This is the eulogy I wrote the day Amber died. Unfortunately, due to time issues, I wasn’t able to share it at the funeral, but since I promised her I’d do a eulogy, here it is.
The truth is I never wanted to have to give this eulogy. Amber asked me several times after she went into rejection to speak at her funeral, but I was hoping this day wouldn’t come for a very long time.
But, as Amber would say, it is what it is so I better own it.
I wish I could tell you why God allows things like this to happen – why He would take a young mother and wife. But I can’t.
In fact, if I’m perfectly honest (and we all know if Amber was here she’d tell me I should be), God and I have had a few words over the past few days about the unfairness of cutting short a life that meant so much to so many.
But here’s the thing, Amber would be the first person to tell me about God’s sovereignty in the midst of human suffering. It was her life’s message, and one she didn’t just pay lip service to. But one she had learned by walking one hard step after the other.
IF she was here today – after she told me to quit being stupid – she would want you to trust in that sovereignty. She would want you to know that God is good no matter the circumstances or how unfair or hard things seem.
Because she knew a secret that people who suffer know – God’s presence and His goodness and His grace can make even the ugliest of things beautiful just because He is there walking with us.
So, today, I want to do what Amber has asked me to do – remember her and celebrate her life because she is truly someone who should be celebrated.
There are 13 years between Amber and I (as she would often say – we were from different generations), and while I knew who she was when she was a teen in a periphery sort of way, we didn’t get to be friends until she was in her 20s.
The truth is the very first time Amber and I had a conversation, I remember coming home and thinking, “Man, that girl is SO pushy!”
We interacted periodically, and then, a few years later, I asked if she wanted to go out to dinner. We bonded over pasta at Fazolis. That was probably almost 12 years ago now.
The thing I will always remember about Amber and why I am having such a hard time believing she is really gone is she was one of the most alive people I have ever met. Probably because death was her constant companion for so long, it made her more aware of time than most people. Sure, we all know we could die at any time. I could walk outside and get hit with a truck tomorrow, but we don’t really LIVE that way.
Psalms 90:12 says, “So, teach us to number our days, that we may present to you a heart of wisdom.” She was someone who always knew her days were numbered, and so she wisely lived the ones she had fully. She met each morning with a joy and fearlessness that was kind of amazing.
As someone who tends to be rather wimpy, I was always in awe of the way she just plowed through life even though the next infection could mean she was done. Instead of letting her circumstances make her bitter or allowing her precarious health to paralyze her with fear, she took each day as it came and as the gift it was.
You could see this most clearly in her relationships. I have been doing this word study on love in I, II and III John, and I came across the verse in I John 3:18 the day after Amber died. It seemed so appropriate. ‘Little children, let us love not with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”
Amber didn’t just talk about loving people. She demonstrated that in numerous ways. You could see her living out this verse in her love for Jesus, her love for John, her love for Noah, and her love for her friends and family.
Her first love was Jesus – always. She was someone who was rooted and grounded in her faith. It wasn’t just lip service for her. It was the rock on which she built her life. If she was here today, she would tell you it’s the rock you should build your life on too, not the shifting sands of feelings or feel-good theology that tells you God just wants you to be happy. I think Amber’s life makes it clear that He is more interested in your holiness than your happiness, and ultimately that holiness is what brings you true joy.
Her second love was for John. She was passionate about being a good wife to John. She looked for ways to serve and love him every day because she knew their time would probably be short. Amber was never someone who did anything halfway. When she was in, she was all in. This was never more evident to me than when she started to date John. She knew, without a doubt, this was who she was supposed to marry – and heaven help anyone who stood in the way of that!
Her third most important love was Noah, and she was also passionate was being a good mom to Noah. Even though the road to motherhood was difficult and there were potholes of heartache along the way, she kept walking, never taking her eyes off the goal. In fact, the one thing that makes me smile in all this is the fact that Amber will finally meet that baby she miscarried over 6 years ago. The one she held in her heart.
And when she got Noah, the joy she had – it just radiated. I know it made her sad that her time with him was probably limited, that unless the Lord performed a miracle she wouldn’t see him graduate or get married. I know there were days she struggled with the fact that her health limited what she could do and where she could go with Noah. But even on days when she could barely breathe, she didn’t check out. She was there with everything she was able to bring, and trust me, chasing a toddler around with 30% lung function and small airways that had only 15% capacity was no joke. She was always exhausted, especially the last 6 months or so.
Finally, Amber loved her friends and her family. I was able to watch Amber as she worked at being a good wife and mom. I was inspired by her love and dedication to Jesus. But I was a recipient of her friendship. As I said, when Amber was in, she was all in. She was fiercely loyal and heaven help the person who messed with one of her people.
True friends are difficult to come by. You might only have a handful in your entire life. I counted Amber as one of those true friends. Although we had very different personalities, we both agreed that being real was important.
That was very true in our friendship and I’m sure it was in her other friendships as well. What I loved about Amber – well, most of the time – was that she would call you on your crap but at the same time, I could say anything to her and knew she wouldn’t be silently judging me. In Proverbs it says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” We both believed that. Sometimes, she would say the hard stuff, and sometimes, I would say the hard stuff, but we always spoke the truth to each other. Love is not always warm and fuzzy. Love sometimes says the things you don’t want to hear, but if it is silent, then it isn’t really love. It’s just enabling with a nice face.
Amber only lived a few streets over from me, and I would often drop by for short visits. We would message each other back and forth most days. I still find myself wanting to turn my car down her street or wanting to shoot her a message and see how her day is going. I still expect to see my private message to ding with, “Are you still alive over there?”
As I said, Amber and I had different personalities but we also had quite a few things in common. We were both writers, for one thing, and had a love of both words and good grammar (and yes, we were both silently correcting your grammar). We could count on each other to say whether something worked or it didn’t. Trust me, that is a gift because most people won’t tell you the truth.
Another thing Amber and I shared was our love of Scripture and the correct teaching of said Scripture. We had many long talks about different points of theology, and why we believed what we did. We questioned each other’s points of view on things. We were iron sharpening iron.
The simple truth is I will miss Amber every day. I KNOW Amber is in a better place. She is whole and restored and perfectly at peace in all fullness of joy in the presence of her Savior.
As I Thessalonians 4:13 says, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as the rest who have no hope.”
But while I grieve with great hope, it doesn’t change the fact that, for me, the world is an emptier place without her.
I have walked the road of grief before though, and I know in some measure what Amber did about pain and suffering – God never leaves us and He never forsakes us. He has this miraculous way of taking our ashes and turning them into garlands of beauty. I have no doubt that He will use Amber’s death as He has used her life – to remind us who HE is and to bring Him glory which let’s face it, is really the entire point.