And we will see you again

PART 2, Morgan’s eulogy

There’s a hole in the world now… There’s nobody who saw just what he saw, knows what he knew, remembers what he remembered, loves what he loved… Questions I have can never now get answers. The world is emptier.
-Lament For a Son, Nicholas Wolterstorff

My friend John, recalls in his book Desire, “’Simone Weil once said, there are only two things that pierce the human heart; beauty and affliction. Moments we wish would last forever and moments we wish had never begun.”

And Norman Maclean, the author of A River Runs Through It, and Lance’s favorite author, once said, “Agony and hilarity are necessary for salvation.”

Lance was the hilarity in my life. His humor was the healing balm to my intensity. He made me laugh until it hurt. And he was the fuel behind many moments of beauty that we longed to last forever.

The last of those “forever moments” before cancer was an adventure in a rented boat in the landscape of our greatest childhood memories. We were at a family reunion two summers ago at Chautauqua Lake; the geography of our childhood adventures. We found ourselves out on the lake trying to beat a storm to safety. We were full throttle as we drove into the setting sun punching out of the storm. The rental boat had no running lights and we took a gamble to try to make it back to the marina instead of tucking into a random dock for the night. We found ourselves the only boat out on water like glass, as we pushed through the storm and cut through the endless sky. I remember only longing for one thing – that the boat dock would never come. We laughed together. All was well. It was a moment we wish would last forever.

But it didn’t. Quickly after Lance had a seizure, he was diagnosed with brain cancer and went into surgery.

The doctor met with us during surgery and said the unthinkable.

“Statistically Lance has less than a year to live.”
“He may not be able to ever speak again when he comes out of surgery.”
“And he may not know who you are.”

And so began our battle. Eighteen months and one day.

Lance lived and fought with courage, heroism, humor, and perseverance.

And we fought alongside of him.

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In the end, I’m learning that we don’t always get to choose our stories. But we do get to choose the men or the women we want to be in them. We get to choose to love. We get to participate in the Greatest Story of all times – a story where Love wins. Mom. Dad. You loved so well. I’m so sorry. No parent should ever have to bury their child.

A mentor once told my wife Cherie and I, in every season someone will be the face of God to you. Look for Him.

It’s always a risk to mention names as I’m sure to forget. But I can’t help but to
mention a few.

Rusty, George. You were his fishing partners. You were the face of God to Lance.

Jimmy Kap, Mike, Ricky, Carson. You stood by his side and helped him turn his house into a home. You helped him finish his dream and one of his last great gifts for his beloved Francine, when he couldn’t do it himself. You were the face of God.

Cathy, Janet, Lynda. You took a huge risk. When he was compromised after his surgery, you fought for his dignity and allowed him to thrive, doing what he loved, as a real estate agent, to his last days. You were the face of God.

Jesse. You are a faithful friend. You kept showing up. And showing up. And showing up. You were the face of God.

Sheila, from Catholic Hospice. In the final days, you were the grandmother that every one of our hearts needed. You walked us through a seemingly un-navigable path. You were the face of God.

And there were so many others.

But, above all others, Francine, you were the face of God to our Lance –

Scripture says, “Greater love has no one than this. That they would lay their life down for a friend.” He was your best friend.

We were your witnesses. A thousand times a thousand. You laid your life down
Francine. You loved the man that came out of that surgery as much as the one that went in.

To his very last breath…

None of us really know what we are signing up for when we make those vows:

For better and for worse.
In sickness and in health.

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Francine, you fulfilled your vows like Michelangelo carving the Pieta.

A 28-year-old woman should never have to bear this much pain, sorrow. You did it sister. You did it with dignity, heroism, levity, grace… love beyond measure… and you never once even looked frumpy!

You have become a legend in our hearts. We “see you” Francine.

The last conversation we had with Lance that he was able to initiate, His words to us were, “If I die, Francine.”

In the end, all he talked about was you.

Francine. You have my word. You have the word of our family. You are loved. You are chosen. You are taken care of.

Above all else, Lance was a fisherman. He found something on the water that he found nowhere else in life. Some beauty, fellowship, adventure…. something that only now does he fully know was God himself. He experienced Psalm 23 out there on wild rivers and on ocean flats… “You lead me beside still waters and restore my soul.” His next great trip was to be Seychelles – arguably the most exotic place in the world to fly-fish. It’s a country that consists of 115 islands and host over 1000 species of fish, some of which can be found in only a few places in the world. It was the trip of a lifetime. His plans were dashed, as it was to happen shortly after he was diagnosed and he was unable to travel. We were able to reschedule seventeen months later. We did everything in our power to make it happen. He refused to buy travel insurance as it way his was to fight against the cancer. In the end the cancer
seem to have won.

