Life Ripples On
10 Life Lessons I Learned from the Death of my Best Friend
Spring always brings it back. Spring, for most, symbolizes life, for me it's quite the opposite. It's not the date, it's the smell in the air and the chill of the day. It's the birds chirping; it's the signs of Spring, that transports me, like a time machine, to the day, Easter Sunday, 23 years ago, to the worst day of my life; the day my best friend died. I remember vividly, after the crash, after the transport, after the vigils, many days later, standing on the 3rd floor of the parking garage of the hospital, sobbing profusely, begging and pleading with God to spare and save his life. Life support was about to be pulled for not only him, but for me as well. I couldn't breathe then and find it hard to now.
Andy was my "brother", my best friend, my "partner in crime." He was vivacious, hilariously funny, spontaneous and one of the most charming people I had and have ever met. We just had this connection that was inexplicable. We worked together at a local pizzeria and also his mom's bakery. We "played" together going to events, concerts, daily life adventures too numerous to recant. He was even in our wedding and if he could have been on the bride's side (my side), etiquette-wise, he would have been. He was a fixture in my life that I had believed would remain into our golden years though at this point, we were both only in our early 20's. And, sadly, that would not be the case.
It would be a horrific car accident that would take his life. A car travelling the opposite way, inadvertently caused him to run off the road, where his car spun out of control, side impacting a tree, on his side. Thankfully the passenger, another dear friend of ours, would survive. For several days though, Andy would be kept alive by machines, more machines than I have ever seen. Doctors attempted to save his life with emergency surgery to alleviate brain pressures, to no avail. I camped out at the hospital and I visited his room directly after we were told of his imminent demise. I went in alone. No joking on this day. This was a first for me and Andy. I grabbed his hand, and talked to him. I talked awhile and cried awhile and then it was time for me to go. At this point I still had a small spark of hope. How, I honestly don't know. Maybe it was denial, as I had never known anyone to die, ever, especially a young person, especially my friend! 'Young people don't die', I would think. It was the beginning of the darkest nightmare of my life. I leaned over and whispered, "FIGHT ANDY, FIGHT! With all that is in you; FIGHT!" It was then, he squeezed my hand. Excited that he had heard me, I raced out of the room to tell everyone the news. You see there had been zero alertness, nor was he ever coherent since his arrival at the hospital days before. Only hours later would I come to realize that it was not Andy responding to agree with me that he was was going to fight for his life. It wasn't Andy saying, "Ok, Amy, I will." It was Andy sadly saying, "...goodbye." Nurses and doctors, of course would explain it all away as a twitch or spasm of the dying process but I knew the truth. We knew. I felt in my heart and deep within my soul because that was the depth of our connection.
Months prior to the accident though, Andy and I would have several conversations that I believe were foreshadowing to me, from God. I don't think Andy knew. I honestly believe God prompted these conversations, to help us cope, to give and have comfort, to know what he would have truly wanted, for what was about to come. Andy said to me abruptly one day, "Amy, when I die. I want to be buried to Grateful Dead's, "Ripple" because that's my song. And...Amy, in the funeral home, Enya playing would be nice. I don't like typical funeral music." I looked at him, bewildered, angry and even creeped out. I snapped back, "Andy, what are you talking about?! I don't wanna talk about this with you! You're gonna outlive me so let's drop this. I'm not talking about this with you!"
Another time about a week before, while in a conversation, where I was not being very optimistic about someone or something. He looked at me, square in the eye, and said, "Amy you are one of the most negative people I know right now." Shocked at his statement, I gasped, offended, as Andy never said anything negative about anyone, especially me. I don't remember my response but I believe it got real quiet after that, and quiet was never in our repertoire. I can tell you those words haunted me for years to come. They changed me, shook me and impacted me to the core as now today, I am an eternal optimist; an encourager to all.
I will tell you my life has never been the same. Part of me died that day but another part was born. I did fall into a depression after that and do still grieve on the first days of Spring. I do hate that he is not, and was not, here, to experience life with me like we had always dreamed. I will always be disappointed that he never met my girls, saw them grow into phenomenal people and that they never knew how phenomenal he was. I do know that his influence on my life however, has rippled into theirs and thru multitudes of others whose life he touched. So the ripple continues...Andy's ripple of love, laughter and the zest for living ripples on, just as in the song we played that day... in his honor, at his grave.
10 Life Lessons I learned from the death of my best friend:
Life is precious; a precious gift that is fleeting.
Memories are priceless; as are people. Treasure them both to the fullest.
Life goes on. No matter how we don't think it can, should or will.
We are spiritual beings on an Earthly journey and there is, way more to life, than this.
God is there and there is always HOPE.
The depth of my grief does not equal the depth of my love.
I can be happy and smile again, without guilt.
It's okay to grieve and be sad, it's not okay for me to "live there permanently."
The best way for me to honor his life, is to live my own, to the fullest.
For my life to have meaning and purpose, I must live intentionally. I must start by choosing to live in the moment with each and every person I come in contact with. My goal being: to connect, leave them with love, laughter and better than when I found them. Yes, for my life to have meaning, I must live, laugh and love deeply and create a RIPPLE of my own.