The tribute to an extraordinary woman that was mine alone to give
And we wept that one so lovely should have a life so brief.
- William Cullen Bryant, "The Death of The Flowers"
Early last year, I gave this eulogy at Linda’s memorial service.
I want to say thank you to everyone here for coming today and to all our family and friends for the outpouring of support over the past week during a difficult time. Through calls, e-mails, cards, posts online, and conversations today, each memory of Linda that has been shared is a blessing and helps to celebrate how she touched all of our lives.
I met Linda at Harvard Law School eight years ago this past Tuesday. It was one of the best days of my life. We discovered that we both shared a love for board games, hailed from Southern California, and didn’t care for the wintery Boston weather. A week later, I happened to move into a dorm room down the hall from hers and the next time we ran into each other, we fell into a conversation that lasted several hours. I was smitten with her and her beauty, wit, and grace. The very next day, I waited, for hours, for her to return, pacing nervously so I could ask her out. I took her out on our first date that evening.
From there, it didn’t take long for us to fall in love. In the months and years that followed, we built the foundation for a marriage of the deepest love I could have hoped for. In each other, we believed we had found our truest partner, our soulmate, in this life and the next. My time with Linda was far too short, but in the past four and a half years as husband and wife, we formed a lifetime’s worth of memories that will, most importantly, live on in our two young daughters.
Linda was always my biggest champion. She embraced me with a love and understanding such that I could be completely vulnerable with her. When I lacked confidence, she encouraged me. When I was stressed, she calmed me down. There was nothing too big or too small that we couldn’t figure out together. She supported me when I changed jobs, enduring a long commute, because she said she wanted me to realize my potential and be fulfilled in my professional career.
Many of you knew Linda as an intensely dedicated and determined woman. As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, accountant and then attorney, she gave her all to all these roles, wanting to make the most of her talents each day on this earth. Family always came first for Linda, and she was devoted throughout her life to her mother and brothers. Her empathetic heart carried the trust of lifelong friends. Her sharp intellect and commitment was respected by colleagues and clients. She was proud to be a part of Ernst & Young, then Gibson Dunn, and more recently, Western Digital. Yet for all her accomplishments, she had an incredible humility. She was smarter, and certainly wiser, than me, and I never stopped learning from her.
Over the years, I would discover that Linda had an equally fierce desire to explore and understand the world around her. A few years ago, we started traveling on unbeaten paths across countries throughout South America - to Peru, Brazil, Argentina. During one particularly memorable day in Peru, Linda helped me scale a mountain that required ascending a series of vertical ladders, some over 100 feet tall, without any safeguards whatsoever. When we made it to the summit, her face was beaming end to end. Another time, we found ourselves off the trail in Patagonia and only together were we able to find our way back. For Linda, venturing into the unknown was the surest way to grow one’s sense of self, of our purpose and place in life. It’s why she took a chance and moved to Boston for law school after having lived and worked in Southern California her whole life. And it’s why she moved out to the Bay Area to start a new career and settle down.
In the past few days, I have encountered deep sorrow and despair which, like that mountain in Peru, seem insurmountable at times. My greatest fear is not the road ahead for my family but instead, not being able to raise our children the way only Linda could have. She was a doting mother, who experienced so much joy with her daughters - whether it was seeing our elder daughter accomplish a series of “firsts” in her young life or getting to know our younger daughter as she grew throughout her pregnancy. Linda was so excited to introduce our new daughter to the world. I can’t help but think that Linda gave her last strength to her so that she would be able to miraculously survive. That is the type of mother Linda was.
Linda was also a human being who appreciated all she had and chose to not take it for granted. She woke up with a bright, cheery attitude every morning. She wished me a wonderful day on my way out the door each day, without fail. She would often tell me how blessed she felt by her family, friends, and work - that God had given her so much she did not deserve. The suddenness of her passing is a reminder that we too must live with that same attitude. Only now do I fully understand the full fragility and preciousness of life and how it can forever change in just an instant. We cannot know what God’s plan is for us. We have to live with a sense of joy and gratitude and make the most of the time we are given.
In that spirit, though I am heartbroken, I am also grateful. I would like to thank God for bringing Linda and our two beautiful girls into my life. To thank Him for taking her at a time in her life when she was most joyful. And I give thanks for the life of a woman who was truly extraordinary, for Linda’s memory will continue to live on and give us the strength to move forward. I love you, Linda. Be with the Lord, in peace.