One of the hardest moments of this journey was when I was filled with anticipation to present him with a brand new Sage rod and reel for his trip. On that particular day, I was holding the rod and reel when I approached him from behind. He was laying on the couch, and he was clutching his motionless right hand with his left, as though it was a foreign object. Never before that moment did it dawn on me that his tumor was on his left side, and that he would lose function on his right. In that moment I knew he would never fish again.

As I prayed for Lance, day after day, month after month, I was drawn back again and again to Revelation 22. In that, John tries as best he can to capture in word pictures the awesomeness of heaven as God allowed him to see it in a vision so that we could have hope and a glimpse of where our story was headed… One of the last conversations I had with Lance… we talked about the Big Waters… the River that’s talked about in Revelation. The River from which all other rivers flow.

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Revelation says that this majestic and wild river, sparkling like crystal, literally flows out of God Himself and it’s waters bring life. It was then that I realized all along in Lance’s heart, he thought he was preparing to fish the greatest waters this world has to offer. But little did he know that God was preparing his heart for even greater waters…

I never thought he’d beat us there, that he would be there so soon..

But leave it to Lance… I can’t wait to hear his stories of the fish that he caught… and even more to have him guide each of us on those waters, to show us the secret cut banks or where the fish are holding in deep runs… he’ll laugh as we hook into fish that make the most beautiful fish in all of creation look like a carp. I’m sure it will be one of his ways to say “thank you” and “welcome home” to each of us.

As I meditated I sensed that Revelation offers us a promise. A lifeline to hold on to as our hearts float on a raging sea…the promise is that one day, that all things will be made well (Rev. 21:5).

All things lost will be restored…Restored…

There will be no more tears… he will turn our mourning into laughing, into joy…

That Heaven is real. Death is a lie.

My favorite author on Heaven, C.S. Lewis, writes on the Great Crossing Over this way, in The Chronicles of Narnia

“Things began to happen that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them… death in this world was merely the beginning of their story. All their life and adventures in this world had only been the cover and the title page. Now at last they were beginning chapter one of the of the Great Story which no one on earth has read. Which goes on forever in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

Yet, still I find something deep inside of me demanding to know why? Why us? Why Francine? Why Lance? Why this?

I am beginning to learn as a mentor has shared, experience often does not furnish its own interpretation. While the questions seem reasonable, I’m learning, peace will never come through answers.

Rather I find myself at a crossroads. To choose between God and understanding. I know I can’t have both.

The night he crossed over, we found our entire family back together around his bed. Lance had now been motionless and totally unresponsive for almost three days.

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Bedside, we laughed and cried as we recounted again the love story of Lance and Francine.

And then came one of the most extraordinary moments of my life… better said, the most supernatural…

Lance’s head began to turn. We all watched, gaze fixed, and in awe. He opened his eyes, he looked at his beloved Francine, he turned fully back toward us, and then we listened as his spirit left his body and went home…

We all served witness…

In an odd and holy sort of paradox, we didn’t get the miracle we wanted but instead, Lance became our miracle…

We were all caught up into a Larger Story. A story of life versus death. A story of heroism, sacrifice, courage. A story of a thousand acts of love.

A story that united us in love.

In closing, I’d like to offer one final thought…

I find in Scripture God often urges people to make memorials so their hearts will remember what He did.

Two nights ago I found myself alone in the evening stillness in a field, asking
God, “How can we make a memorial in our hearts to honor what Lance was in our lives?”

He took me back to Psalm 23, Lance’s Psalm; “He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul…”

What I sensed from God was this; “I will lead each of you beside quiet waters. When you find yourself there, invite me to do what I love to do most, restore your soul…”

I invite you to pray with me…

God

My heart is broken.

We give our broken hearts to you.
We give you our sorrow, our anger, our tears, our unanswered questions.
We stand at an intersection. The story is messy but the choice is clear.
We can have understanding, or we can have You, but we can’t have both.
We confess, we choose you, as we have no where else to turn.

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You alone can heal. We ask for you to heal our broken hearts.

Come God.

Come into every ache and longing, every empty place in our lives, left by Lance, that you alone can fill.

