A Beautiful Life

Three Girls at Eden First Communion

On October 31, 2015 (the Eve of All Saints) our lives were changed forever.

I took our three little girls to a piano recital and only brought two home.  Our oldest daughter Evelyn played her piano piece perfectly, bowed to the audience, and collapsed in front of her two little sisters and everyone else in the piano studio.  I was nearly 7 months pregnant with our youngest son at the time.

Despite heroic efforts on the part of parents in attendance, paramedics, and the emergency room staff, Evie could not be saved.  She likely had an undetected cardiac condition still to be determined.

We lost so much beauty in our family when we lost Evie.  Here is an excerpt from the obituary that my husband wrote:

Evelyn was born in Oxford, England to Chad and Jennifer and was home educated along with her siblings.  Evelyn took delight in reading, drawing, sewing, swimming, practicing piano and guitar, playing dolls with her sisters, exploring nature, and simply being with her friends and family. She was eagerly anticipating the arrival of a baby brother – due to be born later this year – and the opportunity to care for him as a ‘little mommy’. She spoke often about her desire to be a mother and an art teacher when she grew up.

Always smiling, Evelyn was a little girl with enormous joy in her heart and an insatiable sense of wonder and awe for God and the world. She sincerely loved others and was known by all for her eagerness to help, to share, and to bring peace wherever she saw pain or conflict. Evelyn was also known for her abiding sense of contentment: She was satisfied with what she had, asked for very little, and freely gave much away.

The source of Evelyn’s serenity was her intense love for Jesus Christ. She believed that in him she already had everything. Evelyn was an example of prayerfulness, often finding private places to recite the Rosary or forming prayer groups with her friends. She also enjoyed singing hymns with her family, especially those she had memorized in her schooling, and she had a deep affection for the unique presence of Christ in Communion. Many times Evelyn expressed her longing to one day see him face to face and to be counted among the Saints in glory. She found particular inspiration to love and follow Jesus from the very short but extraordinary life of Saint Therese of Liseaux.

There is just no way to comprehend the void that she has left in our family.

The loss was shocking, unexplainable, incomprehensible.  She left behind a nine year-old sister who was her best friend and another little sister who saw her as a second mommy.  She never got to meet a little brother for which she had spent much time praying and her big brother was crushed and angered by the unfairness of it all.

She left behind a dad who took immense pride in his girls.  A dad who read them fairy tales in front of the fire, took them backpacking, had snuggle fests, fed their souls, and danced with her on her birthday.

I was left without my biggest helper–the girl who wanted to do everything and of whom I was incredibly proud.  She was a girl after my own heart and even looked so much like me. We were having such a good school year together spending every morning in prayer, hymns, and studying the Scriptures.

We were in the process of building a mini-farm.  A peaceful place to be together as a family and share our blessings and gifts with others as well.  She was so excited about it.

Everything seemed to be falling into place for us.  It was a beautiful life.

Those early days of loss were excruciating.  Painful beyond words.  Raw.  We were surrounded by so many who loved us and loved her.  Stories emerged of the impact she had on so many.  Doves were seen at her funeral procession, which seemed to stretch on for a mile.  Little fortune cookie papers were stuffed into her First Communion banner with messages that my husband needed to hear at the very moment they were discovered.  As we began to collect her things, we were amazed at what we found.  Little love notes, a journal she began writing to her unborn baby brother, insights into her spirituality.  She had a depth of love for Jesus far beyond her years.

The life that we knew came to an abrupt halt the day Evie died and we were propelled into a reality so painful that it threatened to swallow us whole.  

But it hasn’t swallowed us.  We are still living, breathing, functioning.  We are making it through our days.  Is it still painful?  Yes, incredibly.  Do we still have moments when our longing for her is so great that it takes our breath away?  Absolutely.  Many.  But we also have moments of peace, consolation, and even hope for the future.  And how can that be?

Because death is not the end of the story.  Jesus is the resurrection and the life and He makes all things new.

