Five years. Five long years. Five years of random tears. Five years of wondering what might have been. Five years of heartache. Yes, I still think of you every day. Yes, I miss you every single day. Yes, it still hurts.
It struck me today that while I still struggle with Andrew's death, I am not alone. I know God is with me, but I am referring to others who also experienced this terrible day with me. I got the call from my boss to come to the hospital emergency room because Andrew had been in an accident. How hard must that call have been for Cynamin? She knew he was gone, but couldn't tell me because they needed me to drive carefully to get there. Thank you, Lord, for providing a strong woman of faith to make that initial call. I know she was praying for us as soon as she knew.
The first person I called was Matt. How difficult that call was to make because technically, I couldn't say for certain he was gone. My head knew it, but my heart didn't want to believe it. Matt went from older brother to only child in a phone call. He lost a brother with no warning and no opportunity to say goodbye. I couldn't offer much comfort as I have never lost a sibling and because I was crumbling knowing I had lost a child. Matt was in Augusta, so he had to drive back to Atlanta, what a difficult journey that was for him. Thank you, Lord, for delivering him safely home, while providing friends who comforted him via telephone and were waiting at the hospital to welcome him when he arrived.
Next, I called my brother Chris, the brother who lives in London. What a rock he is, a calming voice in the storm of chaos in my mind. He was just two days away from being home for Easter. I wouldn't learn until later of his pain and guilt over the accident. You see, Chris controlled Andrew's trust from our mom and he had given Andrew the money to buy the motorcycle. I had no idea the guilt he had and the what-ifs he went through. It never occurred to me to blame Chris, nor do I. If you knew Andrew, then you know, he would have gotten the money another way if Chris had said no. Thank you, Lord, for a brother and uncle who loves and cares so deeply.
I don't remember the exact order of other people I called, but there was my Aunt Becky and Uncle Mike, who were headed to their grandson's birthday party. Instead, they rerouted themselves to the hospital, a two-hour drive for them. Thank you, Lord, for a family that understands that just being there is important.
I called my sisters on my way to the hospital, which were also difficult calls to make. At the time I called my sisters, I wasn't at the hospital, so I wasn't 100% certain of his status. By the time they had gotten there, I assumed they knew he was gone, so when they walked in the room to see him, they were shocked to learn he had died. How awful was that for them? I thought they already knew so when they asked me how he was, I coldly said, "he's dead," not realizing they didn't know. I'll always regret not being softer when I told them. They called our brother, Michael, who lives in California to give him the news. He caught the next flight out and arrived very early the next morning. Thank you, Lord, for siblings who show up without having to say, I need you.
I called a friend and co-worker, Cindy, and she came straight to the hospital, even though she had just left for the day. She sat with me while I cried and helped me make phone calls. Thank you, Lord, for providing friends who show up when needed.
When I got to the hospital, Sherri met me at the entrance to escort me through the emergency room to where they were keeping Andrew. I knew he was gone when I saw her because she had been crying. If you don't know, Andrew and I both worked at the hospital, Andrew in the emergency room, and Sherri was his boss. I'm sure it was difficult for Sherri to have to make that walk with me. She put her arm around me while the doctor went through the "we did all that we could" rhetoric. I remember saying, probably frantically, "where is he?" and "can I see him?". I was truly worried they were going to say I couldn't see him, fearing he was too "mangled" from the crash. I just knew that as a mom, there was no way I could say goodbye if I couldn't see him. Thank you, Lord, for Sherri and her caring and comforting spirit.
Many things become blurry at this point, I had so many more calls to make, including calling Natalia, Andrew's girlfriend. Knowing I needed her to get to the hospital safely, I wasn't sure what to tell her. I tried to get her mom to bring her, but due to a language barrier, it ended up her knowing he had been in an accident. When she arrived and I had to tell her he was gone, it was awful. They had been together since junior year of high school. Thank you, Lord, for giving Andrew someone who loved him so deeply and completely.
At some point, I also called my friend Tami. Tami has known Andrew since he was two. Our boys grew up together through after-school care and basketball at church. We bonded as single-mothers of boys and over our love of baseball. She was as much a mom to Andrew as I was, so her pain was just as real as mine. She was devastated when I told her. She was so upset, I found myself comforting her and she was apologizing for not comforting me. But that is what happens when a friendship is that deep, comfort occurs naturally. Thank you, Lord, for giving me a friendship that has lasted so long and remained so deep.
Since we were in the emergency room, where Andrew worked, all of the staff were coming by to offer support and condolences. Many of them were crying, after all, they had just said good-bye to him less than an hour earlier as he headed home from his shift. As family and friends began arriving, as well as co-workers who had left for the day, but heard the news and returned, the hospital administrator, Jay, made arrangements to move us to another area of the hospital that was closed for the day. This allowed us plenty of space to receive friends and family, without disrupting the emergency room. He even made sure to tell me we could stay as long as we wanted to. Thank you, Lord, for providing Andrew and me with an employer who understood the value of associates and for treating us like family.
I would also learn later of the two women who had stopped to help Andrew immediately following the crash. One was my next-door neighbor and she continues to pray for me. The other, someone I have never met, but she held Andrew in her arms, said his name, and offered him comfort as he was dying. To this woman, Allison, I am eternally grateful. How amazing that she cared enough to find out his name, having someone search his backpack to find out what it was, so she could call him by his name. But also, how difficult must this have been for her? She is a mom too, so she did what a mother would do, comforting a child and praying for them. Her own children, much younger than Andrew, watched her from their car. How difficult that must have been for them and how difficult must it have been for her to talk about with them afterward? Thank you, Lord, for providing these women of faith in just the right place, at just the right time.
Yes, I still have difficult days. Yes, I still miss him. Yes, it bothers me that people think I should be over it by now. No, I don't think I will ever be over it and yes, that is okay. Everyone grieves differently, but a mother grieves forever. Thank you, Lord, for never leaving me, even in my grief.