Lead us all as you led Lance, beside still waters, and restore our souls.

Lance Perry Snyder
Brother ~ Husband ~ Son ~ Friend ~ Fisherman

We love you. We bless you. We release you to the Life that is Truly Life.

And we will see you again.

But not yet, not yet.

Amen.

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Colorado

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Chautauqua

Chautauqua

Final words for my brother

Hey everyone,

It’s Parker writing. My family will return to Warsaw on Sunday and we’ll get back into our lives so I may take a break from writing here to allow time to heal.

Foremost, I’d like to thank everyone on behalf of the Snyder and Costa families for the great outpouring of love in the wake of my brother’s passing. There were hundreds of people who came to the viewing and the funeral, and many more dropped off food, flowers and hugs. Thank you to each of you, and to those who read and mourned in silence. You are all very dear and thank you, simply, thank you.

I promised I’d post below the eulogy I read at St. Raphael’s church. Those are my final words for my brother. But I have a few final words for brain cancer. 

In the beginning I kind of wanted to hate the cancer. Like it was this foreign being that had landed on our planet and went about poisoning our drinking water. But as time wore on I realized that hating the cancer was silly because cancer is just cells in my brother’s body that multiplied in the wrong place. So I kind of forgave the cancer, and in my brother’s final days, the only thing that gave me any solace was to stroke his hair and touch his face and repeat to myself that I don’t hate you cancer. Only then could I release my pain to love his entire being. I guess that my be helpful to other people going through similar ordeals. 

EULOGY
Lance was the best of brothers, the greatest of friends. We grew up together, side by side. From birth, we sucked our passifiers together, still in our jammies.

At Thanksgiving, we’d tie together my Aunt’s shoelaces underneath the dining room table, so she’d trip when she stood up. Lance, for some time, went around on all fours, imitating a little dog, so we gave him the name spotty. Those are the kinds of things you can get away with when you’re still in your jammies. Isn’t that right Tristan?

Since we shared a room, we were each other’s counsel. Life’s greatest mysteries we’d resolve on our own without the aid of our parents. Like why is rain so loud at night? On clear nights, we’d lie awake beneath the milk white light of the moon that flooded our bedroom and was so rich it was like we had a friend keeping us company.

Our worlds, Lance’s world, and my world, was framed by a simple idea: anything is possible.

Years later when I traveled through Europe it came to me as no surprise that he would join me. We backpacked through southern Spain. For two guys, age 23 and 25, we had one goal: seek out the most beautiful women we could find.

One night, we came upon a courtyard where a woman was dancing flamenco in a long black dress. And that’s when the two of us were inititated into the greatest of life’s mysteries: beauty. 

It took a few more years before he found the most beautiful woman in the world – that’s you Francine.

Really, I don’t think there’s a better way to live, then to have a brother to lie awake with at night to make sense of things.

Last night, about 800 people came by to pay respects to my brother. Schoolmates from Fox Chapel. Colleauges of Francine who work for Giant Eagle. Members of the Howard Hanna family. Neighbors here in Morningside. Friends from Nancy’s homeless ministry. The outpouring of love has been very healing. It has helped us shoulder our grief. On behalf of the Costa and Snyder famillies thank you.

I heard a few things last night more often than others, and if I can take just a minute I’d like to give shape to my brother’s 30 years.

There were a few things I heard more often than others: Lance smiled alot. Lance had such dear blue piercing eyes. Lance was always laughing. You Snyder brothers look alot alike. He took us to see 23 houses and he never gave up on us. That’s the real estate agent I know…

Please, allow me to point out three things that I think shaped my brother’s fairytale:

– He was a baby born in summer. So when he was one year old, he took his first steps in the tall grass, beneath the summer sun. Lesson learned: falling isn’t a problem when you land on the soft grass. His family was his soft grass.

– When he was 10, the Penguins won the Stanley cup, twice. His heroes, Jaromir Jagr and Mario Lemiuex, acheived their dreams. This was another lesson: those who work hard get what they want.

– Lastly, when he graduated, his first job was with Pulte homes in Virginia, at the height of the real estate boom. Another lesson learned: there’s a future in housing.

But none of these good graces would have carried Lance if not for his generosity and charisma. It was his choice to volunteer with the homeless when he was 15 years old, to coach the Freshman hockey team when he was 25.

He was kind, gracious, caring, good-hearted, light in spirit, romantic, considerate – the best of qualities that earn you friends.

