Updated – 9/17/10 –

I want to make a correction to this blog – and so I’m editing what I previously wrote, and clarifying in this paragraph as well.   As Railroader, in his comment, confirmed and as Drew’s family now knows, he was NOT talking on his cellphone.  There were witnesses and videos to confirm this, and it’s unforgiveable that this myth has been perpetuated anywhere – most especially by me, someone who loved him dearly and thinks of him daily.  And I apologize to his family for any additonal pain this post might have caused them. 

I’ve had more than my share of anticipated deaths over the past five years – parents, dogs, best friends.  Beings who I loved who died after lingering, contemplation and time to say goodbye.

Today was a different kind of death.  So incredibly sudden that not even the departed had time to prepare.

Andrew Weaver was one of the first of Pat’s friends who I met when we started dating 26 years ago.  I remember the first time I met him – he was working behind the line at a greasy spoon Greek restaurant in Boulder called the Aristocrat.  Pat had dated Andrew’s little sister before me and they had stayed close friends.

A big guy, with big appetites and few manners, he had a heart of gold, and would give you the shirt off his back – literally.  He was one of the most loyal people I know and asked only the same in return.  He had a soft spot for animals and kids, and had been down on his luck enough times to have compassion for others who found themselves in the same boat.  He was “Uncle” to Kelsea and to many other children as well.  A confirmed gossip, he was the first person I called after I moved out of Pat’s house.  I knew that telling Drew would save me the discomfort of telling anyone else.

He worked for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe – he’d encouraged me to apply for a job as an engineer, because there were so few women engineers and he thought it would be a cool thing for me.  This morning, he was killed, struck by a commuter train going 80 mph in a Minneapolis suburb, crossing a track from behind another train.

I can’t help but think about what the accident must have looked like, about what was left of him looked like.  I don’t want to think about it.  But I can’t help it.

And I can’t help but think about the absence in this world of light – the absence of his booming voice, his tight hugs, his unvarnished comments, and his gentle, unlucky spirit.

As I drove to work this morning, before the news came, I saw a double BNSF engine paused before the bridge overpass, and I thought of him.  I thought of his getting his MBA, of how he chewed with his mouth open, of his new girlfriend, of that blissful motorcycle ride he took me on one summer day, of how he looked in his black turtleneck after he broke his neck, of how he couldn’t turn his head because of poor spinal fusions, of how he’d told me things about Pat that I needed to know, of how he wept on my hands when I once visited him in jail, of how he used to bring me the most fragrant leis from Hawaii, where he was raised, and where his Mother is buried.  And perhaps he will be buried.  I thought of all those things before I knew he was gone.  Before I knew that there would not be any more new things to add to those thoughts of him.

It is September 1.  The world has lost a good man.  And I have lost a good friend.

Drew and Kelsea at Uncle CJ’s wedding.