Another anniversary - Jan. 6, 2020

8 years ago on this day, our world fractured when Shannon passed away. We had spent the previous 9 short months in a sprint, focused on Shanon and what she wanted and needed.

Then, she was gone and we had to begin to pick up the pieces.

Grief and loss is not linear. Of course, anniversaries like this are hard. We expect that. What you don't expect is a song on the radio that reminds you, Or a place or a memory that just pops into your head unexpectedly. Those are the moments that can blindside you and buckle you at the knees.

Dan and I put Erin on a plane back to college yesterday, and then watched an absolutely improbable win by the Minnesota Vikings. We couldn't help but think - Shannon would have loved that. She would have been screaming at the TV, right along with me and Dan.

At least that's what we imagine. Would Shannon still be a crazy fan? I assume so, but who knows if what Shannon was at 13 is who she'd be at 21.

And that's the thing. We never get to know what she would have been. As a mother, that's what hurts the most.

I've come to realize that being a mother is one of my favorite roles. And I don't get to do it as much any more. Erin is growing up and Shannon is gone. Yes, of course, Erin still needs me sometimes. But, more and more she handles things on her own and makes her own decisions. As it should be. But that doesn't mean I don't miss being needed.

So that's the emotion I feel today, after 8 years of living without Shannon. I miss what we didn't get to have. I miss getting more chances to be a mom to that  spunky, brown-eyed girl.

I'm grateful every day for Dan and Erin and our ability to weather the waves that don't stop. Today is another anniversary. Tomorrow is a new day.

Jan. 1, 2020

Happy New Year!

The calendar has flipped to a new year and a new decade. I always like the fresh start - another chance to do better and be better in a new year. A clean slate holds so much promise.

There has been a lot of talk about the new decade ahead and reminiscing about the decade we just completed. It's impossible not to fixate on Shannon's illness and death when I think about the past decade. It is the marker in time of before and after, of naiveté and innocence lost.

In 2010, we were in the throes of raising two girls, running them to hockey practice, soccer practice, piano lessons... all the things that kids need to do to be well rounded and grow up right. I, in the way I do, was planning out what was next and where they were headed. I could see what I thought was their future - Willow Creek Middle School, then Mayo HS, playing sports for the Spartans, of course, and then on to college to pursue a passion that could become a career.

10 years later, our little family has learned so much about ourselves and the world. We learned about grace and accepting love and support. We found people who are a part of our tribe - those people who talk about Shannon and continue to show up when we need them most. These 10 years showed us we can be stronger than we ever imagined we could be. In this past decade, we had to find a new way to be a family, to honor our missing piece, but still go on living with hope for the future. We had to accept a new normal.

It has been a bit of a solemn holiday season for me, Dan and Erin. No particular reason that it hit us harder this year than others. Our 8th Christmas without Shannon, which is hard to believe. I think the concept of families gathering from near and far just bring a painful reminder that our family will always have a void where Shannon and her life should be. We're just 5 days from marking her passing yet again. The calendar can be unforgiving.

But again, a new year is a fresh start, and we get a new decade this time, too.

What will the next 10 years look like? I hope for Erin to continue to enjoy college, then graduate school, then have a chance to pursue a career. (Side note - I hope that tuition payments end!) Will she be "settled" somewhere in 10 years? Who knows...

I hope for Dan and I to get to travel more in these next 10 years. I hope he gets to retire in this next decade. What will that look like? Who knows...

I hope I continue to love what I do, and to find my work challenging and engaging. I hope for good health and time with the people I love. I hope for more adventures and to see more of the world.

So cheers to 2020. You hold so much promise. Let's get started.