In closing, before I turn it over to my brother Morgan, I’d like to thank my brother Lance. Thank you for giving me 30 great years. There will be some who will say that your life got cut short. But not me.

When I need to, I will imagine us kayaking in the Pacific Ocean, up against the waves, the two of us battling the wind.

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[read with Morgan] You my brother are my sunshine, you are my sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey. You never know dear how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away.

PART 1 of 2. Morgan will share his in a few days.

Lance’s story

Hi everyone,
Lance’s obituary appeared in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette yesterday. The Tribune Review called Francine and a reporter did a short story that was printed today. I’m copying the text below to share with you. As a family, we are humbled that Lance’s volunteer work with the homeless would be highlighted. It would have been his wish that a greater story emerge from the sadness we all feel at his passing. As his brother, I will eulogize him tomorrow at St. Raphael’s church in Morningside, along with Morgan, so I will wait before I add my reflections to this blog after sharing with those so dear to come and shoulder our sorrow.

Parker

Real estate top seller had heart for homeless

By Bill Zlatos, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, April 16, 2012

Lance Snyder

Lance Snyder would sell millions of dollars worth of homes for Howard Hanna, then go Downtown at night and tuck in a homeless man.

“Here’s someone who sells a house but is the same person who knows what it’s like not to have a bed,” said Nancy Heil of Aspinwall, founder of an unnamed ministry for homeless people, for which Mr. Snyder volunteered. “But he would literally be the one to make that bed for him at night, lay a pad down, cover it with a sheet, give them a blanket and a pillow and actually tuck them in.”

Lance P. Snyder died of cancer on Friday, April 13, 2012, in his home in Aspinwall. He was 30.

He was born July 12, 1981, in O’Hara to Dr. Allen and Mary Ann Snyder. His father is a general surgeon.

Lance Snyder graduated from James Madison University with a bachelor’s degree in finance and real estate. After jobs with companies in Virginia, he returned home in 2006 and began working for Howard Hanna. There he became a multimillion-dollar producer, said his wife, Francine Snyder of Aspinwall.

“Lance never wrote anybody off,” she said. “He said, ‘I don’t care if they come in a beat-up car and old clothes. Those are the people who may have the most money, those who don’t flaunt it, as opposed to some people who will drive up in a Mercedes wearing the newest trend. They’re the ones in debt with no money to spend.'”

The couple met through her sister and brother-in-law, who were building a home in a development in which Mr. Snyder was involved. The couples went on a double date at the former Hot Metal Grille in the South Side. Mr. Snyder ordered fresh flowers for their table.

“He didn’t eat his dinner because he was so nervous,” his wife recalled.

On a trip to Ireland, Mr. Snyder had a horse-drawn carriage waiting for them outside their hotel. The carriage drove through Killarney and a national park where a boat took them to an island. The couple spread a blanket over a huge, sunlit rock for a picnic, and Mr. Snyder proposed on bended knee with an engagement ring in his hand and tears in his eyes.

The Snyders went kayaking and biking and traveled to eight countries, including Belize and the Czech Republic. But his special love since the age of 3 was fly-fishing.

“Where he would connect with God was on the water,” Francine Snyder said. “When Lance would fish, it would feed his soul.”

Mr. Snyder went fly-fishing abroad once or twice a year. On a trip to Guatemala, he caught a sailfish that weighed about 200 pounds and required two people to lift.

He became involved in the homeless ministry when he was about 15. Heil said he not only loaded the vehicle but distributed supplies to the homeless, connecting with them on a personal level. He gave them jokes or hugs, whatever they needed.

“He has a heart of compassion that you’ve never seen,” she said.

Besides his wife, survivors include his parents; a sister, Ashley Frankis of Baltimore; brothers Morgan of Colorado Springs and Parker of Warsaw; grandparents Patrick and Nancy McCarren of Butler; and nine nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. today in McCabe Bros. Funeral Home, 6214 Walnut St., Shadyside. Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday in St. Raphael Church, Morningside. Burial will be private.

The family suggests memorials be in the form of donations to the Pittsburgh Oratory, 4450 Bayard St., Pittsburgh, PA 15213, in the name of “homeless ministry.”

Read more: Real estate top seller had heart for homeless – Pittsburgh Tribune-Reviewhttp://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/obituaries/news/s_791470.html#ixzz1sDlE8fcg

A Blessed, Holy Goodbye

Dear Friends and Family,

Our precious Lance is free.  Last night at approximately 10:00pm he passed very comfortably and peacefully while at home surrounded by his entire family.

