OK, let’s get back to telling you more about my beautiful bride, my high school sweetheart, the love of my life. To do that I’m going to share with you the remarks I made at Lynn’s Celebration of Life that was held back in our hometown.
At that time, it had been 15 days since we all lost Lynn. It had been a gut-wrenching and exhausting 15 days for so many. But it was also a beautiful time. Beautiful from the standpoint of the incredible outpouring of love I witnessed as a result of this tragedy … and I continue to experience. So, on Tuesday night … 6/27 … we held a Tribute to Lynn … a celebration of her Life. It was a beautiful tribute with an amazing turnout. In addition to the remarks I made (most of which are copied below) … several of Lynn’s family and friends shared thoughts and stories about her incredible life. The day before the tribute … I went to the location of our first official date … our town beach … “our beach” … to spread some of her ashes on the rocks where we kissed 36 years before, and other places along the beach where we had such great memories. It was a beautiful morning and except for the guy on the tractor grooming the sand … I had the entire beach to myself. I got to sit on those rocks and reflect and talk to Lynn and God … it was peaceful … I felt really good in that moment.
So again, my goal here is simple … I want to continue to honor Lynn’s legacy … the complete “body of work”; I want to shine a spotlight on the stigma associated with suicide; and I want to raise awareness about the devastating effects that this terrible disease, depression, can have on people who suffer with it and those that love them. So below are the majority of my remarks … not word for word … as I went “off-script” often … but it captures the essence of what I said … happy reading.
Welcome … thank you all for coming and sharing this special night with me and my family. My boys have been through a lot … so they decided to sit this one out. Please know that they are making tremendous progress since they first received the news of their Mom’s passing. The purpose of tonight is to celebrate Lynn’s life … share memories and thoughts of her. What happened is tragic but as I continue to process all of this … and as I think of Lynn and our life together … an infinite amount of thoughts & memories flood my brain. But there’s one constant theme that keeps coming through … and its simply LOVE. So, let’s celebrate Lynn tonight … let’s cry, let’s laugh, let’s reminisce, let’s eat, drink and dance, and express love to each because Lynn was synonymous with LOVE
I apologize in advance for reading directly from notes but I want to be sure not to miss anything that’s been on my mind and heart to communicate to you. It’s been an exhausting 12 days … I’m running on adrenalin fumes and LOVE.
I want to discuss and share a few things with you, but bear with me … I have a lot to say. And I hope I make you cry, hopefully laugh, and think. Then we’re going to give anyone that wants to share stories, thoughts about Lynn to have the chance to do that.
As you know … I’m devastated, my boys are devastated, her parents are devastated, our family is devastated … but something that’s important for our family to get folks to understand … she was happy. Obviously not in that MOMENT of despair … but she was happy the vast majority of the time … we had a beautiful, blessed life together. Given how things had been going for us for quite some time … and how quickly things turned so tragic … it was a shock. But I know 24 hours prior to this happening … she was happy and she had been for quite some time. So, 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.
And although we’re devastated … we – me and my boys – are taking this thing head on. Just know like I said last Tue … 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 every time.
