Evie Bermant
  Evie Bermant

Tribute to Evie

by Stephen Deitch

When we say of someone who has died, died in tragic circumstances, that she was our friend, we don't think of the specific acts of friendship or the until then small un-remembered kindnesses. We think instead of something whole, an individual spirit that has been taken from us when we were least prepared for it. So all the usual phrases come tumbling out. "She was a wonderful woman", "She could have been a great woman had life given her the chance" and, of course, "Life could never be the same without her."

All these things are true, but of Evie there are many other things to say, such painful, loving things, that all the usual consoling clichés seem to turn to ashes and dust in our mouths even as we speak them. For Evie was a unique spirit, many faceted, deeply caring and thoughtful, playful and earnest. She was both complex and straightforward. There are many Evies we all remember.

There was the creative Evie who drew and painted, wrote and sung. She had an incredible ability to express herself with words that displayed such intelligence and a clarity of mind. Aliza found an old Kerem school report which shows that the 10 year old Evie was already writing imaginative stories, but the teacher also expressed her frustration that Evie applied her daydreaming and doodling talents as soon as the Maths lessons started.

Allied to this was the perfectionist Evie who corrected, re-drafted and rewrote everything, including her messages on birthday cards. I am sure many of you had an Evie birthday card - all the available space used up and, of course, her hallmark; her prolific use of Tippex. And the JC book reviews that took longer to write than the books themselves.

There was the generous Evie who would never buy 1 present when 6 would do and who would use up a third of our luggage allocation to Israel with gifts for family and friends.

There was the quirky Evie. The vegetarian that never really gave up chicken soup and chopped liver. Who insisted that she could neither think nor drive while wearing a hat. The healthy eater who found Barr's Irn Bru and Tunnock's tea-cakes irresistible.

There was the brave Evie whose strength of character and sense of humour transcended the suffering and pain of her illness right up until her last day. Some of us here will remember how she held court the Sunday before she died bringing us all together for what for many of you was the last time you saw her alive.

And yet alongside these Evies, was the Evie that was hidden from many. Anxious about the future and what it held and angry with God for the unfairness of her torment and suffering.

I miss all of those Evies so much, and here, words seem too impotent to express what I feel. She was the most remarkable person I have ever known. She gave me direction when I didn't know where to go. She brought calm when all around was chaotic and haphazard. And she gave love with such unique caring and sensitivity that even when the world seemed a dangerous and awful place, a single smile from Evie and you knew everything was going to be alright.

And so much of Evie's love and serenity stays with me. Despite the pain and worry of her last year, in particular, the five years we spent together were the happiest of my life. My memories of Evie are those of her laughing and joking and caring, of her kindness and selflessness and her loyalty.

And, of course, there is you - our friends who sustained both of us with your unconditional support, your time, your gifts and your loving friendship.

Evie has left an unfillable void. My sense of grief and loss is profound and sometimes painful to bear. But when I remember Evie and the friends that we have I cannot help but think of myself as incredibly fortunate. And for that I can't get angry with God for his unfairness because perhaps, that is the way he evens things out.

©Danny Bermant 2000