After lying completely still and unresponsive for two days, his head began to turn.  We all looked on in astonishment as his eyes opened and he fixed his gaze on Francine, who was seated on the couch to his right, holding his hand the entire night.  He then very slowly moved his head back to a forward facing position, closed his eyes, and took his last quiet breath.

It was beautiful and gentle.  Perfectly scripted. One hundred six Virginia Avenue was Holy Ground.

We cried and we embraced as we released our beloved Lance into the arms of our Heavenly Father.

This story is not over; we are at a pause.  Thank you for meeting us here at our time and place of need to share in our sorrow and grief.  We all feel blessed indeed to be surrounded and upheld by so much love and prayer.

Please use the comment field of this post as “guest book” to share messages or sentiments with Lance’s wife, Francine,  and his parents, Mary Ann and Allen, and the rest of the Snyder and Costa families.

Thank you kindly.  On behalf of Francine and her families I close,

ashley

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Arrangements:

This Monday from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 guests will be received at McCabe Brothers Funeral Home on Walnut Street in Shadyside.  The funeral Mass will be celebrated on Tuesday at St. Raphael Catholic Church in Morningside (time to  be announced).  A private burial will follow.

Lance’s obituary will be printed in the the Sunday and Monday issues of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

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Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.  So with you:  Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.  In that day you will no longer ask me anything.  John 16:20,22-23 

NOT THE LAST SMILE…Still Holding my Son’s Hand…

Written March 25, 2012 by Mary Ann Snyder

The calendar said it was officially still winter, but the weather declared summer.  This past week we had a short summer with 80 degree days, cloudless skies, the warmth of the sun…Lance and Francine’s home adorned with signs of new life in the form of tiny buds, emerging tulips and cherry blossoms towering over a lavender carpet of blooming myrtle.  Lance sharing lunch with friends on his back deck.  Summer in March…A gift from God for my summer son and his mother’s heart.

Lance’s beloved Francine always at his side…a sudden trip to the ER…another MRI…the diagnosis repeated…her eyes…his eyes…

On a similar sunny, warm Friday in October, 18 months ago in the same ER, the Dr. spoke these words, “This isn’t what I wanted to tell you.”  Now we are told:  “Treatment is no longer working; the tumor has spread.  We will make him comfortable.”

I have learned your heart can break in silence or in the midst of beeping monitors in a busy hospital.  When the heart breaks, a beautiful thing occurs–love is released in abundance.  The constant outpouring of affection, care, concern, and prayer from near and far has truly sustained all of us…And as so much love is released into the atmosphere, it gently falls down as answered prayer.  Our family experienced these prayer showers in many unexpected ways on a regular basis…Jesus truly showed up daily…He has walked with us and has provided us with Daily Bread.

This is a heart trembling story of cancer taking our Lance.  But I want you to know of the beautiful love story I have witnessed daily within this affliction…a story of pure love, hopes and dreams turned upside down…Lance’s beautiful young bride becomes his extraordinary caregiver.

A medical advocate, taking charge, scheduling appointments, treatments, keeping up with other family medical situations, loving nieces and nephews, running the pharmacy and arranging her schedule to have her day off on treatment days, accompanying Lance and his dad on an exotic fishing trip to Belize after radiation, planning a surprise 30th birthday party for her prince, accepting her mother-in-law’s constant presence and concerns, never once losing patience…and all with grace and a smile…Yes, this young woman is loving and gracious beyond her 28 years; I have witnessed the love of 50 years packed into 2&1/2 years…The true, pure, sacrificial love we know as agape love.  

This is the gift we have been given from our daughter Francine…That she loves our Lance so well…And Francine, we couldn’t love you more!  God placed you and Lance together for a love larger than life and we all have been blessed.  May the Lord honor you for your faithfulness.

Our children made continuous trips home long distance to spend time with Lance, to help him with finishing house projects, to encourage Francine, to assist Allen with business, and simply hold his parents’ hearts.  My children, you are loving, heroic, and sacrificial…Your father and I love you forever and a day…

The prayer chains of friends, families, churches, and even those we have never met.  What a beautiful “cushion” to catch us…We are forever grateful.  Know we have returned prayers for you…

Ricky, Mike, Brent, and Jimmy for their friendship and expertise in finishing Lance’s basement with him…Seeing his designs become reality.  How can we thank you enough??!

