Mom's thoughts on Evan and gratitude on the event of Evan's fundraiser

June 15, 2002

For Evan

"The worst of times bring out the best in people." Mary Schmich wrote this in her column in the Tribune about a year ago. It has been 10 months today since the accident that took Evan's life on earth, and this thought has been proven to us a thousand times. The countless gestures of care and concern have been a sustaining mercy in the face of adjusting to the incomprehensible. How does one articulate a gratitude as deep and heartfelt as ours?

With Father's Day coming tomorrow, we are reminded of the inspiration that children get from their parents. I don't think that Joe would mind me saying that, in our family, the opposite is true. Our daughter, Gennie, is autistic and has cerebral palsy. She is unable to talk because her brain is unable to plan speech. That she even tries each day, given the impediments to function with which she deals on a daily basis, is a wonder and inspiration to us. Brendan and Evan learned from the ages of not quite 6 and 4 years old to be guardians to their sister, to put her needs before their own. Attention for our sons was always a comparatively spare and scheduled commodity. There was never any resentment on their part, and we were again inspired, this time by our sons, who always just accepted the way things were. When the permanence and gravity of Gennie's disabilities became evident, the boys tried to talk about their sadness and regret. How unfair was it that she wouldn't be able to have a college graduation, a wedding, children? With Evan's death, it seemed boundlessly unfair that our family would have to ask that question again.

And yet, as time passes, we realize, as Evan would always say, how lucky we are. Infinitely blessed to have had this loving, easy going, hard working, exuberant son with us for almost 16 years. Twice blessed to have such unconditional and loving support from all of you. Your efforts on behalf of Evan's memory, your caring acts, the fact that you are all here is such an affirmation of the hope to continue that can only come from faith in an eternal life and shared kindness.

There are exquisite paradoxes that have come into focus since Evan's accident: that we can long for Evan with every cell in our bodies, and yet know that he is alive in heaven and with us here; that through such unbearable loss, we more deeply appreciate love, the compassion of others, life, death, and eternal life. I paraphrase the thoughts of Frances Gunther when I say that we will love Evan more and more until we, too, join him, and leave behind us, as Ev did, the love of love, and the love of life. You are the grace for the wait.

Euripides said, "When good men die their goodness does not perish, but lives though they are gone." We hope that the spirit and goodness with which Evan lived can be nurtured each year by helping another student attend St. Ignatius, a school that he greatly respected for it's ability to accentuate the values of honor and tolerance. We are so incredibly appreciative of your generosity to that end.

A beautiful prayer said on Yom Kippur relays that "no one is really alone; those who live no more on earth, echo still within our thoughts and words, and what they did is part of what we have become." It goes on to say, "We do best homage to our dead when we live our lives most fully, even in the shadow of our loss." In keeping with the attitude of these words, I would ask you the favor of further honoring our son tonight by 'being like Ev.' He was a very mindful young man. Evan was mindful of other people's feelings, mindful of the greater good, mindful of the need to give best efforts. By virtue of your being here, I think that you all have the mindful part covered! Evan also lived his life very fully. He played guitar loudly, ran hard, reveled in new experiences, and laughed from the belly. Please celebrate that way tonight. Stealing a line from a current song, given the choice between sitting the song out or dancing, I hope that you all dance.

God Bless!

Thank you-