09 December 2015



Eva Marie Snyder Emanuelson, 46, passed away Friday morning, December 4, beside her devoted husband Daniel J. (DJ) Emanuelson in her Natrona Heights home.  She left behind her loving sons Cole Hunter and Mason Thomas Emanuelson.  Eva was born on the first day of summer, June 20, 1969, in Pittsburgh, to Nancy Schilling Cromie, of Shaler.  She was adopted and raised by George and Nancy Snyder in Bradford Woods, PA.  Eva was a devoted wife, mother, daughter, and sister to Paul Snyder and Melody (Ken) Plowey, and sister-in-law and friend to Amy Emanuelson Blaubach.   She was at the center of a wide circle of friends throughout her life. She was known for her love of good music, Law & Order and Diet Coke.  She chronicled her life in her blog Eva in Wonderland, inspired by her favorite book  Alice in Wonderland.  Despite suffering from lupus, Eva was an avid homemaker and craft maker as well as the owner and proprietor of Jam Near Perfect.  She took great pride in her home, her family, her garden and her dogs Fin, Winston and Mango as well as her cat Biggie. Eva was also survived by her maternal grandparents, Paul (Evelyn) Little, of Littletown; her mother-in-law, Kathy Emanuelson, of Natrona Heights; and by her nieces and nephews. Eva was preceded in death by her beloved father George Snyder.

It was a crooked road for me to meet Eva Marie Snyder.  First I had to meet D.J.  In 1986 I went to Edinboro University.  George and Eric lived in the dorm room next door and George and D.J. took summer classes together.  The first time I met him he was defending baby food as a snack - they’re delicious and they only cost a quarter.  We ran into each other, drunk, of course, in the basement of the TKE house just off campus.  D.J. put his arm around my shoulder and dragged me around the party, telling everyone I was his best friend.  I'm not sure why.  Later that night I split my forehead when I fell while running around his dorm.  He thought I was weird.  We ended up being roommates the next semester through a series of events that I will intentionally leave vague.  D.J. was like the Saturday morning, cartoon watching, 5th grade friend you have when your life is all fun and no responsibility.  Tommy called us the Odd Couple.  One extrovert, one introvert, I guess.   We were best friends about a week into the semester.  Everything was an inside joke but it was just the two of us.
              I failed out of Edinboro but returned the following Fall for Homecoming Weekend.  By then D.J. had become President of the fraternity he, George, Eric and Johnny pledged.  He’d been up all night when events started and there were some older brothers from Phi Sigs past who wanted to know why he didn’t have a house for the fraternity, why they didn’t have this and that and in their day everything was cool and awesome and D.J. sucked.  He got bummed out and went home and ended up going out with a girl he knew from school.  It was another series of events I will leave intentionally vague but the bottom line is that he called me the next day and told me he met someone.  On a December evening he called me again and said he was sending me an application to Arizona State University.  We were moving to Arizona to be with his new girlfriend Eva.

Look at D.J. looking at Eva

Eva at Apache Junction
Me and D.J. in Arizona
From this day forward Eva's presence was always implied in D.J.'s life.  If I had a dime for every sentence he started with,"Eva..."  There was no separation between the two.  D.J. told me that he and Eva could understand what the other was thinking without saying a word.  They could go to a party together and read people and situations and just look at each other and everything was understood.  I think Eva started writing me before D.J. and I made the trip to Arizona.  She thought we should get to know each other.  She met us at the airport, pale and thin with unruly red hair.  She looked fragile but pretty.  She wrote me a letter after my visit noting that, while I previously said TV was kind of beneath me, I spent quite a bit of time watching it while I was there.  She was smart.  The three of us spent the next week hanging out together.  We went to the movies twice -  Beetlejuice  and Biloxi Blues – and we went to Mexico.  We went to Apache Junction, the most beautiful place I’ve ever been, the desert and mountains meeting at a lake.  The whole trip demanded my presence in the here and now.  The moon was out even though it was still daytime and I stared at it from the back seat as the car wound around the red rock roads.  I remember D.J. putting his hand out and, without saying a word, Eva wound her fingers with his and held his hand tight.  That trip was a dream and it was a beautiful dream to move to Arizona and as I reached for it I felt it get further away, like when you run in your sleep but don't get anywhere.  No one knows what would have happened had we moved there and it really doesn’t matter now.  Life unfolds the way it unfolds and if we’re lucky we meet some people who we love along the way.

D.J. and Eva, laughing like usual
Eva came home for health reasons, D.J. stayed home from Edinboro for the year and I moved back to Edinboro after events which deserve their own novel about the implosion of my life.  D.J. came up to school a few times and sometimes he brought Eva.  I recall, just now, her telling him, “Talk to him, you came up here to see him!” She was talking about me.

