7 Years

Today is one of those days we mark on the calendar and know that it will be a struggle. It has been 7 years since Shannon passed away. We were reminiscing about the warm January weather we had 7 years ago, much like we just experienced this weekend here in Rochester. The sky is pink this morning, just like it was on that day in 2012.

Today's anniversary also coincides with sending Erin back to Philadelphia last night. Not great timing for her or for us, but classes start Monday morning, so it was time to get back and get organized for the next quarter.

We had a fabulous three weeks with Erin at home. She spent a bunch of time with me and Dan, saw lots of family and friends and even worked a few shifts to make some money. And, she might have caught up on sleep that she was lacking after finals week! Just what everyone wanted and needed.

Now, she is back in Philly and we are here and life goes on. We don't know when she will be home next, which is crazy. Next summer for sure.

So, we are back to our empty nest and the 6th of January all at once. Damn.

On this day, I don't like the passing of time. Erin is a whole different person now than the one that Shannon knew. Maybe I am, too.

I've been reading a little bit about grief again lately. Just processing, I guess. Still trying to reconcile how life can be good and I can be happy? Because that is how I feel. I like my life and I am happy. Will I always feel just a little bit guilty about that?

I read recently how loss and grief, in the early days, it consumes all of you. But in time, it changes. It's not that the grief goes away or lessens, but if you are fortunate, your world gets bigger around it. So when your world gets bigger, the grief feels smaller. I don't know if that makes sense, but that is how I feel. I know my life wouldn't be this full and meaningful if we hadn't lost Shannon. My relationships are deeper and my purpose is greater as I try to carry on in her memory.

Erin feels it, too. She knows she probably wouldn't be at Drexel studying health sciences if it weren't for losing Shannon. It's hard to have something good that's a result of something so bad. I don't know how else to describe it.

The month of January also brings all of our Shannon O'Hara Foundation events. We've got a couple of girl's hockey nights, the Shannon Cup, and will be going through the process of choosing this year's scholarship winners.

The foundation just had an amazing holiday season fundraiser, with donations totaling more than $20,000. People continue to help us make a difference in Shannon's memory. Every check or online donation warms my heart.

Shannon's words ring in my ear. She wanted to be a positive light. She wanted her life to matter.

If you want to hear Shannon again... or for the first time... here she is: