A new journey begins

My whole world came crashing down at ~9:30 am on June 15th, 2017.  When I opened the door to the upstairs guest bedroom where my wife had spent the night … the sight I saw was incomprehensible.  I saw my beautiful bride … the love of my life for the last 36 years, my high school sweetheart … face down on the floor beside the bed … totally motionless.  I just lost my mind … I screamed and yelled like I never had before in my life.  First it was disbelief, then anger, then sorrow … first for her; then for me; then for the boys; then for her parents; then for the rest of her enormous extended family; then for all the friends she’s made; and then for all the people whose lives this beautiful lady had touched.

I won’t go into a lot of detail about what it was really like seeing her in that state.  Nor will I go into detail of what it was like enduring the 3.5 hour process of having the scene examined, answering questions asked by the police, and to finally having the coroners personnel remove my beautiful wife from the home she loved so much … in a body bag … for the last time.   I’ll spare you the details … it was surreal, it was agonizing … it’s actually really hard to put into words what it was really like.

After they took Lynn away … I started the painful and emotional process of notifying family and close friends.  It was just brutal having to deliver this message … particularly because no one … I mean no one would’ve expected to get THAT call from me on that day … not in a million years.  It tore my heart out to have to break the news to my sons, Lynn’s parents, my Dad, my sister, my best friends, and so many others.  But it had to be done.

I had a ton of support from the very beginning.  A neighbor of mine who is doctor was heading out to work just as the EMT’s and police arrived … so he came in to see if there was anything he could do.  He stayed with me for hours.  One my best friend’s wife (she’s one of my best friends too) was one of the first people I called because they are local … she came and didn’t leave my side the entire day and night.  And her husband … who at the time was traveling in Mexico on business, booked the first flight he could to get back to be with me.  And the support just kept coming … my best buddy came in from upstate NY; my college roommate and one of my best friends growing up from my hometown were with me within a day; my best buddies from Houston within a couple of days of her passing; my sister and her partner came in from Philly; one of my other best friends who I hadn’t seen in years and who lives in  Brisbane, AUSTRALIA … once he found out … booked a flight for he and his wife and were with me within 7 days of her passing; the assistant Pastor from our church reached out and came to see me; the list goes on and on.

Arrangements needed to be made and I worked with my Pastor and a local funeral home to put things together.  We belong to an incredible church called Lifepoint and we held the service there.  Now I use the word service … but this wasn’t a service, this wasn’t a typical “wake and funeral” … this was a real celebration.  A celebration of Lynn’s life and a celebration of her being called home to heaven.

So as I launch this blog … I’m going to be sharing with you various things that have happened over the 36 years that I was with Lynn … I’m going to be telling you a “love” story.  But I’m also going to try to bring attention to and drive a conversation around two things … 1) the stigma associated with suicide and 2) this deadly, silent killer of a disease called depression.  So I hope you follow along and you spread the word … because in the end we want to take this terrible tragedy and use it to do some real good, to make a real impact on the world … to save lives … to spread love!

So the first piece I want to share with you are the remarks I made at Lynn’s Celebration of Life held at Lifepoint Church on June 20th, 2017… so let’s get started on this new journey …

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Lynn’s Love Story

Look at this place … look at the love in this church.  I could say it’s unbelievable … but it’s not, it’s totally believable … because I know the impact that my wife had on the people here and so many, many others that aren’t here.  But just the same … please know how much my family and I appreciate the outpouring of love and support from you all.

Look this an absolute tragedy.  I’ve been transparent with those that I’ve talked to about what happened.  My sweet wife took her life.  And this is hard to reconcile.  As you can imagine we’re going through lots of different emotions… anger, sadness, unbelievable sorrow, disbelief.  Again what happened is just an unimaginable tragedy … I know it happens … but it was never supposed to happen to us.  But I don’t want to focus on the tragedy … I want to focus on telling you about the beautiful person … the wife, mother, daughter, sister, sister-in-law, aunt and friend that we lost. So that’s what I’m going to focus on … and in a minute I’m going to tell you a love story … a real love story.  And it might take me a while … because sometimes it’s hard to talk … and I do have a lot to say … so please bear with me. It’s so important to me … for my kids, for my family … that you hear the true story about the beautiful, loving Lynn that I’ve been around for the last 36 years. And you need to hear about the full body of work … not dwell on the last dark hours of her life.  I’m telling this love story for Lynn, for me, and for our two sons. Lynn’s full body of work was all about love. Have no doubt that she lived a wonderful, rich, and fulfilling life.

