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My friend Andrew’s sister Sarah and her husband John have worked tirelessly to correct the media’s misrepresentation that Andrew was on his cell phone at the time of his death.  Their efforts have been rewarded by Minnesota Public Radio which carried a story that corrected that lie.  The Anoka County Sheriff’s Department has issued an apology for its rush to judgement, and a retraction stating that Drew was not on his cell phone.  Further investigations by the Federal Railroad Association are ongoing.

Please read the story here: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2010/10/04/bnsf-worker/.

I admire Sarah and John for their efforts to make sure that Andrew’s reputation as an exemplary worker, whose foremost thought on the job was for safety, was restored.  I’m sure it was a very difficult thing to hear, and to do, so persistently, given the depth of their pain and loss. 

Bravo, you two, bravo.  Andrew is so very proud.

I wrote before about losing my friend Andrew to a tragic accident on September 1.  Today was the day of his memorial service here in Boulder.  I had definitely shed a few tears, but as is often the case with me, I had delayed my reaction to his death for several weeks.  I was tearful through most of the service, but once I hugged our friend C.J., the emotional dam cracked.  I started to weep.  After composing myself slightly, I sat and watched the slide show that Drew’s nephew had put together; then I lost it.  Just lost it.  The dam broke.  His dear friend Tom came and sat with me, clearly beaten down by his own grief, and let me cry.  He gave me one of Drew’s many (many) bandanas to cry in, to dry my tears, to remember him by.  Then I got better.

It is so hard to know that he is gone, that I won’t see him again. SO hard.

This celebration of Andrew was exactly what he would have wanted.  It was exactly what he DID want.  All his friends together, from all over the country, telling stories, laughing, crying.  So many of us walked away today with the same resolution – to be like Andrew and keep connected with our friends.   If there was one thing that stands out for me about him, it was his remarkable gift for staying in touch, for caring across the miles, for making sure you KNEW that he cared.  The best way that any of his friends could possibly honor him is to live our lives in that same spirit – the spirit of letting our friends know that they are not forgotten, not alone.  That is the simple, priceless legacy of this oh-so-human man.

One of the nicest things about today, aside from seeing some old friends, was making a new one.  What a wonderful surprise, what a wonderful gift, that I sat next to a woman I had met before, and we discovered we hit it off like we’d known each other for years.

I had been talking with a friend about this last night, about how bad I am at staying in touch with people who I love.  After today, I am more resolved than ever to change that facet of myself, to shed my own perception of myself as someone others don’t care about staying in touch with.  That perception is built solely by me and my own actions.  If I don’t like it, I can do something about it.  And that something will allow my life to be fuller and richer, just as Andrew’s was.  He never did anything halfway, and no one who knew him could say that his life was half-lived.  There were bad times and wonderful times, and he lived them all to the fullest extent possible.  The pictures of him on the slide show, on the cubes on the tables, all showed his joy.  I now wish I had been able to share in that joy even more than I did.

Of course, Andrew was there.  Towards the end of the afternoon, I experienced that odd shamanic phenomenon of seeing his face in others, just a glance, a glimpse, and it was gone.  On top of my visit with him a few days after his passing, it made sense – he did love to play and no one loved a good party better than Drew.  And he wanted so much to be sure that everyone was okay – especially Sarah.  He is playing now, playing with his new abilities to stay in touch with the people he loved.  He is smiling, as always.

His sister and his friends did a wonderful job arranging everything, expressing their feelings, and helping all of us remember the joy that was Andrew.  I thank them.  And I thank members of his railroad family for coming.

But most of all, I thank Andrew for having been a part of my life.  I miss him.

January 2019
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