Oh, Eva, Eva, my sweet daughter. I so want to talk to you, and I so want to talk to other people about you. My heart is torn and empty and full–all at the same time. How can that be? I know that you fell into the arms of your loving heavenly Father when you died 14 days ago, though how I wish it were my arms. Maybe it’s okay that I write a few words to you, and maybe it’s okay that I let other people hear what I want to say. I don’t want to brag about you, which you would not have approved of. I want to shout out about the joy you brought to me and Mom and Christopher and so many others.
I was so blessed to be your father, and still to be your father. And so blessed to see how Mom loved you from the moment you were born until the moment you died. You came to us 12 years after we were married. You kept us hopping, you precocious little squirt. You were interested in everything, especially the creative. When your were in grade school and your story got an award and was read on the local PBS station, I knew a literary soul was emerging, and that was true. I had a hard time keeping up with your understanding of literature when you were in college. Your drawings and paintings were amazing. I see in them beauty and playfulness, but also an honest dealing with and acceptance of mortality. Did you know even then that you would not have a long life? We’ll never know. There are so many mysteries. So many unanswered questions. I have to trust that our days are numbered. So many of your days were truly wonderful. I am so sorry you have been so ill for the past few years. I’m glad you said you felt safe and loved in our home and family.
I knew that people would recall to us your beauty and intelligence and curiosity and liveliness and creativity. What blew me away, however, is hearing from your friends of your character. How you influenced them. How they trusted you. How you were always intensely present with anyone you talked to. How you wanted to go deep. How you were courageously honest. How you tried so hard to help others. How you made us laugh. How you’d show kindness to total strangers.
You kept me honest. No spiritual game-playing. No cliches. No self-righteousness. You told me what people needed to know, and that helped me with my sermons and my books. And when I bought a sport coat or shoes that made me look stupid, one shake of your head, a quizzical look from you, a “Dad… no,” and it was back to the store.
I keep thinking that everything you were is what this world needs, Eva. Expressing beauty in the face of ugliness, depth instead of superficiality, honesty instead of deception. This world is worse off with you gone. So I will try, as much as I can, to talk to people about how we all need to do better, in obedience to God. That life is too short to play games. That we need to be selfless and completely respectful of others. I’m just puzzled why this is not obvious to all of us all the time.
When I looked at my “Favorites” list on my cell phone the other day, there was your name, just below Mom’s and just above Christopher’s. I sobbed and wailed because I knew if I pressed the button, no one would answer. How can that be? I can’t call you now, but I can speak to you. And I will. And I will speak and write about the things you and I talked about.
We are in a house of mourning now. We are looking for solace, and we are finding it in our faith in the character of God. There is no way that a girl as lovely and good as you would ever have graced this world unless the God of all creation is the highest good and the greatest beauty. I know you are in the hands of the Father whose love for you is magnified many times more than even my love for you. And so we trust, and then we cry, and then we trust again. We love you.