But before I do … I need to ask you something.  Unless you’ve been where me and my family are at … you can only imagine the pain.  And even if you have been here … this is not one size fits all.  I need to protect my boys.  My only priorities, my only obligations going forward are to honor my wife’s legacy; to take care of myself; and most important of all … to take care of my boys.  With that said … make no mistake we need the continued support and outpouring of love, we need the prayers, and the encouragement … please keep it coming because we have a long, long road ahead.  But what we don’t need is anyone coming to any of us and offering theories or analysis of what happened. Please respect that we have the right, the choice to not talk about it if we don’t want to. Please take the cues from us … if we want to engage in a discussion you’ll know.  This is really important … my sons really need some space … please give it to them.  So enough of the ground rules … let me try to tell you this love story.

Lynn and I have known each other since we were in junior high school.  We started dating when we were 17… the summer before our senior year … so she truly is my high school sweetheart.  The connection was incredibly strong right away.  It didn’t take long for ME to know she was the one.  For various reasons we had our breaks through our college years … but believe me I always knew she was the one … and I know … she knew I was the one.  We got back together for good just before my last semester of college. We got engaged in 1987 and lived together in a small little attic apartment in Schenectady, NY (feels a little weird standing here in Church admitting we lived in sin … but that’s the beauty of committing to Christ … the slate is wiped clean).  We got married in October ’88 … so next year would’ve been 30 years.  Brendon came in December of 1992 and Ryan in July of 1997.  Lynn was a terrific mother … she loved her boys with all her heart … and I’ll come back to that.

There were so many people who were important to her but I need to address a few …

Pop (my father) … I know you loved her like a daughter and I know your heart aches so bad. When we were talking last night you reminded me of where you and Lynn really made your connection.  It was when I wrestled in high school … you two were my biggest fans … you’d sit together at every match … it was so cool.  But just know Pop, she was crazy about you … and she knew how much you loved her.  She often referred to you as the “sweetest man she’s ever known”.  I have to be honest … I’d get twinges of jealousy when she’d say that … I’d be like really honey, you know I’m standing right here.  But she would always stick her guns saying like … “honey you are wonderful … but your Dad is the sweetest man I’ve ever known”.

Christa (Brendon’s girlfriend) … Lynn adored you.  She loved the fact that you love her son.  She was so touched by the thought that you viewed our marriage as what a marriage should be … that our relationship demonstrated what true love is really all about.  Just know that this tragedy does not diminish that one bit.  What you saw was true love and two people who just loved being together and supporting each other.

Kirk & Mia (Lynn’s brother & sister-in-law) … Kirk I’m blessed to still have all my siblings … 6 of them … so I don’t know exactly what it feels like for you but I know you adored your sister and she loved you … and worried about you. And for both you and Mia all she wanted for you was individual health and happiness … and happiness in your marriage.

Tom & Helen (Lynn’s parents) … she loved you so much. I’ve lost the love of my life, my boys have lost their mom … but you’ve lost a child.  I can only imagine what that’s like.  I hope it gives you some comfort to know that I absolutely adored your daughter.  I wasn’t perfect by any stretch … but I was good to her.  She was my queen and I enjoyed treating her like one.

Brendon and Ryan (our sons) … your mother loved you guys so much.  Yeah you could you get under her skin sometime … but that’s what kids do … we all did it.  Don’t ever think that what happened was because she didn’t love you enough … it’s just not true. She cherished her job as a mom.  And you know that.  What happened here has absolutely no bearing on her love for you. You experienced it firsthand … you know it was real and deep love … like only a mother could love.  Never have any doubt about her love for you.