This blog is an outlet for me to share the insights that the Holy Spirit gives me along this heart-wrenching journey.  My prayer is that it can also be a source of comfort and strength for others–whether you are walking this path yourself or trying to support someone else.

The climb to Calvary eventually leads  to the empty tomb, where every tear is wiped away. Someday we will hold her again and our hope will be fulfilled.  Thank you for joining me on the journey.

24 thoughts on “A Beautiful Life

  1. Jen. I am in awe of you and your deepest feelings put into these beautiful words. Five years have passed since we lost our beautiful only daughter and the pain is the same. I look forward to traveling this journey hearing your words and searching for a faith as strong as yours. Hugs to you and your family. We will see them again, of that I am sure.


  2. It is true. All of what you have spoken about the excruciating path is true, and yet we carry each other. This life is a passage that we have until we meet our dear sweet daughters again. Until then I believe we are meant to bear each other’s burdens, and hear and see each other’s hearts. Love you!


  3. You my dear are a blessing as well! Your words give me peace and I love you so! Your faith is to be treasured, you and Chad continue to inspire my own faith journey continuously!


  4. Jen, thank you so much for sharing about this difficult time! In his sharing, it helps us all know how we can help you, maybe where you are struggling, and how your family is doing. Thank you so much! I think about and pray for you guys often!


  5. We continue to weep with you for the pain of separation and wait in hope with you for the joy of the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come! Much love and continued prayers for all of you!


  6. This is absolutely beautiful and moving to read. You, Chad and your family have been in my prayers. Thank you for sharing such your personal journey.


  7. Thank you for sharing, Jen. I think about you often and I’m so touched to hear your thoughts here. Love, hugs, and prayers from across the miles.


  8. Thank you for sharing this . You are all in our prayers. I lost my father on the same day as Evie’s passing and your words provide much comfort. God’s blessings to you all.


  9. We are returning home from the funeral of my 18 year old cousin, who was taken instantly, as your daughter was. So many parallels in your story and hers, especially in regard to their love for Jesus and longing to see Him face to face. May Jesus bring a healing balm to those raw aching hearts that are left behind.


  10. Dear Jen, this is so important. May it console you as it blesses others. And, may Evie’s constant prayers for you, and the inspiration from the Holy Spirit guide you in writing each and every journal/blog.
    My prayers continue with Evie’s. If the time is right, I how to read these to my mom -as she suffered the same loss.


  11. Jen, you show such strength in your words, I cannot begin to imagine. My mom passed the same day that Evie did, she as well had an extraordinary love for our Lord. I’m sure they are rejoicing together in heaven. I often think of your family as we have this day now in common. May God continue to watch over you & heal you from such a heartbreaking loss.


  12. Thank you so much for sharing and telling all the importance of having a relationship with JESUS, I am so sorry for a grieving I lost a daughter while 6 months pregnant, I can’t imagine the sorrow of having your precious gift from GOD 9 years,but I do know and believe we will see our girls again and that promise from JESUS keeps me full of hope and no matter what misery we go through JESUS will never leave us or forsake us and HE always makes beauty out of our ashes and HE will use our misery to help minister to others! Praying GOD’S peace over you and your family♡ Be blessed!


  13. I can only imagine the pain that you and your family must feel from your loss. Your faith and grace are an inspiration to all who happen upon your wonderful blog. I don’t often hear of young women being named Evelyn, but I always smile when i do. My middle name is Evelyn, after my wonderful great aunt. I wear that name so proudly, because I loved her so much. Now when I hear or write my name, I will also think of your Evie, and the example of faith she is to so many. In the weeks and months and years to come, may you continue to find the comfort in our Lord and our Blessed Mother as they wrap their arms around you every day. And from heaven, I know your little girl will be smiling down and praying for your precious family, knowing one day you will all be reunited in His glory! Hugs and love from Western NY State.


  14. Pingback: Celebrating A Beautiful Life | All Saints Farm

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