The next few years are filled with memories of some Dead concerts – the 1988 show at Buckeye Lake, next night’s show in downtown Pittsburgh – and other visits to hang out with D.J.  It was always icing on the cake or extra bonus or whatever good thing you want to call it when I got a chance to see Eva.  We communicated best when we wrote (We’re both writers, she’d say) and I can now recall writing her a letter after Mason was born.  That was the last one.  I remember telling her that if I lived next door I could come over for coffee and chat.  She came up to see me when I was visiting Edinboro in 1990.  That was the night of the epic Toga Party and also my birthday.  D.J. told everyone I was having an affair with Eva and she was in on the joke, one time saying, "Yeah, like I've never seen Kevin naked."  She baked me a cake that year.  In 1992, while I was living with and mooching off him, D.J. told me to put my jacket on.  We went and got in his truck and I found myself riding along down the awful Route 79.  He was taking me to see Eva for my birthday. 

In 1993 I helped D.J. and Eva move to a new apartment.  It was a week of very heavy drinking, Tommy, D.J. and I listening to Steely Dan and enjoying the summer nights.  They paid my way home, grateful that I helped them move.  Eva took me to the bus station that morning and thanked me again.  She was so heartfelt and appreciative. 

That Fall I visited – took the train via NYC – and me and D.J. went up to Camp.  This trip, I am told, initiated the creation of Cole Hunter Emanuelson.  

In 1995 I helped them move yet again, this time to an apartment in Maryland where D.J. had accepted his first teaching job.  That was a grueling move.  Eva wrote me a thank you note.

In 1998, pregnant with Mason, we went to the Outer Banks: D.J., Eva, her sister Mel, her mom Nancy, and young Cole.  I remember Eva laughing until she cried while watching Dr. Katz.  I kept encouraging her and D.J. said, “Dude, you have to stop or she’ll keep going.”

Sometime in the 2000’s we went to Camp for Eva’s birthday. I think it is perfect that she was born on the first day of Summer.  It’s my favorite time of year.  Summer = Eva. The first time I celebrated her birthday was at the Bradford Woods house with all of her friends, me, Eric and D.J.  Now her birthday reminds me of my youth.

At some point in her life, Eva's little hobby of baking birthday cakes and sewing D.J.'s buttons back on became transformative.  Despite or maybe because of her physical ailments, she became stronger.  She developed a gravitas just through the grace of being Eva: kind, thoughtful, understanding, wise, loving, compassionate and she still remained biting, sarcastic and funny.  She became prettier.  Some people succumb to their worst traits as they get older.  Eva seemed to shed them as she grew closer to being her true self.   

I saw a little less of Eva when me and D.J. started meeting at Camp, but I knew what was going on with her because D.J. still started so many sentences with, “Eva...” and then filled in the rest.  I heard about the illnesses, the baking, the craft shows, the Law & Order ringtone, making breakfast for the boys every morning.  She was always there with us.  I probably saw her about once a year.  In the later years when I visited, I liked sitting in her spot on the couch with the dogs around me, thinking of her watching tv or reading her book, sipping a Diet Coke.  She liked talking about how lazy and unproductive she was, but she wasn’t.  She was the center of the wheel.  Looking at the comments on Facebook you see, “Eva was my rock...”, “Eva was my support system...”, “Eva was my sister...”  I don’t know what she was to me.  She married my best friend, she was my friend, but there is no word I know of for the more than friends kind of friends that we were.  At the least of it we were allies.  We talked once in a while during the last couple years.  I liked to check in and see how she was doing.  The last time we spoke our conversation probably lasted an hour.  She told me how happy she was that D.J. had me for a friend and I thanked her and told her I loved her and D.J. and the kids and if there was anything that she ever needed that she should call me and she thanked me and told me she loved me too.  I had no idea how much I cared about her until she passed away.   

Eva and her Diet Coke

Eva with Law&Order playing in the background.  Look at that beautiful face.

Happy Family
She gave this framed photo to D.J. for Christmas.  D.J. laughed at the ego of someone who gives photos of themselves as presents.  D.J. can be seen in the left lens taking the photo.  She looks like a rock star.

Eva and Mason - two peas in a pod
Eva and Cole - Eggheads like their booky book

This is probably my favorite photo of Eva.  Note the Grateful Dead patch on her jacket.  I like to think that this is what she looked like after she left us, giving us one last look over her shoulder as she walks away into eternity or wherever it is she is now.  I can picture her walking away, smiling, light as air, wanting to see everyone she loved one more time, stopping, turning back, smiling at us and then continuing her journey.  Her love will last forever.