Some people can point to a day and say that was the worst day or that was greatest day of their life.  For me as far as the worst … there’s no doubt … it was Wed – June 15th.  But again I won’t focus on that. As far as the greatest … for me there were thousands tied for first because I was lucky enough to have her in my life for 36 years.  Was it the day she attacked me at Sully’s party and kissed me for the first time.  Or was it our official first date and we kissed sitting on the rocks at Waterford Beach; was it the day after being apart for about a year that the pay phone rang at our frat house and my roommate John picked it up … he finds me amongst a party room full of kids and says “dude you won’t believe it but Lynn’s on the phone”.  Was it the day she said yes, the day we got married; the day our first … Brendon was born; or the day our second, Ryan was born … the list goes on and on.

Lynn struggled with depression over the years … at times she managed it well, at others it got the best of her.  But the good times far outweighed the bad … by a long shot.  We’ve lived in a number of places over the years … Upstate NY twice, CT, Atlanta, Houston, and Paris … and we enjoyed them all.  But this move to Wilmington was special.  This place just really clicked for both us.  We built our dream home and we were set on living out our life here.  She used to kid me … although she wasn’t really kidding … she’d say “hey hon, I’ll understand if you need to do another gig with GE in some other city … that’s fine … I’ll look forward to seeing you on the weekends”.  Please know Lynn got a tremendous amount of joy out of life.  Most of you here in this room got to interact with her … you saw it, it was impossible not to.

I’ve always been proud of my wife … I thought it was so cool how we truly worked as a team … from day one.  Just ask anyone who’s come to our house for a get together.  She was beautiful inside and out, compassionate, sexy, smart, and talented in so many ways … as a surgical physician assistant, a cook, with arts and crafts.  She often told me how proud she was of me, how proud of the career I had built and how I provided for the family.  She told me last week while on vacation in Grand Cayman that I made it look easy … I guess I must have a good poker face because it was far from easy.  But I can tell you the single biggest reason why I got to where I am … is the incredible support she gave me over the years … she was amazing.

I was particularly proud of her over the last 7 months since her most recent back surgery last October.  We were so nervous that this injury was going to turn out like the first one she incurred in 1999 … where it required multiple surgeries and she still had pain.  But this time it was different.  Within an hour after having surgery, I had her back home; an hour later per Dr’s orders she walked a block.  Every day she walked further and further and got stronger and stronger.  She started swimming … my girl was quite the fish … she started out doing 40 laps at the Y.  Every week she added laps.  She got to the point where she was doing 100 laps 2-3 times a week in the same amount of time it took her to do the original 40 … and she loved it.  Over the same period of time she lost 30 lbs.  She couldn’t wait to drop me a text every Fri morning after weighing in to let me know her progress.  I was so proud of her … but more importantly she was so proud of herself and felt good about herself.

We’ve had lot thrown at us over the years.  Lynn dealt with a tremendous amount … both personally with her health and serious family issues we’ve endured.   She leaned on me as she should have.  In last couple years in certain situations she would affectionately call me “Superman”.  She called me “Superman” in part because I’m a hardworking, global traveling, wine/beer/cocktail drinking, fun-loving, outgoing guy who tries to get that maximum out of everything I do and rarely tires.  But the other piece of it is with all that going on … I’ve always had the capacity to lovingly support her and pick up some of her load during the times when she was dealing with some of the frustrating health issues she encountered over the last 3 years.  I must admit … I loved it when she called me that.  I mean come on … what guy wouldn’t find satisfaction in a beautiful woman calling them Superman.  But it makes me sad now … because Superman was always able to save the pretty lady in distress.  I know it’s not my fault … but it hurts so bad knowing that I wasn’t able to save my pretty lady that was in distress.

