Thursday, June 5, 2014

Rest in Peace, My Sweet Husband

To know Dan was to love him.  To be in his presence was to be loved.  On May 17, my world stopped when Dan took his last breath that ended his 33 years of life, his five year battle with leukemia, and our four years of marriage.  My hopes (our hopes), my dreams (our dreams), my vows to him (our sacred marriage vows), were abruptly shattered in the quietest hours of the day. That morning, I became a widow at the age of 29.  I won't share the intimate details of our last days and hours with Dan, but I will share that they were precious, beautiful, and peaceful.

Believe me when I say I am happy Dan is no longer suffering.  Trust that I find comfort in knowing he is in Heaven.  The fear is gone.  The countless specialists, the sleepless nights, the endless trips to the pharmacy and texts to our doctor, the relentless procedures and treatments, the neverending side effects, reactions, infections - all came to a sudden halt on May 17th in the early hours of the morning.  But I miss Dan.  I miss our life, albeit "crazy", "difficult", full of medical expenses instead of social life expenses, full of cancer milestones instead of our children's milestones.  I miss quiet nights in our apartment watching Jeopardy! or reality television and eating snacks after a procedure or chemo.  I miss the clinic at Georgetown socializing with our doctor/nurse/tech/receptionist friends and the hem-onc unit that became a second home.  I miss catching up with the pharmacist and filling him in on Dan's latest ailment, chemo regimen, or "close call."  I miss watching Dan's physical therapy and the cute little smirk he shot me when I took his picture to post on social media.  I miss searching for recipes to alleviate a side effect, balance a vitamin deficiency, or beef up his weakening muscles, and then the look on his face when it turned out well (or gross).  I miss his hugs. I miss his laugh. I miss his beautiful smile. I miss his advice, his friendship, his company.  I miss our nightly ritual of holding each other and our "all will be well because we're in love" assurance. I miss Dan.

On May 17th in the darkest hours of the morning, I lost my husband.  For just over four years, I was Dan's proud wife.  From the first day, nothing about our marriage was ordinary.  Dan took chemo pills and we postponed a honeymoon until he was stronger, healthier.  We never had more than a four week stretch without a doctor's appointment and no more than ten doctorless days in a row in the last two years.  Dan got and was cured of cancer three times in the last two years. He defied statistics for all of our marriage. Cancer dictated what we could and couldn't do.  Cancer made us miss weddings, showers, bachelor/ette parties, get-togethers, vacations, baseball games, and birthday parties.  Cancer made Dan postpone his PhD program three times in four years. We talked about cancer a lot.  We promised it wouldn't affect our happiness, our love, or our faith.  We wouldn't let stress make us irritable.  We wouldn't allow fear to hold us prisoner.  We wouldn't let hospital stays, sickness, or the financial burden of treatment make us argue about petty things.  Dan and I were the happiest married couple I know. Cancer, and all it brought with it, was all we knew as a couple.  It didn't define us, but it certainly shaped our marriage, our commitment, our faith and our love. From the very first day, our marriage was extraordinary.

Dan is gone, I am a widow. On May 17th, everything changed.  The proverbial rug was pulled from beneath me and I'm left to sort out the mess. I'm left alone, scared, sad, overwhelmed, defeated, and even angry. I know I have the tools to find happiness again.  If you read this blog you know that Dan and I, as a couple, faced more adversity, trials and tribulations than many endure in a lifetime.  You also know that we were happy.  We found joy. We recognized the horrible things right in front of us, but we focused on and lived among the good things all around us. People always ask me how we did it, how we always "seemed so happy" despite all we had "going on".  We made a commitment to live life to the fullest. We learned, together, that there is good, there is joy, all around.  It wasn't frivolous, it wasn't for show, and it certainly wasn't pretend. It was genuine, real, true joy.  I plan to approach this grief process the same way I approached the cancer process.  I read and researched a lot, I learned a lot, I reached out a lot, and I loved a lot.  Sure, I can get caught up on how this is not fair, how much life we missed out on together, how sorry I am that Dan died, that he suffered, that I'm suffering, we're suffering (yes, I have found myself dwelling on that at times).  But I know that's not how Dan would do it. That's not how we would do it. We would let ourselves cry, hold each other close, say "I love you" and then look around.  We'd find something good. We'd have a snack, watch a show, cuddle, or take a drive.  I don't have to search far to find good in this world.  I am surrounded by so many loving friends and family.  People from all over the world have reached out to express their condolences and share their memories with Dan. I am humbled. I'm inspired. I miss Dan.

