For Andrew

Posted on | March 4, 2019 | No Comments

To date, I’ve lost two friends from my high school graduating class, the second so recent that it stings like a needle against the back of my eyelids whenever the thought occurs to me. The thought of him being gone is one of those thoughts I almost have to laugh at because how could HE be gone. Of all people. Why him?

Both of my friends who passed have been too big to die… big smiles, big hearts, big personalities. They filled a room with their presence. They did big and wonderful things in their communities. They were and are mourned on a daily and often hourly basis.

I have spent the weekend weeding through the grief I feel at Andrew’s passing, and searching out every bit of information I could about his last days or hours: needing to know when his big heart stopped, needing to know if he was alone or suffered. Another friend posted a link to an article the local news did on Andrew’s passing and I remembered something similar following Juma’s death. Two friends, so big that they warranted more than just a carefully worded obituary. Their deaths were news; their deaths needed to be heralded so that entire communities could mourn alongside their loved ones.

As often happens when someone I care for dies, thoughts drift uncomfortably toward my own unavoidable death. How and when will I leave this Earth, and what is the legacy I will leave behind? Will it be newsworthy? Will a community mourn for me as it does today for Andrew and as it did two or three years ago for Juma? Or will I be a brief two paragraph synopsis buried in the obituary column, searched out only by those who loved me or knew the moment was imminent.

I am not afraid of death, not when so many I love have paved the way ahead of me. But I am afraid of being forgotten… forgotten for the way I closed the door on high school friends when I got to college, and closed the door on many of my college friends when I graduated. I am afraid that my fear of being known, really known by anyone, has kept me from forging the sort of life-long friendships that I see in my classmates: the five or six who spent hours on the phone after Andrew’s passing, telling stories about his life and laughing through their tears. When I die, will I be remembered for doing … anything? Will I have made the impact I want to make on the world? Changed the things that need changing, worked towards the progress that needs to be achieved… or will I simply fade away in black and white sentences in the back pages of the Life section of a small town newspaper? Will my boys have a community to mourn with or will they sit huddled together in their small and personal memories?

It isn’t fair to lose Andrew. It wasn’t fair to lose Juma. Their families deserved more time. I deserved more time. I deserved to have the time to reconnect the way I intended. I should have been able to remember Andrew as more than a tight hug two years ago and a brief conversation about whether I still lived in the same house, and how our respective parents were doing. Andrew deserved more from me after 30 odd years of friendship. It shouldn’t take loss to remind me to live… to do and change and push for becoming the person I should have been all along: more caring, more understanding, more active, more… like Andrew.

So, my friend, I vow to do so. To get involved. To stop hiding in the corners of my fear of being disliked or misunderstood. I will be the person I’ve always strived to be.

For Andrew.

Because he should have more time to do all of that himself.

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