I refuse to focus on that last moment … I’m going focus on the complete body of work … the 53 years, 2 months and 14 days prior to that moment … because there were so many good times, so much love packed into that time.  And I’ll tell you if at the start of all of this … if God had given me a choice of being with her for 36 years and having it end this way or taking a different path and not have to endure this unbelievable sorrow … there’s no doubt I would’ve picked the 36 years with this incredible lady.

For all of you that were close to Lynn and I … I know you hurt for me and my boys.  But I also know in your head and amongst yourselves you’re saying … “how could she do this to them”.  Please stop.  Do not be mad at her.  When I found her I just lost my mind.  My first emotion was anger and I just screamed and screamed … “honey what did you do, how could you do this”.  But that anger quickly turned to sorrow … sorrow for her. Because I know how much she loved me and her family … and I know if she could have helped it … she would have never done anything to hurt me or her family.  Look … I’d go insane trying to make rational sense of what happened.  So I’m going to try not to … I’m going to focus on what I know …

  • I know … I loved her with all my heart … she was everything to me … and I know she knew it
  • I know she loved her boys and her family … with all her heart
  • I know she loved me with all her heart
  • And I know if she could’ve helped it … she would have

I’m devastated, my boys are devastated, her parents are devastated, our family is devastated … but don’t for a second let this one moment, this one irrational decision in a moment of despair define my beautiful bride.  Lynn deserves better, I deserve better and most importantly my boys deserve better.  I also just want everyone to know … that I know me and my boys will need help … real professional help.  I will get it … because I need to be equipped with all the tools necessary so I’m in shape to help my boys.  So you don’t have to tell me, at this time I just want to focus on the beautiful memories of Lynn and celebrate her.

So back to my boys …. I will always be here for you.  I know we are changed forever.  I know that my job description just changed and I’m adding scope.  We’ve always been close but we’ll become even closer.  Now look … I know it’s hard to believe that I could become an even cooler, more awesome Dad than I am today … but you just wait and see. You are my priority, you will get even more of me … I will rise to the challenge … count on it.  And you boys will too.  We will make your mother proud of what we become … she wants that for us.

So now it gets hard, Lynn, I know in this world I’ll never again hear your voice, touch your beautiful skin, I’ll never again kiss your lips … I will never hear you call me Superman again.  But please know I will be Superman for your boys.  I’m so glad that on April 22, 2012 you made the decision to give your life to Christ … allowing him to be your Lord and Savior.  I remember doing the greeting at the beginning of the service at our old church in Houston that Sunday.  And I was so proud to be able to tell the congregation that with the choice you made … I was guaranteed to spend eternity with my high school sweetheart … my bride.  There will come a day when God will call me home too.  And then we will be together once again.  (And I’m going make you dance!).  I miss you so much honey and I will always love you!

 

32 thoughts on “A new journey begins

  1. Janis says:

    I’m glad you have taken this step to create a repository for the reflections you have already shared and to allow us to continue to walk this journey with you. Xoxo, Jan

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lindsey Savage says:

    Lance- Chad and I both are thinking of you and praying for you & your boys to continue to focus on the love around you. A truly beautiful blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Barbara Rimoshytus says:

    Lance, my heart breaks for you and your beautiful family. We’ve met on several occasions through Sandy and Bob and I remember always thinking “what a great couple”. You are absolutely right when you say its not a one size fits all…..I know personally. Those boys are very lucky to have someone as strong as you to help them through these difficult times. I will keep you and your boys in my thoughts.

    Barbara (Sandy’s cousin)

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Dustin Farrell says:

    Lance, Brendon, Ryan, family, friends,
    We continue to pray for your strength during this difficult time. This is a very important subject and we will continue to share with everyone we can. I know sharing this and educating on this disease will help others coping with these significant challenges.
    Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteousness right hand”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nilda says:

      Pammie, I knew something happened but had no idea. Thank you for sharing this with me. I love you and your family. Always will. Please continue to share with me if you are able. I miss you and wish we didn’t live so far. I too suffer from depression and have been working hard at “fixing” it. My heart goes out to all of you. I am truly sorry.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Rene Brand says:

    I have just read your story. I have struggled with severe clinical depression for years but that is another story. I want you to know that I have in the past tried to end my life, but I didn’t succeed. This is what I thought at the time, I can’t fight anymore and I can’t have my family see me like this anymore. I thought it was the answer at the time. Please know I will continue to pray for you and your boys( I have 3 sons) may the Lord wrap his loving hands around all of you!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Bob Pearson says:

    Lance – my heart sank when I read this. I can’t begin to imagine what you are going through, but I do know you will do all the things you say for your boys. You are a good man, and you will be in my prayers. God be with you. – Bob Pearson

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Mary Falvey Giragosian says:

    Lance, the love you and Lynn shared was beautiful. Depression is an ugly, horrible illness. She fought the battle but sometimes it wins, and in turn we lose. Know my thoughts and prayers are with you always. Your honesty and transparency WILL help others! Sending you and your boys hugs and prayers.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jeremy Reynolds says:

    Lance – I was not aware of what your family is going through. Thank you so much for sharing so honestly and passionately. As part of both the GE and Lifepoint families, I am here to serve you and your loved ones in any way you need. Your boys are lucky to have such an incredible leader in you to guide them through this. Will be praying for you.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Aysha Greene says:

    What beautiful words you have written, they have really touched my heart. Your love for your wife is so evident and it’s beautiful. She sounds like she was an amazing woman. So very sorry for your loss. Prayers to you for peace, comfort and understanding.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Robin Gilbert Luftig says:

    Suicide is a terrible act–yet it is so prevalent. There are so many people hurting from depression in this unforgiving world. But there’s hope. Hope in healing with the love of others around us for sure, but most importantly, with the love of Christ.

    Bravo for your focus on the beauty of your wife and the loves of her life. And you’re right. Her choice had nothing to do with her love for others. I didn’t know her, but I know suicide. Her love for you and your family was completely separate from the ugly monster in her. And continue to rejoice in her commitment to Christ. That was separate, too.

    I will hold you and your family up in prayer.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Patricia Holmsen Schulte says:

    Lance, you are a beautiful writer. Telling Lynn’s story and your journey opens up a conversation with the world. This is a story that has many chapters. Take your time. The whole Waterford Class of 1982 is with you every step of the way. Much love to you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Cheryl Freeman says:

    You are so brave. By brave, I mean by putting yourself, and Lynne’s story out there. Making it real. Helping people to realize that any person on this earth could experience what you OR Lynn experienced (are experiencing). So many feel they have no choice, even though they have an incredible support system. “It can happen to anyone”. I’m so sorry this happened to you.

    By brave, I also mean by protecting yourself and those you love, while telling your story,

    By brave, I mean letting God help you tell this story, because I believe he is helping, and I can also see Him opening people’s eyes through (collectively) your eyes.

    I ask that a God continue to protect you, your family, extended family and friends. That by telling your story, you are benefiting by not only getting the word out, but by helping yourself, your son’s and your family/friends to heal. I ask God to bring peace to your hearts, and joy. I know that word might seem tough to think about, but you are allowed to feel joy, and peace even through the grief.

    You were precious to Lynn, as are the boys. Her death, while shocking, tragic, and untimely, will not be in vain, because you are helping to keep her alive in your hearts and minds, and in ours. Thank you for sharing, for being real, as it helps us to grieve and find healing.

    Although we have never met, and you don’t really know who I am, I call you friend,

    Liked by 1 person

  13. gm1123 says:

    My aunt just shared your blog story on her fb page. I read the blog there. She lost her daughter, my sister from another mister, to suicide 2 years ago. She is forever changed, I see and feel it.
    My opinion on suicide was forever changed on May 1, 2015. I am more sympathetic to people with mental illness or intense depression. I no longer think they are cowards looking for a way out. She was so desperate to rid herself of the demons of depression and mental illness she did so in a way only she thought could work. They are the bravest people I know. Sometimes, my aunts change makes me uncomfortable and sad. Then I realise it’s like she has no choice. Her life was changed in one of the most horrific ways–how do you get past that? I hope your story gave her hope to continue this life without her baby girl. My condolences to you and your boys. Best wishes in healing and honoring your late wife’s legacy.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Michelle Sweet says:

