This was read during Eric's funeral service by my dear friend, Tess Bademan
I met Eric Rynders during my first year at Dordt College in NW Iowa. We met in passing and eventually found that we had friends in common and our paths intersected more often. He loved living in Florida, he loved Coco-Cola, he loved driving fast cars, he loved wearing shoes with no socks and a hundred other things that made him interesting to me. I also quickly learned that his heart loved the God who made him and that every day he felt the burden of telling others about his faith. I also found out that his physical heart was broken. There were medications and cardiologists, scary things for college kids, but Eric took it all in stride as a part of his daily routine. We were kids, it was easy to focus on the freshness of new love and life was a long road ahead of us filled with endless possibilities.
I always said to him “I think after college we’ll go our separate ways and somewhere down the road when we haven’t found anyone else, we’ll find eachother and get married.” Our ways never separated and we soon found ourselves part of a love that would need to travel through life together. We talked about his heart. I told him that I loved him enough to be with him for a day, a year or a lifetime if God allowed. It didn’t matter to me. Any time was worth something and now I know that no time is ever enough. We married six months out of college and would have been married 22 years on the 20th of this month. I have known a deep love and cherishing that all wives would hope to have.
We married, we made plans, we lived freely and innocently with the hope of years and years to live out our plans, our dreams, our convictions. Having children was always a part of that plan and God blessed us with our three. Henry, our first born--our first run at figuring out what it was to be parents. Your father was so very proud of you. He told me so often, “Henry gets it. He’s a big picture kid. People are drawn to him and he’ll do well whatever he does.” He knew that his health forced you to grow up quickly and that saddened him, but he was so comforted by the man God was forming you into. It was perfect that you were there helping him in those final moments because you bravely put into action all those things he hoped he was teaching you. Beatrice, his sweet girl. He always said that one of his regrets in life was that he wished he had known me since the day I was born. When you came along looking and acting like a little copy of me he got his wish. He loved you deeply. He loved your persistence to learn and conquer new things. He loved his little girl and struggled to watch you turn into a young woman, but knew you were growing into something amazing. Simon, our youngest, our comic relief. You taught all of us to take life a little less seriously when we needed it most. You have inherited your father’s sense of humor--as well as his ability to change the words of any song into something a little more entertaining. You reminded him so much of his own little brother—which terrified him a little, but brought him so much happiness. You were his joy. Eric loved being a father and to look at the three of you—it was his most successful earthly contribution.
Eric filled a room when he entered it and he filled our lives to the brim. He was the bravest man I have ever known. He faced every trial with a calmness and sense of humor that amazed those who knew him. His faith was the solid rock that he walked on each and every day. He taught us to appreciate every day that we are given. Because of his leadership and example to our family, we must now take those lessons and bravely face the days and years to come. He was an amazing man and we were blessed to call him best friend, husband and dad.