Year 2, Still Hard


Posted by Danny

It’s been two years this week, and I find myself flipping through an internal slide show of the days surrounding her death.  Most of my memories of Lisa bring a smile.  This week, just tears.

One week before she died, the girls left for their annual President’s Day beach trip with friends.  Lisa said goodbye – for the last time.  She stood by the stairwell – DJ headed upstairs wearing a t-shirt and her undies. 

“Great.  My last thought of DJ will be of her butt.”

“They’ll be home on Thursday baby.”

“I know…”

And she did.  She knew this was likely the last time she’d see her children.  

When they left last Sunday, I was tossed right back.  Two years?  Or just yesterday?

I remember my parents coming to her hospital room three days before she died.  She told them she loved them, and that they had raised a good boy.  My mom cried.  I wondered why in the hell she was talking like that.  She knew, but I didn’t.

That same day, she went from walking to the bathroom in the cancer ward to not being able to stand in the neuro-ICU.  How could her physical condition deteriorate in such a very short time?  I recall the look on her face – “Danny, I can’t walk.”  The panic ensued, for both of us.

I had an anxiety attack the next day.  I had never had a situation in life that I couldn’t control.  I wanted to fix things, but I simply could not.  What a failure, I thought.  I’m a weak man.  My prayers, my actions – they’re just not enough. 

I picture the car ride to Duke for Stephanie’s last visit with her mom.  She asked me, “What if you and mom die, who would take care of me?”  A valid question from a fragile fourth grader.  Your innocence is gone.

The call at 1 am from my mother-in-law:  “Come now.  There’s not much time.”  I remember standing in my closet picking out a dress to put on my sweet wife’s body.  I chose her short black one with the little crop jacket.  She did look good in that dress.

We held hands around her bed and prayed for our Lisa.  Our nurse so touched, he cried along with us.

The morning she died, my friend Gordon stood in my kitchen, khakis and blue blazer.  I thought to myself, “Wow – Gordon’s here.  I wonder why he isn’t at work.”

Her mother typed her obituary as I recanted stories – the high points of her life – there were many.

As I walked to the sanctuary to honor my wife’s life’s work, I grabbed the hand of my old friend Mo.  Hadn’t seen her in years.  I was touched that she came. 

Michelle fell asleep during the memorial service, emotionally and physically exhausted.

The morning my parents left town, and I was alone – really, really alone.

The pain subsides – but not this week.  We relive it again, and we still miss our Lisa.

Leave a comment


  1. george

     /  February 22, 2012

    Beautiful and sad write-up, and I’m sure this will always be a week of tears. I hope as well you will all remember high points that you shared with Lisa’s mother that day. Prayers with you and your family this week.

  2. Dear Danny….

    I don’t read your posts as much anymore, but for some reason I decided to put some time in. I am so glad that I did, because I would have missed a VERY important message about life. I am so thankful that God pressed on my heart and spoke to me saying “Her life is still very much alive”. Glory in heaven for Lisa since she was such a good servant in her time. Her stories continue to spread grace through the land. What a blessing. How nice iit is to know that her struggles on earth are bringing so many souls closer to God. Danny…. your love is evident. I will try to be a better husband today because of God working through your weakness. God Bless.

  3. Fran Yohman

     /  February 22, 2012

    Yes, we do miss her and love all of you.

  4. David M.

     /  February 22, 2012

    Prayers for you and your little girls, Bruce.

  5. Mom

     /  February 22, 2012

    I think I remember every day of that week. I, too, have thought about it all week and felt the need to be with you. I find myself saying to people, “she did a lot of things right that last few weeks” and she did. She must have known that she could not live that way, nor did she want to. We will remember the “right things” she did, and there were many, especially with those girls. What a good job she did with them! I see evidence of it each time we are there.
    You both have been amazing parents. We are all proud of you because of the way you have waded through this awful situation. You ARE are strong man, and a good one.

  6. Aunt Susan

     /  February 22, 2012

    Well I was wondering when it would hit me, I think it was today driving home. I will never forget 5 phone calls in my life, and they all deal with someone dear and special passing. I was at my desk at 6:45am when her dad called, I knew because my cell rang funny.
    Your right the pain does subside, but it comes roaring back too. But it will ease off again, and we have our memories. the girls are strong thoughtful young women because of her, and they will be her legacy to the world.You are doing an awsome job helping them grow. I just wish it didn’t hurt so much.

  7. Brought tears to my eyes, my friend. God’s strength comes through at our times of weakness. Praying for you and your daughters.

  8. Susan

     /  February 24, 2012

    Hugs and kisses – to each and every one of you – tough week for sure. I can’t speak for Lisa but I imagine as a mom she would be touched and proud of each one of you and the way you continue to LIVE (Christmas play), LAUGH (DJ’s dress) and LOVE through your pain. It honors her and you.

  9. Paige Treichler

     /  February 24, 2012

    You know Bruce, I know my heart is heavy today as I can only imagine the rest if you all. I got a new phone recently and I have re-entering all my contacts from the old to the new. I found myself sobbing when I got to Lisa’s info. I never deleted it then And so felt awkward not putting her info into the new. So I put yours…so expect a phone call or something from me at some point.

    Your blog is chock full of blessings and I am very grateful that you can share it all with your sense if style and humor. Cheers to you!! Many hugs to you and the girls!

    • Danny Tanner

       /  February 26, 2012

      i still have numbers of other friends who have passed. a phone number is a difficult thing to let go.

  10. Leigh Ann Middleton

     /  February 25, 2012

    I’m so sorry. I don’t know what else to say. It’s hard for me to believe it’s been 2 years. Even though Lisa and I were not good friends, we did know each other from St. Timothy’s and I had so much respect for her. She was a great mom. I’m so far removed from St. Tim’s now but I still think of her as a part of it. I remember getting that phone call about her. I knew what it was about before I even answered it. Unbelievable. You are doing a great job raising those beautiful girls. Thanks for sharing your journey.


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