    Lance, first I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ll be praying for you, your boys and the rest of your family. I am a good friend of Bob Soares. Thank you for sharing your story and trying to spread knowledge of this illness. It affects more people than most are aware of.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Julie Rondeau daughter of Sharon and John Rondeau says:

    Lance,My mother Sharon misses Lynn crazy and we are always speaking about you all including the boys, I my are your son’s age. Dont give up! fight the fight ,scream, yell,dance laugh do it all in the love of Lynn. We have struggled this month to come up with a desert worthy of Lynn for Vigilant Hope and they all miss her as well. I am sure that I stand in union with everyone from Lifepoint that you and your family will continued to be prayed over and through for as long as you need us too. Suicide hurts so many people and I can personally speak that it has affected my family and know, it does get easier but it never goes away. The love you spoke of yours and Lynn, many people would would give up a lifetime to have that.Here is only temporary, so Lynn is building your house for when God calls you home. you will once again be her superman and she will have the love of her life with her once again. To the kids, my heart breaks and tears fall for them but they way they both spoke Lynn gave them so good tools to use and to fight the fight . God Bless!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. jillantro says:

    I don’t know you, but heard of your blog from a mutual friend. Thank you for your transparency. I lost an uncle to suicide this year, and other than my immediate family, no one else knows. I’ve talked about it with no one. I haven’t told one friend. Honestly, I’m ashamed, and a little mad. I look forward to the conversation in your blog. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Lorraine Utley says:

    Thank you for sharing so honestly and showing the world what true love looks like. I know God will carry you and your boys day by day and continue to show His grace to you moment by moment. You have honored your wife so beautifully! Thank you for the way you have taught all of us who have been able to read this.
    I am a friend of Allison and Scott Sperber in Pawleys island, SC and so thankful to have you as part of my God family.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Bob Pearson says:

    I love what you are doing here, Lance, not least because I suffered from depression myself for way too many years before I sought the treatment I needed. Depression and suicide are increasing all around us; you are shining your light on it in a way that can make real change. I pray that God comforts you.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. MICHAEL + Klaus says:

    Thank you again – it is a very touching and emotional journey. Not much more to say than we miss her terribly which you know anyway. We wish you all the strength and support you need to continue your life. Love Michael + Klaus

    Liked by 1 person

  20. James Halla says:

    Well said Lance, Lynn’s love story is reaching many people an making a difference. Love to you an the boys. Now I have to wipe the tears from my eyes. God bless you son.j

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Barbara Kydd says:

    Lance, unfortunately you and I have not met. You commented on something I posted on FB which let me to read your blog. First I’d like to say I am truely sorry for your loss. Secondly, thank you for sharing the love for your wife and family really resonates through your writing. Lastley, thank you for opening up about the subject of depression in hopes that your story may help someone else. May God continue to bless you and your boys. Please continue the write.!!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Rachael Clendenning says:

    Hi Lance,
    I met you on the flight down to Houston on Wednesday. I promised I would read the blog and I wanted to let you know I’ve started. It may take me a bit to catch up.
    There are so many quotes and thoughts running through my mind but the first is “treat everyone with kindness because you never know what battles they are fighting”. Who would have know that the man I randomly met on my flight would have been fighting such a hard battle. Anyways, I hope you are enjoying your time with your son here in Houston and I hope that you get the chance to spoil him like you told me you would.
    I can’t believe the amazing love story you and Lynn have/had! Ironic that we had newly weds on our flight and I was sharing my excitement with you on celebrating my one year wedding anniversary this weekend, while the whole time your love story was something we could all admire and learn from!
    I wish you, your sons, your family and Lynns family lots of love and smiles. I now need to get back to reading!
    Travel safe and I hope our paths cross again!
    Rachael Clendenning

    Liked by 1 person

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