice. To talk a little bit about Shannon and why she's remembered fondly by her friends. Why it mattered to her that her life mean something, even after she was gone.

The Rochester girls are all in, putting lime green tape on their hockey sticks, pads, helmets - anywhere they could! But this year, the parents were all in, too.

One parent paid $2000 for a $5 coffee mug. Seriously. One team donated $1650 in addition to all the gear those kids and parents bought.

Parents from Des Moines to Mahtomedi, and Red Wing to St. Cloud supported the cause, too. Tournament t-shirts and sweatshirts play well no matter where you go to school. Parents stop to read the poster explaining Shannon's story and then they head right to the table to make a donation or buy a shirt.

People are good. So good.

We raised $7,000 this weekend for the Shannon O'Hara Foundation.

So, this is one of the best weekends for us to remember Shannon. We remember the loss, always, but this is a reminder to remember what she gave us. A purpose, a cause, a way to connect with people on a deeper level. A way for life to have meaning and to inspire a new group of young girls to be kind.

The kids working the table were some of Shannon's former teammates who are now finishing up their high school careers. Another one of Shannon's teammates, her first ever line mate, Brooke, was out there reffing games in the Shannon Cup. How cool is that?

This past week offered other chances to realize how lucky we are to have these connections with something bigger than ourselves. Erin did not attend the Shannon Cup. She was on a weekend getaway, spending about 42 hours in California with her second mom, Kula and chosen big sister, Ariana. These relationship are what they are because of our journey with Shannon. Don't get me wrong, they love Erin for Erin, but we are where we are because of where we've been.

Dan had a Shannon connection last week, too. He was in Fort Lauderdale for business. While sitting on his deck, looking at the ocean, he saw a Coast Guard ship go by. Shannon's friend Paige, one of our scholarship winners, joined the Coast Guard last year after graduating. Seeing the boat made Dan think of Paige and he sent a note to her parents saying "Saw this today and it made me think of your girl."

Several hours later, while at a company dinner, Dan got a text from Paige. "Are you in Fort Lauderdale? I am too. That was my ship you saw." Paige's boat had been in Virginia for a couple of weeks and just moved to Florida... on the day that Dan was standing and looking out at the ocean at the exact time to see the boat go by...

Thirty minutes after their text exchange, Dan and Paige were eating ice cream together and Paige got to show Dan around the boat. Karma? Kismet? Shannon? I don't need an explanation, I'm just glad it happened.

So, next up is scholarship night on Feb. 8th. Time to read through the applications and meet with the foundation board to make a decision. It will be tough again this year - I think I say that every year - but these are the last class of Shannon's Rebel teammates.

So, while I'm exhausted from three days at the rink, my cup is full. And, I've got Shannon to thank for it all.

Sunday Jan. 7, 2018

I was happy to awake this morning and see that the calendar had turned to January 7th. Yesterday marked the 6th anniversary of Shannon's passing. 6 years is too long without her, and we know that feeling will only grow.

Of all the anniversaries, I think Jan. 6 might be the worst. There is such finality to it. Although it's the day Shannon's suffering ended, I don't feel any peace at all about January 6th.

Yesterday, we each found our ways of coping with our emotions. Erin spent the night of the 5th at a slumber party with some of her besties. That way, she could wake up surrounded by people who love and care for her.

I chose to drag my butt to the athletic club and play tennis with my girlfriends. People who knew what day it was, and were there to lift me up. Girlfriends still make my world a better place, even 6 years down the road.

Before I returned from tennis, Erin returned home from her sleepover and she and Dan spent some time reading passages from Determined to Matter. Remembering what it was like in the days after Shannon passed. How Erin had to go back to school, go back to basketball practice and start living the rest of her life. How did she do that at 10 years old not completely fall apart?

Dan, Erin and I had wonderful messages and texts from family and friends who remember. People who get it. I had one friend remind me what a gift Shannon was. What a nice way to think about her life.

January 6th just brings the pain of knowing the rest of our lives are not what we envisioned. It doesn't mean we don't feel happiness and enjoy our days. We do. But it's different than we'd like it to be. We just have to take it day by day and do the best we can. That's true for all of us, though, isn't it?

January is a busy month for the foundation as we are receiving scholarship applications and gearing up for the Shannon Cup youth tournaments as well. This is the good we can do in Shannon's memory.  Her cells are still being used for research at Mayo Clinic. That's the good Shannon chose to do. This is what she wanted. To make a difference.

And so, 2018 has begun. The calendar has turned. Living the rest of our lives... that's what we're doing...