Sunday Oct. 28, 2018

I'm thinking about life and death this morning. A high school classmate of mine passed away after a long battle with cancer. 50 is too young. So is 13. My classmate shared her journey via social media and reminded us all how important it is to live now while we can. Peace to her husband and kids as they start their life in the after.

On the flip side, my father-in-law turns 95 tomorrow. Eddie O carries on. Life is funny that way. We don't know how many years we get... it could be 13, 50 or even 96... This uncertainty is tough on a planner like me. (I call myself a planner. Dan and Erin think I might be an obsessor.)

So, there are many reminders to plan for the future, hope for the best, and live in the moment.

Life here on Willow Lane carries on. Dan and I have adjusted to the empty nest. It is quiet without Erin here, especially when Dan is on the road. I do have Gus - who is now an 80 pound puppy - to keep me company. We've been doing training to try and get him to control some of those impulses... like the impulse to run over anyone who comes through the door! He's learning and mellowing out and he'll be a good dog... someday...

Sunny and Sylvie tolerate Gus, they also put him in his place when necessary. Gus is usually sporting a scratch or two from the Sylvie and is missing a chunk of skin where Sunny nipped him. It's also deer season in our backyard, so we often have a chorus of barking dogs. Good times.

Sunny the wonder dog is reaching the end. Her back hips are giving her trouble and stairs have become a problem for her. She's 13 going on 14 and we're realistic. She's still with us today, so we'll live in that moment. Last Sunday, she walked all the way around the reservoir and loved every minute of it. She's not ready to go yet.

I suppose I should talk about Erin, too! It is so strange that she doesn't live here anymore. I didn't really think of it that way, but she is making a new "home" in Philadelphia. She is loving Drexel, has great roommates and is getting to explore Philadelphia a bit. Classes are hard, especially Chem and Bio, but she's making her way. She's already making plans for where to live next year with friends, so that's a good sign. She's stayed in touch with me and Dan via text and FaceTime, which makes the distance a little easier.

It's been 6 weeks since I've seen her, but luckily, I have a trip planned to Philly on Nov. 9th. It's family weekend, and Dan is taking one for the team and staying home with the pets. He's got a trip planned in Jan., so he'll get his turn to visit her. It will be so good to see her space and hear about her life. I can't wait.

Saturday Oct. 6, 2018

We spent our Saturday morning walking and running for brain tumor research at the Brains Together for a Cure annual event. Dan and I reminisced on the way there about the day 7 years ago when Shannon walked with us. But, before Shannon walked, she first had hockey tryouts, then came and did the walk, and then played a soccer game that afternoon where, the girl with the brain tumor, did a header. As soon as she did it, as those of us on the sidelines gasped, Shannon looked over and smiled. I'll never forget it. 3 months later she would be gone.

Today Dan and I did the balloon release to kick off the event. Grandma and Papa Harkins joined us, along with many other friends who are a part of Team Shannon. We connected with other parents who have lost their children and got to visit with Shannon's physicians who are a part of this fight to find a cure.

We continue to do what we can, including making a $5,000 donation from the Shannon O'Hara Foundation to Brains Together for a Cure. Every dollar helps and all funds go directly to brain tumor research at Mayo Clinic.

We missed having Erin with us this year, but she is settling in to college life at Drexel. Thankfully for this mama, she's been staying in touch via text and FaceTime. She's happy, so I'm happy. She has great roommates, likes being in the big city and loves the independence. Oh, and she says Biology and chemistry are hard.

Dan and I continue our lives of remembering one child and rooting for the other. It's not exactly how we want it to be, but it's how it is. It feels good and sad all at the same time. It always will.