Tuesday April 24, 2018

For those of us in Minnesota, it's been a long stretch of bad weather, but it is finally showing signs of spring. The high school golf season started a month ago... today will be our first day outside.

Erin has 11 meets over the next 4 weeks to get all the matches in before tournament season. It's a sprint to the finish of high school. 18 days until prom, 46 days until graduation... you get the idea...

I write so often here about dates on the calendar - birthdays, anniversaries - good and bad. We've passed a couple recently: Erin turned 17 on April 10th, and Shannon's diagnosis date passed on April 15th. 7 years since we learned that we would lose her.

Dan and I spoke at a St. Jude Fundraiser this past weekend. It still feels good to share our story and to talk about Shannon.

But today is an anniversary that needs to be celebrated. Dan has been sober for 10 years.

It's not something we talk about that often - maybe not often enough. He lives it every day, and Erin and I do our best to support him. Addiction is a horrible disease, but my point in sharing today is to let you know, it can get better.

10 years ago we were scared about what our lives would like. We worried about our social life. Would we lose all our friends? The answer is no. Yes, some relationships went away and some changed, but the holes were filled by new opportunities and new people.

How would Dan stay busy? That same year, Shannon had taken up hockey and Dan began to coach. A new outlet and a new way to bond with his daughter. We took to coaching Erin's soccer team, too. Something to do every season. Dan and I talk often about how grateful we are now that he had that time with Shannon. We didn't know our time with her would be so short, so how lucky that Dan spent as much time with her as he did.

When Shannon got sick, I worried terribly about Dan's sobriety. Could he stay sober through our awful journey? While I was worrying about him, he was teaching me - one day at a time. That's all we're given. That's how you stay sober... and that's how you live after losing a daughter.

A battle with addiction is never over. It's hard for those of us who don't have the disease to understand. I'm still flabbergasted when Dan says "I thought about having a drink today." 10 years in, it never goes away. He'll always be a recovering alcoholic. No past tense.

But, he lives it and he'd tell you he's grateful for the life he has now. It gets better. To anyone out there who's struggling or watching a love one struggle, get help. A happy life in the after is possible. It's not easy, but it's worth it.

So, a shout out to my guy, Dan. I love you and I'm so very grateful for your strength and courage. You are 10 years sober, doing it one day at a time...

Monday April 2, 2018

I am writing from an airplane high above Tennessee, on our way to Georgia. We are off on spring break 2018, heading to The Masters golf tournament. It’s a bucket list item for us. Thanks to a customer of Dan’s, we have this opportunity.

This would have been something you do as a foursome. In fact, in order to book this trip, we needed to have 4 of us to make the Masters badges and off-day tee times work. We had a foursome once, but life – and death – are unpredictable. And, as we’ve learned in the past 7 years, sometimes you have to recalibrate, adjust and carry on.

So, it’s the three amigos and our good friend Ellen. She rivals Dan as the biggest golf freak I know. Ellen will love every minute of this and she is the perfect fit for our foursome. We have tickets to the Masters on Thursday and Saturday and we get to play golf ourselves on Wednesday and Friday.

High school golf season started two weeks ago and no courses in Rochester have been able to open yet due to the late arrival of spring weather. Now, remember when I said life is unpredictable? We were supposed to leave on Tuesday afternoon, not Monday. But, mother nature is smacking us in the face again.

Sunday night, they began forecasting another winter storm - scheduled to hit Tuesday and last until Wed. morning. They are predicting 10 inches of snow in Rochester.
So, when we woke up this morning, Ellen called to discuss alternate travel plans. See, our flight was supposed to be RST to ATL Tuesday afternoon at 4pm. And, there’s only one flight a day to ATL.

We tried to call Delta and it was a two hour wait to get an agent. Dan called his sister Katie,who works for Delta, and she looked and could see that there were seats on today’s RST-ATL flight at 4pm. So, Ellen came and picked up me and Dan and the three of us went to the airport in Rochester to see if we could change tickets. We all had to go because we were on three different reservations!

This nice man named Peter was working the ticket counter. We told him – it’s really simple, we want to move from tomorrow’s flight to today’s flight. No connections, no need to change anything else. There were 10 empty seats so it was no problem. And, he didn’t even charge us a ticket change fee.

So, by 8:15am we knew that we were leaving today. It was time for mad scramble mode. Erin was supposed to work a shift this afternoon, so the first thing was to wake Erin up and have her find a sub (she did). Then, I had to crank out some laundry since all my clothes were dirty from AZ... oh, did I fail to mention I just returned home from visiting a friend about 18 hours ago? 4 loads of laundry. Done.

Then, we needed a place to stay tonight since we don’t get into our house in Aiken, SC until tomorrow. Dan got on with Marriott and got us two rooms tonight at the Atlanta airport. Then, I had to call the neighbors and see if they could take care of our pets starting tonight instead of tomorrow… check.

Erin ran to Target for a few things and we picked up lunch. Dan and I worked and then when the laundry was done, we all packed our bags. We are not traveling light – three suitcases and three sets of golf clubs. We got it all packed, Ellen came over at 2:15, and we were in the air by 4pm. Holy shit.

It will be great to get to play golf and watch the most prestigious golf tournament in the world. So, we are off on an amazing adventure. The days and trips with Erin are numbered. We’re cherishing every minute of it.