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


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

                                                Paula D’Arcy



12 responses to “NOT THE LAST SMILE…Still Holding my Son’s Hand…

  1. Helen and Phil

    Beyond beautiful ~ God’s love, mercy, and the tender “Everlasting Arms” hold you all. One great day.. what a sweet celebration there will be.. “Because He lives, we can face tomorrow” knowing the final enemy is defeated and there is resurrection. One joyous day…

  2. The Zulick Family

    To the Snyder Family….
    God Bless you for your heartfelt messages which have helped all of us who are watching from afar. Your faith and strength have been a glorious inspiration to many. Our family continues to have Lance and his loved ones in our prayers. May God’s love and this beautiful sunshine give you peace and warmth.
    The Zulick Family

  3. After reading Lance’s mother’s letter today, I realize how he became the wonderful boy we all came to love at Howard Hanna.

  4. Mary Ann — It’s Good Friday. These days in Holy Week unsettle our hearts no matter how life is unfolding. I have been aware of Jesus’ love for me and been in love with Him for almost 30 years. Ken and I have had the honor of being in ministry for 18 years. We have been honored to experience so much of the life and hearts of others. But your words today sink deeper roots into my heart than I have known before, as to the reason for these days. Our kind Father has given such eyes to your heart. May He continue to give hope to your heart, in ways so intimate that there is no question. Thank you for the sacrifice of this offering of words; your loaves and fishes are feeding a multitude with life.
    At his feet on your behalf,
    Sallie Ross
    Colorado Springs

  5. That was so beautifully written! thank you for sharing your heart and inviting us in. Praying for all of you!!- Much Love to the Synder family.

  6. Colleen Gomolekoff

    Snyder family,

    I am Walt’s oldest sister Colleen and my son husband and I are constantly praying for all of you. I am a nurse and mostly worked in long term care and I would give anything to see a cure for cancer in my lifetime. I am so sorry for all of the suffering your family has endured. I saw Lance last at my brother’s wedding. I remember how supportive your entire family was when my step mom died. My love and prayers are with you and may God give all of you strength to get through this terrible time. You will always have the love of your family. God bless all of you.


    Colleen Kalista Gomolekoff

  7. Susan Glendenning

    I have been blessed in my life’s journey to meet some remarkable people.
    Through Meals on Wheels the selflessness of the volunteers never ceases to amaze me. I think it can’t compare to Mary Ann’s strength, and unbelievable faith. I am in awe of her fierce Mother’s love and unshakable faith.Sending love and prayers to the entire family,
    Susan Glendenning

  8. kathy counihan vertosick

    Heartbreaking. Inspiring. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing Mary Ann. We continue to lift your family up in prayer. Kathy Counihan Vertosick

  9. Nonnie Santelli

    Mary Ann and The Beautiful Snyder family.
    Reading your beautiful note and this very difficult journey that you are enduring is remarkable and heartfelt. Your writing is full of love and devotion. I want you to know that the Santelli family is in awe with respect for you and your family. We pray everyday for all of you and want you to know you do not walk alone.

    We have always loved your Lance! God bless you all!
    Nonnie Santelli

  10. Holly and Bob Zulick

    To the Snyder Family
    God Bless you for your heartfelt messages which have helped all of us who are watching from afar. Your faith and strength have been a glorious inspiration to many. Our family continues to have Lance and his loved ones in our prayers. May God’s love and this beautiful sunshine give you peace and warmth.
    The Zulick Family

  11. What beautiful words! The Vigrass family is not surprised by the magnitude of love and prayer is being given to your family. Just knowing all of you it is easy to understand where the strength is coming from in this time of sorrow. Hold fast to the love that surrounds you both here on earth and from our heavenly Father.

  12. Theresa Puharic

    Sincere condolences from a sister in Christ. You are indeed an inspiration to the world. Lance is smiling down on all of you right now. I am sure our dear Lord is also so pleased with you all for your faith and testimony to his great love for us. May Jesus continue to shower you with his peace.

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