Still learning from Eve
I was 13 years old and at a Christmas party when I saw 2004 Clarke Central High School graduate Eve Carson for the last time.
A rendering of Eve Carson drawn shortly following her death. Drawing by Emily Silva.
My parents moved to speak with her, and though I had talked to her before—her parents and mine had friends in the same circle—I reverted into adolescent timidity and hid behind my parents, watching in wonder at how pretty and adult she looked.
It didn’t work, though.
Eve moved to face me and asked me how middle school was. I don’t remember what I said, but I remember her laughing and this huge, genuine smile spreading across her face. I remember thinking that I wanted to be just like her when I grew up.
I didn’t know Eve or her family well. And though I have gotten to know them better in recent years, I always will be sad that I missed out on truly knowing her.
After her death, I was angry about my shyness. Had I opened up, maybe she could have been my friend or my mentor—a big sister of sorts that I, an only child, desperately wished for.
In these past five years since her incredibly premature and tragic death, I have realized that, while I never got to be her friend, she has mentored me since that first Christmas party when I watched her speak so eloquently and kindly with everyone and wondered if I would ever be that poised.
Eve Carson is an inspiration to me, a guiding post and a role model. I have learned about the “Eve Carson Way,” I have heard stories about who she was—the silliness, the joy, the compassion—and at age 18, I still feel the same way I did five years ago.
Though her legacy has affected many more than just me, I will always remember the kindness that she radiated and bestowed to me, that gawky, metal-mouthed thirteen-year-old in the midst of adolescence.
My relationship to Eve was extremely limited and yet, when I am angry or frustrated or in need of answers, I ask myself, “What Would Eve Carson Do?”
I think back to the stories of her clinking Coke bottles underwater, and I work to marvel at the small wonders around me.
I think about her wearing a blue prom dress to a UNC-Duke game, and I try to maintain that spirit and pride in the things of which I am a part.
I think about her determination to give and to serve, and I strive to have her same compassion and authenticity in supporting those less fortunate than myself.
And, on a smaller scale, when I search for the next word, for guidance and for sensitivity, I wonder how Eve would have handled it.
The answer, at least to begin with, is usually to smile.