For Howard Hanna Real Estate–Lance’s employer–for their kindness, patience, and love shown to our son as he continued to work and to those agents who helped him close his sales…Our deepest gratitude…

For all the new friends and shared stories we take from this journey.  Thank you.

For Catholic Hospice.

As the ER felt like the sinking Titanic, I remember the final scene of the movie when Rose walks up the steps to Jack to the applause of all…Yes!  Restoration will come to each of our small stories in the Divine Romance of eternity when all our broken hearts will be restored by our Father and all things will be made new (Rev 21:5).

At this time of year I remember another Mother who gave her Son in the name of love.  If I keep her heart in my mind’s eye, I can accept the will of God, even without understanding.  As St. Augustine said, “Faith is believing what we cannot see, so one day we will see what we have believed.”  Mystery.

Father Richard Rohr has helped me to understand if we don’t let pain transform us, we will surely transmit it…Reflect on this…Continue with that love and those prayers in a very hurting world and you will make a difference as you have done for the Snyder Family.  May all of our sorrow and loss be turned into compassion.

Life, suffering, death, resurrection.  The Easter story.  Our story.  Mercy.  Glory.  Gratitude for our beloved son, our Lancelot with the kind heart…that wonderful smile…that twinkle in those beautiful blue eyes…You are so loved…

                                               –Your grateful mom

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“Making peace with change is at the core of every journey”                                                                                                           

                                                Paula D’Arcy

 

 

Homecomings

Words cannot express the gratitude our family has for Morgan who has been in Pittsburgh for about a week now, being the most amazing brother to Francine.  He once told her, “Francine, you’ve never had a brother; but you have one now.  And this is forever.”  He has sat with her, walked with her, grieved with her, and has helped her make some very hard decisions.

Catholic hospice has been wonderful.  They provide care and assistance on so many different levels.  They bring comfort by explaining what is happening and why.  It’s amazing how once strangers can be so quickly and naturally drawn into the circle of love surrounding Lance.

Francine, Mom, and Dad are at peace; they are being so strong.  Morgan too; he is “our rock.”  To be quite honest, I cannot imagine being there right now, as I am still in Baltimore preparing to go home.

Julia and I arrive Sunday, as do Parker, Kasia, and Tristan.  Bob, Garrett, and Ryan will join us on Thursday.  I have not heard yet from Cherie what she, Joshua, and Abigail plan to do.  Please pray for safe travels and divine intervention, as we all reunite with Lance who is in a much more fragile state than when we all last saw him.

Thank you.

With love from all of the Snyders,

ashley

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Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread…

Matthew 6:10,11

Home Sweet Home

Lance and Francine are so happy to be home and watching the Pens game.  (Thank God the Pens are still in it; this has been one of Lance’s favorite things to watch on TV.)  Mom, Dad, and Bob are also with him.  Bob will leave tomorrow and Morgan will arrive Monday.  It has been so nice that, more or less, the siblings and spouses have taken turns spending time in Pittsburgh.  It’s good for Mom and Dad to have us around; Lance and Francine enjoy it too (although I have to think a little part of Francine’s very generous and good natured self is maxxed out on family 🙂  “Nooo,” she would say.  She always has an open heart and open door for all of us.  Thank you, Francine.

Lance is “doing well; holding steady,” in Francine’s words.

Again, we are thankful for yet another good night.

Lovingly,

ashley

A Good Night

And it is.  Lance and Francine have settled in to sleep at the hospital.  Mom, Dad, and Bob have gone back to 1201.  And the rest of us are breathing a sigh of relief that this day has come to a close.  Tomorrow will tell more. 

Indeed, this has been so hard and so sad.  But so beautiful.  A true love story.  Francine is simply an Earth Angel.  She is amazing–beyond words.  She has NEVER left Lance’s side.  She does whatever is required.  And ALWAYS wears a smile and has a sparkle in her eye.  NEVER ONCE, throughout this whole ordeal, has she said, “What about me?”  NOT ONCE.  You really have to see it to believe it. 

Francine, WE LOVE YOU.  WE ADORE YOU.  How can we ever express the full depth of gratitude we have for you–for your real and sacrificial and unconditional love for Lance?  Thank you, Francine, for over the past couple weeks opening up your home so very graciously and generously to family and friends.  Thank you for allowing so many people to come and visit.  Thank you for the gift of you.

God of peace…God of mercy…God of deliverance come. 

Good night,

ashley

—When it is dark outside, you can see the stars—