“People say I was so good for caring for her – but no, I am not. I am just a husband who loved his wife. And she made it so easy.”
“I had a woman contact me the other day … She met Lana for 10 minutes. I don’t even remember her name, but she was so distraught. Lana, in that short brief meeting, changed her life. She gave this woman a complete and total positive outlook that she never had before. And that’s the effect that Lana had on everybody. I was blessed to experience that every single day. Some people only get that briefly in this life, but I was lucky … it was so easy to love her. People say I was so good for caring for her – but no, I am not. I am just a husband who loved his wife.”
Evan Edmondson, 45, speaks these words with a lifetime of emotion in his voice. He’s talking to me on his cell phone while driving on Wednesday to Martin & Castille Funeral Home in Lafayette.
He’s preparing to dress his wife, Lana, for her funeral. She will be buried in her beautiful wedding dress.
(Story continues below this intimate video from Evan and Lana’s wedding)
Lana and Evan Edmondson got married in 2002, and they endured an indescribable battle. Here is a look at their wedding. The Daily Advertiser
On May 2, at 42 years old, she died after a long battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a rare neurological disease that currently has no cure.
For the last 16 years, Lana and Evan have endured highs and lows that no one could anticipate.
But they never stopped holding each other’s hands – and their explosive love intensified every single day.
This is the incredible story of a couple whose fairy tale ended far too soon – but their legacy is sure to have an impact for years to come.
Lana grew up in Lafayette, Louisiana, with her parents, Carolyn and Keller Madere, and two older siblings.
Her husband, Evan, was one of those people.
Over a cup of coffee at Lana’s childhood home, he tells me about the night they met. A smile spreads across his face, and his eyes travel back to a simpler time.
“We met in 2000,” he says. “I was a single, carefree party guy, and I loved to go out and cut up at night with my buddies.”
Evan looks across the room to Tommy Ber, his best friend of almost 30 years. The guys share a laugh, as if they are pressing pause on the sadness of the situation, reminiscing about the moment this love story began.
“I was at (the old Lafayette club) Graham Central Station acting a fool with my buddy Howard,” Evan recalls. “I notice this cute girl watching him dance, and she’s laughing, so I told him to go over and talk to her. She got up to dance with him, and halfway through the song, Howard motions me out there. My first thought was that we were both about to start dancing with this girl! But when I got out there, he passed her to me, and said, ‘Here … she didn’t want to dance with me – she wanted to dance with you!”
At the time, Lana was already starting to experience ALS-related symptoms, but she had yet to be diagnosed. The disease was affecting her legs – but upon first glance, Evan just thought Lana had too much to drink.
“We were dancing,” he explains with a laugh, “and her knees would hyper extend. My first thought – and I told her this – was, ‘Oh, I get the drunk chick tonight.’ She busted out laughing and told me that she had something going on with her knees. And for the rest of the night, we talked and danced.”
Lana made it clear that she had something going on with her health, but Evan wasn’t fazed.
“I knew there was something wrong, but I didn’t see that, I didn’t care,” he says. “I was a very judgmental person before I met her – your lips are not right, your hair’s not right – stuff like that … but for some reason, I didn’t see that in her. She was the first woman … the first person, to affect me that way.”
Evan was completely intrigued by Lana. So much, in fact, that he invited her to Howard’s mother’s birthday party the very next day.
Evan explains to me what he was thinking when he went to go pick her up.
“When I came to get from her parents’ house,” he says, “I saw her walking down the hall and thought, ‘Man, she’s pretty hot! We hit it off, and I wondered how far it would go.”
One week later, he met Lana’s parents.
Her mother, Carolyn, recalls their first encounter.
She sets her coffee on the table, and her eyes light up. Although Lana’s gone, it’s clear that her energy still affects people in a very special way.
“Before he came over, I saw a piece of paper with his number on it,” Carolyn explains. “When I asked Lana what it was, she said, “Oh, that’s Evan’s number. He has red hair, he’s a good dancer, he’s a Baptist, and he smokes!”
Laughter fills the room, and I can picture the moment.
“When Evan came over,” she continues, “he walked up wearing a cowboy hat and boots. I see this guy walking toward the house, and a song comes into my head.”
Carolyn starts singing the lyrics to Bobby Vee’s 1960 hit, “Devil or Angel.” I smile to myself, and let her continue the story.
“Devil or angel, dear, whichever you are … that’s exactly the song that came to mind when I saw Evan walking up,” she explains.
I can’t help but ask the question: “Well, which one was he?”
Carolyn laughs, and she and Evan engage in a playful, yet serious, exchange.
“I found out he was an angel,” she says with extreme certainty and a soft voice.
“No I wasn’t,” Evan responds.
Carolyn is quick to shoot him down.
“But you were to my daughter,” she replies.
“Not until I fell in love with her,” Evan says, looking toward the floor. “She brought it out in me.”
On June 8, 2002, Lana and Evan got married in front of 400 friends and family members. They were engaged for one year – and the proposal was just as epic as their love story.
Carolyn recalls the proposal, still beaming with pride for her daughter, 17 years later. In true Lana-fashion, she brings up a memory that brings more smiles to the table.
“When we landed in Baton Rouge,” Carolyn says, “we were all arguing about who was sane enough to drive back to Lafayette!”