I'm so proud to have been Dan Lyons' wife.  Despite it ALL, they were the best four years, one month, and seven days of my life.  I will never forget what Dan taught me, what we learned together.  I will always remember his love, his smile, his laugh, his faith.  I will carry him with me until my last breath.  I will find happiness and I will continue to notice the little joys around me. I will remember that ALL will be well.

The first blossom on Dan's rose bush


  1. Hi Hanna, I have been reading your blog and I'm truly touched and inspired by your courage, faith and the love between you and Dan. This may be unexpected, but I want to thank you. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for putting life into perspective. We have never met, but you have both made an impact on how I will live each day. Thank you for the reminder to find the joy that is around me - it really is everywhere.

    I would like to share this with you: I am doing a 5K this weekend in Lemoyne. This is my second event with Team in Training through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Central PA. I have raised over $5300 for LLS over those two events. I just wanted you to know that I will be adding Dan's name to my jersey this weekend and will be completing the 5K in his honor. Again, your story is an inspiration and I will continue to raise funds to stop these dreadful diseases. I will also continue to pray for you and your family. #ihonordanlyons

  2. Wow, this is an incredibly beautiful post Hanna. I have never met Dan, and I only met you briefly in high school but we pray for you every night. We know Dan is in heaven but we feel heartbroken for your loss here on earth. We think about you and we hope that you continue to share the healing process. You and Dan have touched so many lives with your incredible faith and humility. It's small, but a little anecdote about the way Dan is shaping lives of people he never met...I am terrified of flying overseas, and I have to in about a week. I have found that every time I worry about it, I think about how Dan traveled the world and how he didn't let fear take away his faith. I am channeling Dan on this flight and I want you to know I already have felt immense peace when I pray and think of Dan's legacy. He is already working in heaven to heal our worldly fears here on earth, and I really and truly believe that he will help me get through the flight. I wish you so much peace, Hanna. All our love and prayers, Mary

  3. Hanna, I'm so glad that you are still posting on here and on the FB page. I often check the fb page to make sure I didn't miss one of your posts. I love reading your words. In a strange way I find them comforting. I find myself thinking of you often and praying that you are not alone. I know that Dan is with you always but having a physical presence helps. Continue to know that you AND Dan are inspiring ppl you have never met to live a life more complete, less fearful, and with more happiness and joy. That is not something many people can say or accomplish.
    I con't to pray for you daily and send loving thoughts and hugs.

  4. Hanna, I agree with Brooke. Thank you for keeping us posted on how YOU are doing because we love and care about you, too! Please know that we are all here for you and are continuing to pray for you daily. We will all keep Dan's memory alive by taking care of and loving each other. All will be well.

  5. Dear Hanna,
    You don't know me, I am a friend of Jennifer and Jeff Crum. I prayed for you and your husband months ago. Since Jen told me of Dan's passing, I have been praying for you many times. Various times throughout the day, your name comes to my mind and I continue to pray for you. I cannot even begin to imagine your grief. I pray for comfort for you and strength and courage for your days. Your blog certainly brought tears to my eyes, but it was the end that truly made me cry. I lost my Mom a few weeks ago, she would be 91 today. In fact she is probably the angel that is prompting me to pray so often for you, she is so sweet and dear. Heaven rejoiced the day she arrived as I am sure it did when Dan arrived there too. In my Mom's final weeks, those pains, small problems, etc., whenever we took care of them, she would say, "It's Okay." That has become our family mantra, "It's Okay." It will be Okay for you too Hanna in time. The Psalms say that "Joy comes in the Morning." I hope that your mornings come soon. I will continue to pray for you as many others are doing. God bless you Hanna. Kathleen Morgan