A Letter to Evan a Year Later

(written Feb 28, 2023, the one year anniversary of your funeral vigil)

Dear Evan

A year ago tonight we went to the church and heard eulogies from friends and family. We asked your Aunt Laura, Uncle Lane and Ennie to represent our family because neither your dad nor I nor your four siblings wanted to risk breaking down in front of the crowd if we tried to read or say anything. But your brave sister, Cana decided she could do it with Ennie by her side, and she did you proud.

Rob read the tribute he had written with Caleb and Garret standing beside him. Those three army bros have been amazingly comforting to me.

I love this picture of the four of you together.

Then Maura representing the rafting community, read the eulogy everyone remembers. She painted the picture we all want to hold in our hearts. She described your transformation from her perspective and how happy you were to be on the river, how you had finally beaten the demons of depression and PTSD and were doing what you loved when the river took you.

I couldn’t find a picture of Maura, but I’m so glad I got to meet her.

A year ago I never could have imagined where we’d be or what we’d be doing now. We were still planning to move to Cornville. Just before Mother’s Day I went to visit Xhiv and Cana, we did a two night getaway in Galveston. Cana was utterly exhausted, from grief I thought . . . but when she finally told me she was pregnant I knew in an instant what I wanted. It suddenly seemed ridiculous for us to move to Cornville when our two girls and now nine grandchildren were in Houston.

Xhiv, Cana, & myself in Galveston

When I got back to Phoenix, I told your Dad I wanted to move to Houston and was surprised by his immediate response. “If that’s what you really want, let’s do it.” I asked him how he felt about giving up on the dream to build our house in Cornville. “Honestly,” he told me, ” it’s a huge relief.”

And so here we are, a year after your funeral in the midst of a messy remodel savoring evening meals with Cana’s crew and preparing for Chris and Xhiv to move in with us soon. I feel certain that you rejoice to see us all together here. Well, Jonathan’s still in Chicago, but he’ll make it for important celebrations for sure. He and Xhiv are going to Guatemala together in October. Oh! And your dad and I are going to Antigua for Easter this year!

A year later, our hearts still ache with the knowledge that you’re not coming back. We miss you so much, Evan! There are no words to describe how raw and painful the grief of losing you is . . . and yet in this last year we’ve experienced more love than in any one year of our lives thus far. You and I always said we’re gonna love each other forever and we still are; I just had no idea what that would look like when forever came for you.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Shirl says:

    Evan would be so proud of you and doug.. the way you moved to Houston and how you are all together. Cana’s children will know their uncle Evan and have a relationship all the family. What a great thing for all of you to be together.


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