Last week, my dear friend Lynne Snyder died.
When my daughter approached me, her face had this look like–how do I tell Mom? I knew another person had died. But Lynne? She was just diagnosed with leukemia. How could this be?
Don’t think you know Lynne? She’s the person who commented so often here on the blog. Always words of encouragement. Man, am I going to miss seeing what she thinks of what Ann Dee or Kyra or I have written.
I love Lynne and I will miss her. She was funny, extremely kind, and man, had she hoed the road. I remember she told me she walked around for a week–in agony–having no idea she had a broken leg (had she broken her femur?). Her writing was incredible. I met her years ago when someone trashed her work–along with the work of many other writers–and she was determined to never write a gain. Then I read her stories. I was blown away. So much talent. She painted (watercolor) and made caramels that would make you cry, they were so good. But what she did best was love people. All people. No matter who they were or what they did. She opened her arms to the world. Lucky for me, I made it into those arms.
I asked a dear friend, DeAnn Campbell to say a few things about Lynne. Here is her tribute.
Years ago, when I lived in Utah, Carol Lynch Williams introduced me to Lynne Snyder. “You should be in a writing group together,” she told us. And so we were. Our small group of three and sometimes four met weekly. We wrote, we critiqued, but we also loved and laughed and cried and shared each other’s lives. I once heard an author say that all writing in its heart is about loss. Now we’ve lost our beloved Lynne Snyder.
I will tell you that she was witty and funny. She had a great, big open heart. She was a whiz in the kitchen. She painted beautiful watercolor paintings. Her family was her everything and she loved everyone she met. She was a writer. Lynne had had her share of loss and she wrote about it, beautifully. She had a lot to share as a writer, but the part of herself that she shared as a person was always greater than what she gave as a writer. Because of this, there are no published books with her name on the cover. I don’t know if her essays and writings are hidden in notebooks in a drawer somewhere, or on a hard drive or if they’re in a sampling of letters in a shoebox. Knowing Lynne, they are probably in all of those places, scattered like feathers.
Lynne wrote amazing stories. Some were poignant, like the one about the death of her baby and the dream she had of that baby – a dream that taught her how to keep living after such loss. Some were funny, like when she almost ate an entire cake and so she baked another before her husband came home from work. Some were difficult, like the story of when her first father took off in an airplane while her mother begged him not to go; he died when that airplane crashed. Although Lynne wrote fiction her personal essays, the stories of her own life and losses, were especially beautiful.
In “The Lonely Man” Louis L’Amour wrote, “And if I have not written words upon paper as I should like to have done, I have written large upon the page of life that was left open to me.” That was our Lynne. And I wonder if is it okay not to write grandly or far-reaching. Not all of us will publish or have our names in lights. Maybe for some of us the writing is simply for the sorting out of our own souls. Maybe the writing is to help us navigate the loss, the difficulties, and even the joy that comes to us all. Those sorts of personal stories were Lynne’s greatest writings and I was lucky enough to have heard some of them. Not all who knew her were able to read her stories, but all who knew her were the recipient of her great love, her great generosity, and her ability to take you as you are. There was never any judgment or trying to fix you. There was just candid, honest conversation and love. So much love.
To know Lynne was to love her. She was famous for homemade caramels and bottles of delicious sun-dried tomatoes. She doled out love on the lawn swings in front of her house. She doled out love everywhere. I will tell you that her family was her everything, but everyone was family. Her love cast a wide, wide net. It reached everyone she knew. She was funny. She saw the world in a beautiful way and she believed in all of us. She believed that we would be the best versions of ourselves.
I remember talking with her not long ago after the death of her son. “I am changed,” she said. “I will continue to live and love, but I will never be the same.” She understood that loss changes us. Her life changed us; now her loss changes us too. When my own mother died fifteen year ago, the faith that I had carried for a lifetime dwindled to only a hope. Despite my public declarations at a pulpit, the reality was that I knew nothing. I only hoped. I hoped everything. I hoped that everything I believed was true.
Now, I hope it for my dear friend Lynne. I hope that she is welcomed home by all those that she has lost. I hope they love her as much as we do. I believe they do. And I believe that the reunion is grand.