From the moment when that cork was popped, so to speak, the party never ended. In fact, even as Lana’s health deteriorated, the family celebrated all of life’s adventures with an incredible, undying energy.
That becomes more obvious as our conversation continues.
As Carolyn speaks to me, Evan flips through his wedding album.
“What a gorgeous woman,” he gushes about his bride. “Who could not fall in love with that? Lana was just so happy to be married to me – at first I couldn’t understand it.”
Carolyn chimes in.
“You know what was so beautiful?” she asks. “Lana saw goodness in everyone.”
Evan immediately echoes the sentiment.
“Love just exuded out of her body,” he explains. “Lana could walk into a room, and within 10 minutes, they would all be around her.”
I ask Evan to tell me about his and Lana’s life as newlyweds.
“We were married for four months,” he says. “And we had a house fire and lost everything. What the fire didn’t take, Hurricane Lili destroyed a few days later.”
They relocated to a temporary home before permanently settling in Maurice, where they lived since 2004.
At that point, the couple continued to build their life together, but Lana’s health kept declining.
Her condition left doctors baffled – some suspected ALS, but due to its slow progression, and the fact that her upper limbs had yet to be affected, they were hesitant to confirm a diagnosis.
Eventually, Lana was wheelchair-bound. In 2012, Evan was so frustrated with the situation that he demanded more extensive testing.
Finally, a nerve-conduction study affirmed everyone’s worst fears: Lana had ALS, and it was slowly robbing her of all bodily functions.
Around that time, her condition started to deteriorate at a more rapid rate. In 2013, things got so bad that Lana spent some time in a nursing home getting rehabilitation – but quickly, Evan saw that wasn’t the answer.
He wanted his wife to live her very best life – and nothing would stop him from making that happen.
Shortly thereafter, Evan committed himself to caring for Lana full-time. To her, that was worth far more than money could buy.
“That was the thing,” he tells me. “She didn’t care about me working to give her the best clothes, the best house, or the fanciest car. She just wanted me there with her.”
From then on out, they spent every waking moment loving each other and living each day to the fullest.
When they celebrated, it was always a larger-than-life event.
“If we had a barbecue,” Evan explains, “it wasn’t just a barbecue. We went all out. Here is poor Lana, she can’t even walk, and she was always so concerned that everyone was happy and content. Because that’s Lana. I made it my mission to take her everywhere and have a great time, to see and do everything.
She continued to get weaker and thinner, but that didn’t stop her spirit from shining through. When doctors thought the end was near, she never wavered – and neither did Evan.
“They didn’t think she would see her 40th birthday, and when she did, I threw her a huge celebration of life,” he tells me. “We had fireworks, a water slide … people were stopped on Johnston Street to watch our fireworks ahead of the city’s. From then on out, we went big for everything – anniversaries, holidays … and Lana never once complained. She was happy with everything in her life, besides the disease.”
After her 40th birthday, Lana’s health took a serious turn for the worse. In January 2016, she went on hospice – it was a devastating, and defeating, blow to everyone.
“But I knew people who envied Lana,” she says. “A nurse once walked into the room and said, ‘Lana, I envy you. I envy how much you are loved.’ Evan did all the innovative stuff, the can-do stuff. He never stopped fighting for her.”
“And neither did you,” Evan tells his mother-in-law.
When doctors told him to prepare for the worse, Evan refused to surrender. He was always looking for ways to improve her quality of life, whether it was through vitamins, hormones, or thinking outside the box to get her out of the house.
He took a golf cart, for example, and cut it in half, building a bed onto the back end so that Lana could enjoy the outdoors.
Evan refused to let Lana slip away – and his persistence paid off.
By the end of 2016, she had gained enough weight and strength to be taken off hospice.
The next two years were spent soaking up every single second of life.
“The more she got out, the more excited she was,” Evan says. “The room lit up every time she was in it – she was always the happiest person in there.”
This proved true to the very end.
The last weekend in April, Lana and Evan had an incredible time with friends, including Tommy and his girlfriend Cindy Lovergne, at a crawfish boil and concert in New Iberia.
That was their last amazing memory before saying goodbye.
Two days later, Lana aspirated and wound up in the hospital. She never made it home again.
At 10:30 p.m. on May 2, Lana passed away in her husband’s arms.
When I ask about that moment, the room gets quiet.
“I just grabbed her,” Evan says, through tears. “And I held onto her until she took her last breath. I didn’t want her to go … I didn’t want her to go.”
Shortly before she passed, Lana opened her eyes and looked at Evan – a beautiful exchange that he will forever cherish.
“I wanted her to know I was there,” he tells me. “My last words to her were, ‘I’m sorry … I got you.’ All I could think was I’m sorry … I promised I would never give up, never quit.”
Carolyn and Tommy surround Evan during this bittersweet moment.
“And you didn’t quit,” they say while embracing him. “You never gave up.”
Evan regains his composure and takes a deep breath. Surrounded by his best friend and in-laws, he looks at me once again.
“All that love was there because Lana was giving it,” he says. “There was nothing special about me. She had unconditional love. That was it. It was flowing from her. I am just a husband who loved his wife. She says I made it happy and fun … but she made it so easy.”
This article was originally sourced from here.