I rarely wish I had MORE vices, but if there ever was a night I’d wish it, it would be tonight. I wish I could bring myself to drink until I’m numb… because this hurts.
I found out late last night that one of my best friends has died. It hurts in so many ways. It hurts that I didn’t find out sooner. It hurts to know that he died alone. It hurts that I had no chance to say goodbye. It hurts to know that someone who loved me so unconditionally is gone from my life and can never be replaced. But all the hurt is for myself.
There were so many times that I hurt for him, too. It hurt when I knew his fingers were so numb that he couldn’t type, and I couldn’t do anything to help him. It hurt when he dropped his laptop and broke it, because I couldn’t afford to just run out and buy him a new one, and I knew that was his link to the world and his friends. It hurt when his feet finally got so numb that he had to give up walking and start riding a scooter everywhere he went.
But he never wanted pity. Even though he groaned sometimes about his poor old body, he had his pleasures in life, too. He had friends that he loved; some he knew in person, and some only online, but he didn’t distinguish between them; they were all his friends. He loved his French Vanilla coffee; a good smoke; a pizza and a weekend of TV or movies in an air-conditioned (or heated) room. I’m so grateful to his many friends who gave him the things I couldn’t.
Although it was unfathomable to me, he enjoyed the freedom of going where he wanted, and sleeping where he wanted. He lived what I called a “singular” life; not only in the sense that he had lived an unusually rich life, but also in the sense that he had lived it more or less alone. He liked that phrase as a description. We had planned to use it as the title for a book of his poetry. Maybe I’ll still be able to get it done without him.
He taught me to see “homeless” more as “houseless” and not as just “less.” He showed me that “helping the homeless” is more about seeing their needs as people and meeting those needs than it is about “fixing” their situation. I helped him whenever I could, but I know that the gift he treasured most from me was my friendship and trust. He graciously gave me the same gift in return.
He taught me a lot about ADD/ADHD—which he had dealt with for a large portion of his life—and helped me to better deal with my son and his ADD. He taught me a lot of things about loving people for WHO they are. My son might not be alive today if not for the understanding that Andy taught me to show.
I think the most important thing he taught me was that you don’t have to meet someone in person to truly know and love them. I believe with all my heart that we truly did know each other, and I know Andy loved me, as surely as I know that he knew I loved him.
Rest in peace and comfort now, my dear Andy.