Aria Luft had her entire life in front of her. But with the teen’s passing, her family believes she has an eternal afterlife.
She was 14, an eighth-grader involved in athletics and choir at Kearney Junior High.
After she was killed Tuesday morning when a truck driven by her mother, Lisa Luft, slid off an icy Kansas bridge to an embankment 25 feet below, Aria’s father, Brandon Luft, spoke at a packed church vigil in Liberty.
“I do know that my redeemer lives,” he told those gathered at the service, clearly leaning on his faith to cope with the tragedy.
His wife, his other daughter, 20-year-old Brianna, and friend of the family, Saleena Senzee, 18, also died in the crash.
At the St. Stephen Lutheran Church, a recording was played of Aria singing a song imagining what it’s like to go to heaven and meet God.
“Surrounded by your glory / What will my heart feel?” Aria sang.
The lyrics come from “I Can Only Imagine,” a song by the Christian band MercyMe.
Bart Millard of MercyMe wrote the song in a flurry not long after the death of his father to cancer, according to The Christian Post.
“For several years following his death, I would find myself writing the phrase, ‘I can only imagine,’ on anything I could find,” the songwriter said. “That simple phrase would give me a peace and a hope thinking about what my dad was finally experiencing.”
It was that sentiment that prevailed during the vigil, when people shared hugs and shed tears as Aria’s voice graced those in attendance.
“Sitting here listening to Aria sing earlier,” Brandon Luft said, as his voice cracked slightly, “was incredible.”
Later he added, “Thank you for the multitude of prayers.”