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“If You Want to Make God Laugh, Make Plans”

My husband waiting for the hospital to have a bed for him. Our cat, Diamond, stared into his face for two hours.

My husband, Lance, waited two hours for the hospital to have a bed for him. Our cat, Diamond, stared into his face intently. She sensed something was wrong.

I had plans.

I had finally finished my book, The Therapist Writer, and it was now up on Amazon.com, Kindle and BN.com. My plan was to start marketing it like mad right after Thanksgiving. My husband (Lance) and I also planned to move into a new house after 23 years in our current place. In addition, my plans included (probably wishful thinking) making enough money in 2013 from my writing to allow Lance to work part-time so he could spend more time on his passions — computers, music and soccer.  He has allowed me to enjoy my passion (writing) for years, so fair’s fair.

It seemed like a good plan.

At his office, Lance is missed. He worked there for 30 years.

At his office, Lance is missed. He has worked there for thirty years.

Then, right after Thanksgiving, Lance got a cold, then the flu, then pneumonia, then the hospital, then a staggering stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis (it must have been lurking there quite a while; he’d never go to a doctor), then back to the hospital and 18 hours in ER with a major heart attack, then ICU, then some strokes, then kidney failure. We spent Christmas Eve, our 28th wedding anniversary, and New Year’s Eve in ICU. By then he couldn’t speak.  We all (his three sons, my two daughters and our many friends) said our goodbyes in Lance’s good ear. Then he died in the wee hours of the morning on January 2nd, 2013.

Lance in Hospital After Cancer Diagnosis But Before Heart Attack

Lance in the hospital the first time, right after his cancer diagnosis, but before the heart attack that did him in. His philosophy has always been positive: “It is what it is and I’ll do what it takes.”

It all happened in the space of three weeks.

I am reeling. I am blind-sided. I am devastated over the loss of this good man. We had such a splendid, comfortable marriage, and for that I am deeply grateful.

Looking back on 2012, I realize that Lance really had a “bucket list” year.  He was born in Denmark (he became a U.S. citizen some years ago) and last August he took a trip back home for a school reunion. He got to see his Danish brothers, step-mother and his huge, extended family.

Lance's Cousin Jorgen Flies to LA from Denmark to Surprise Lance on his 70th Birthday

Lance’s cousin Jorgen (left) flew to L.A. from Denmark to surprise Lance on his 70th Birthday. Lance’s son Steven looks on, relieved we the surprise worked

He came back home and in October he had his 70th birthday.  His cousin Jorgen flew to L.A. with his granddaughter, Victoria, age 11, to help Lance celebrate the occasion. We had a big family party at a local restaurant and Lance stood up and gave a speech expressing his gratitude and love for his family and for his life, saying he got to do so many of the things he loved — he played soccer and music professionally, then worked with computers. One of my daughters gave him tickets to see the LA Galaxy, so Lance and I went to the game– new stadium, perfect night and the LA Galaxy won.

Part of Lance's Last Bucket List Year -- We Went to a Soccer Game and the Galaxy Won

Part of Lance’s last “Bucket List ” year — we went to a soccer game and the LA Galaxy won

My plans have now changed.  We are planning a memorial service. I am planning to move into an apartment to be nearer my grandchildren, 5 and 8. As I pack, every item in the house reminds me of Lance, and our cat still looks for him and sniffs at the garage door in case he’s on the other side, coming home.

The memories of my husband are all good — except for that last part in the hospital in ICU which was hell.

A Very Sad Cat After Lance's Death

A very sad cat after Lance’s death

Lance, I  hope they have computers, jazz and soccer in heaven so you’re having the good time you deserve. I love you and thank you for giving your family such a wonderful life. Goal!

copyright Sylvia Cary, LMFT

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14 responses to ““If You Want to Make God Laugh, Make Plans”

  1. Dear Sylvia: Thanks for sharing your tribute, heart, and loss. May your future be bright with your grandchildren, family, and friends as you wind your way through life’s laborious labyrinth.Love, Dan

  2. Dear Sylvia, I send my heart and all it can hold to you and your family. We’re fortunate that you’re a chronicler, so we can all share the joy of Lance’s wonderful year and get a glimpse of your happiness together. I’m so glad you had all those years with him, so happy that the article in Newsweek was wrong. xx Gretch and Sam

    • Hi Gretchen,
      I never saw this comment. My blog was getting spammed like mad so I was advised to turn off the comments, so I haven’t even checked them. I decided to check them tonight and found some lovely emails, including yours. Let me thank you at this late date. Talk to you soon, Sylvia

  3. Dear Sylvia,
    You brought tears to my eyes. What a great tribute to a wonderful husband. I’m so sorry.

  4. Lisa de Vincent

    Sylvia, I heard the news from Flo, and feel your pain, it’s even harder to lose someone at this time of year. The tribute is wonderful and the title is perfect. I wish you peace and recovery from this heartbreaking ordeal.

    • Dear Lisa,
      Thank you so much. And my apologies for my delay in responding. I was getting spammed — a 1000 or more — and I cut off the comments for a while and just decided tonight to check the blog and found so many lovely communications. Thank you so much for your wonderful words. I really appreciate it.
      My very best, Sylvia

  5. Jessica Eve Hartman

    Dear Mom,
    That’s a very touching tribute to Lance and I really enjoyed reading it. Poor Diamond.

    • Hi Sweetie,
      Thank you and yes, poor Diamond. She still looks for him. She used to greet him at the garage door every night. Thank you for emailing me. That’s sweet.
      Love, Mom

  6. Dear, dear Sylvia,
    I keep reading your blog and hope it will change, that I only dreamed I had read it. So sorry. Lance will, no, is missed. Elaine

  7. Dear Sylvia,

    I am so saddened by your loss that it’s difficult to type. We truly don’t know which day, week, month… will be our last.

    I’m encouraged that your husband lived his last year with such spirit and drive and I hope you continue to do the same.

    I hope that you can find some comfort with your children and grandchildren as they are part of him.

    I’m grateful that our paths crossed and I will be thinking about you and your family in this difficult time.

    Lesley

    • Oh Lesley, what a lovely email. I appreciate it so much. I, too, am so glad our paths crossed and I still have the photos from that night I took my granddaughter, Lily, then 8, to the ballet — thanks to you for your tickets! I have been following your trip to Africa with fascination. What stunning visuals! I am delighted you are back on THIS coast and perhaps our paths will cross again. My very best, Sylvia

  8. Dear Sylvia, you so touched my heart. I am so sorry for your loss in the beginning of this new year. May your memories be the happy ones that overtake the less pleasant…best to you and your family, Elisabeth

  9. dianewordsmith

    So sorry for your loss. I stumbled on your blog after googling “small bookstores.” I read several of your posts and enjoyed them immensely.

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