So, with that I want to address 2 things specifically 1) “the stigma” associated with suicide and 2) this evil, devastating disease known as depression. On the first … “the stigma”. And just in case you’re sitting there … saying “stigma what stigma?” … believe me it’s there big time. I have many examples. And please if you wrote something or said something to me along these lines do not feel bad … it’s actually a big part of the reason why me and my boys want to be so vocal about this. I got more than one card that said in effect “Wow I didn’t know … thought you were the perfect couple” … we were the perfect couple. Another example, I had a call with a person I’m pretty close with and just like I have been with everyone … I was transparent with him … so when I tell him, “she did it intentionally” … he says … “hey man that’s your business, no one’s going to hear that from me”. So, don’t be confused … there’s a stigma associated with suicide and there shouldn’t be … there’s no shame on her, we will not be embarrassed … there’s no reason to keep this secret … just the contrary. Just imagine … I was the only one there when it happened … I could’ve tried to hide it which you’d never be able to do for a significant amount of time … the truth’s going to come out … but until then everyone is whispering and gossiping about what happened. More importantly what good would that have done … it doesn’t allow me to honor her legacy, just think about it … I’d have been delivering remarks last Tue tonight and tonight and all the thousands of other conversations based on a lie; and I’d miss an incredible opportunity to make something positive out of this by shining a spotlight on the stigma surrounding suicide; and depression
Depression is an extremely powerful, evil, and dangerous disease. I knew it before this … but I really know it now. I’m not going to stand up here like I’m an expert on depression … because I’m not. I’ve never been depressed … I’ve got experience with it being around the love of my life who struggled with it from time to time … but I really don’t truly know what it’s like. I really need to learn more and believe me I will. But I tell you what my son Brendon does … and I hope you’ve read what he’s been writing and posting. And I hope it changes your perspective.
Look my job description changed overnight along with my priorities. And at the very top of the list is to take care of and protect my boys. So, one thing I ask you is to give them some space. Love them, tell them how sorry you are for them, tell them how wonderful a woman their mother was, tell them stories, let them know that you are there if they need you. BUT DON’T EVER TELL THEM … MY BOYS … THAT THEIR MOM WASN’T HAPPY … BECAUSE IT’S NOT TRUE AND THEY KNOW IT … JUST LISTEN TO THEM, TO ME … WE KNOW. I’M NOT DENYING THAT SHE HAD HER MOMENTS … AND THERE WERE TIMES WHEN THEY LASTED MORE THAN A MOMENT. AND THIS LAST “MOMENT”, FOR SOME REASON SHE COULD NOT SHAKE. I GOT IT, BRENDON GETS IT, I THINK RYAN IS GETTING IT. BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN SHE WASN’T HAPPY. ALSO, KNOW THAT LYNN WAS AN INCREDIBLY TALENTED MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL. SHE TOOK TREAING & MANAGING HER ILLNELLS SERIOULSY. AND PLEASE DON’T OFFER YOUR ASSESSMENT/ANALYSIS/RATIONALIZATION OF WHAT HAPPENED … IT DOESN’T HELP … LET’S LEAVE THAT TO THE PROFESSIONALS … OK.
For all of you that were close to Lynn and me. I know you hurt for me and my boys. As I said Tuesday … don’t look down on her, don’t say … “how could she do this to them”. Also, as I said Tuesday … all you need to know is this …
- 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
Ok enough of that let’s get back into the love story and at the end I’m going to give you some insight into how it all began …
First just know that I loved her completely. She was beautiful inside and out, sexy, passionate, compassionate, and caring. She was smart, and talented in so many ways … as a surgical physician assistant, a cook, with arts and crafts. She was strong. She had a great sense of humor and loved to laugh. She was hardworking and she took great care of the house, the boys and me. I liked the fact that for many years now … she didn’t have to work outside of the house … she liked that to. I’d tease her about going back to work … saying come on hon I could retire sooner … she’d just say …” nah, I like my gig … I’ve got a great life!” She loved to read and would just gobble up books … she could read so fast, she loved music, flowers and plants, the beach and water, and animals … especially her dogs, loved seeing dolphins in the water right by our house and she had this weird thing about otters, didn’t she Anne. I could go on and on about things she loved.
I mentioned this last Tuesday … how I was particularly proud of her and happy for her over the last 7 months following her most recent back surgery last October. Lynn originally hurt her back in 1999 … she was helping to move a gastric bypass patient and blew out one of her lower disks…S1/L5. Over a period of 3-4 years they went into that poor girl’s back at least 5 times. We were so nervous that this latest injury … L4-L5 … was going to turn out like the first one she incurred … requiring multiple surgeries. 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 is 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.
