Losing a friend is hard. Losing a friend that holds a special place in your heart is even harder. Losing a friend unexpectedly and without being able to mentally prepare yourself is the hardest.
Finding out that Lance had passed away after a 2 year battle with brain cancer was devastating. I wasn’t prepared when life threw this surprise at me. And being so far away from home has intensified those feelings of loss.
Lance was one of my closest friends and someone that had such a huge impact on my life. I don’t remember the day I actually met him. He’s just always there in my memories.
Almost six years ago he came to visit me here in Spain. I had just moved to Irun and he was touring the United Kingdom and Ireland. Since Spain is just a short plan ride away, he came for a few days. I hadn’t seen him in about six months and having that comfort from Reno was amazing. I’ll never forget a lunch we had one day. We went to the supermarket and got ingredients for arroz con pollo and tinto de verano. After preparing lunch together, we sat outside on the balcony with the sun shining on our faces and enjoyed our food and drink. Our conversation was light and easy until he wanted to know my reason for moving to Irun after living in Donosti for so long. I had a very specific reason for the move but very few people knew it. I skirted around the question for a while not really wanting to put a damper on our day. He knew there was something more. And it didn’t take him long to figure it out. He finally got the truth out of me and while I was in the middle of the story, he stood up and came to my side of the table. He gave me a hug and said “I’m so sorry that happened to you.” I started crying and he just held me, telling me how strong I had been.
That was the kind of guy Lance was. Someone never to judge and accept everyone just as they were. No questions. No faults.
I’ll never forget our times at the Polo Lounge (our favorite hangout) in Reno. Dancing until the wee hours of the morning. Drinking Ketel One and sodas. Singing along to the jukebox. Lance was the life of the party. He loved everyone and everyone loved him.
But there was so much more to him than just partying. We spent many nights watching Hoarders on TV and promising to never let each other become one. After that we’d watch Chelsea Lately and laugh until our stomachs hurt. We’d take Bella for walks and have deep conversations about life. He was the person I could always count on to hear me out. Not only listen to me but actually hear me. He got me in a way few people actually do.
When I decided to come to Spain, he was my support and encouragement. He loved traveling and meeting new people. While many other family members and friends haven’t always understood my passion for travel and living abroad, he got it. He pushed me to discover the world and find out what was out there, beyond Battle Mountain, Reno and Nevada. He loved hearing my stories and celebrated my triumphs (and sometimes drunken failures!).
There are so many more stories and memories I have of him. Probably too many to mention here. Someone like Lance leaves a lasting impression on your heart and your life. An impression that is not likely to go away soon. My heart aches when I remember that our memory-making days are over.
Going back to Nevada in a few weeks will feel different this time. Something will be missing. But my love and memories of him will carry on forever.