We liked a lot of the same things and shared many interests. We’ve built 4 houses together and rarely were we not on the same page. Although there was one notable exception … there was this time when Lynn, Pam and Jan tried to re-arrange my kitchen layout by extending a wall … ask them how that turned out. But we were also quite different in many ways. They say opposites attract … we sure did … we were great together. We both used to often to say … not only do we love each other … but we also “like” each other. Like everyone neither one of us were perfect … but we were the “perfect” couple.
I also mentioned Tuesday night how just in the last couple years she started to affectionately call me Superman on occasion. In part because I’m a hardworking, global traveling, wine/beer/cocktail drinking, fun-loving, fishing, golfing, boating and outgoing guy who tries to get that maximum out of everything I do and rarely tires.
Now I know this will be hard for some of to hear … but I think I it’s important to put it out there … because I want to continue to approach this whole ordeal with honesty and transparency. Someday … down the road sometime … there will be another girl. I know that probably really hurts many of you to hear that … especially Tom and Helen … but also my boys – Brendon and Ryan; Pop, Pam & Jan; Mike & Klaus; The Hess’s; The Crew … and so many of others that have spent lots of time with us over the years. But just know … NO ONE will ever replace Lynn. And I’ll never compare anyone to Lynn.
Most of you know that I lost my Mom over 20 years ago, I was 30. I must admit the first time my Dad let us know he was seeing someone and then brought her over the house … it felt a little weird. But you know my Dad’s a lot like me minus the global traveling and wine/beer/cocktail drinking (he’ll enjoy an occasional beer or glass of wine). And he had and still has a lot of living to do … and I don’t want to see him lonely and I want him to be happy. And even when my Dad saw someone else … he always talked openly about my Mom and the deep love they shared. He’s been with his current girlfriend Joyce for 12 years … and Joyce is the same way … she talks openly and lovingly about her husband Richie. And Dad you still deserve to be happy. I’m talking about this for a reason … I’m the type of guy who just loves life, I just gobble it up … and having companionship is part of life. And I also say it for the people who only know me as being with Lynn … and me without Lynn just seems weird …it is for me too. I want to maintain my relationships with all the people I love … and that’s a real long lost … I don’t want it to be weird. In one part of the note she left she said [“all she ever wanted us (meaning me and the boys) was to be happy”] … now that’s the ultimate irony … because we already were. And for me … she was all I ever wanted. God literally answered a prayer for me when we finally got back together. Whoever that girl happens to be someday … she won’t have the history, she won’t have shared the experiences … so we’ll have to fill her in. No one replaces Lynn … but there will be new chapters in my life. And my bride … the love of my … will always be in my heart.
Look this sucks … I know in this world I’ll never again hear her voice, touch her beautiful skin, I’ll never again kiss her lips, we’ll never make love again … I will never again hear call my name or call me Superman. As I also mentioned last Tuesday … I’m so glad that on April 22, 2012 she made the decision to give her life to Christ … allowing him to be her Lord and Savior. So how cool is this … with the choice she made and that same choice I made before her … I’m guaranteed to spend eternity with my high school sweetheart.
Ok so let’s switch gears … let me fill you in on how this love story all got started … but just to recap …
- Lynn and I have known each other since we were in junior high school.
- Started dating when we were 17… the summer before our senior year … 1985
- 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.
- Got back together for good just before my last semester of college.
- Got engaged in 1987 and lived together in a small little attic apartment in Schenectady, NY.
- Got married in October ’88 … same day as Karen and Scott Ryan who are here
- Brendon came in December of 1992 and Ryan in July of 1997.
So now let me tell you how it all began …
Tuesday, I mentioned our 1st kiss was at Sully’s party in the summer of 1985. But I must take you back a little further to set this up. Like I mentioned … we knew each other since 7th grade …
So, that’s where I’m going to leave it for now. I’m saving the details of this extraordinary love story for family and friends who come to visit … and the book. I know it’s a pretty cool story … I know because I lived it for 36 years with an incredible woman who was beautiful … inside and out. In fact it may be the one of the greatest, saddest love stories of all-time … stay tuned.