I’m not sure where to start this, so I suppose that I’ll start from the very beginning.
Several years ago, when I was around 14-15 years old, I met what soon became one of my dearest friends. I remember him, like it was yesterday, sitting in a dark room in a trailer that had no heat, wrapped in a blanket in a recliner chair, playing games on the ps2. I had his brother with me, who at the time was my closest friend in high school, and I had two other friends with me as well. We all smoked a bowl, and we laid on the bed and giggled our asses off while Andrew sat there in his chair shaking his head at us “noobs”.
Over the course of the following years, I became closer with him. I tried dating him off and on a few times, but I always chased after something that I thought would be better for me; I was wrong. I took the relationship that I had with him for granted. I could talk to him about literally anything in the world, and I know that he’d never judge me. He told me regularly how much he was in love with me, the love he had for me was unconditional. There were a few times where we’d go without speaking because I was too afraid of hurting him, but it never would last more than a couple months at a time. He was always there for me each time my heart was broken, he was there with the biggest hugs that would pick me up off of the ground, his shoulder absorbed a lot of snot and tears from, I loved him more than words can say. He was there for me, no matter what.
When I was 16, he tried to run away with my friend (his brother) and I hated him for taking Zack from me. I hated him so much for taking my best friend… and I hated him for leaving. I missed him, more than anything, I missed how he just didn’t give a fuck. I looked up to him, I looked up to his courage, I admired how fearless he was. how he didn’t care about just sticking a thumb out and going wherever the road would take him. He did so many things that I had always wanted to do. He was always into some kind of trouble, into fights left and right, he had a skateboard and a mohawk, he was all punk-rock.. He gave me my first mohawk, which he screwed up beyond all reason.. He called me up on the phone whenever he was able to while him and Zack were on the road. The two of them eventually had some kind of a falling out and wound up going separate ways while they were gone, Zack wound up settling down in California and Andrew wound up hitch-hiking home… He came back with stories about how he’d walked 20-40 miles and I was all he could think of to keep him going. It was super romantic, and super stupid all packed into the same thing. I loved him for it, I adored him to pieces. He made me feel like I was special, like I was on top of the world, like I was valuable.
The last time that I saw him, it was his birthday. I took him out to dinner at Kit Carson, bought him a burger, and then we went out drinking in Rochester at a party. I was worried the entire time that he’d get into some kind of trouble like he usually did when he was drinking, but he was fine. He didn’t get into a single fight, I was so proud of him. I took him home, and on the way drunkenly started crying. I looked over at him and he told me “You know I love you, right? I’ve always loved you, and I always will.” My heart sank, I was in a long-drawn-out relationship that was highly toxic, but I had a daughter with the guy I was with. I sat in silence. I hugged him goodbye, kissed his cheek, and told him I’d pick him up the next afternoon for hempfest.
I took him to hempfest with three other people, they hot-boxed my car on the way up, we tried as best we could to walk through the park where it was in Seattle but it was so full of people that it felt near impossible. I didn’t smoke the entire time, by my own choice. I got some lemonade with Andrew and we sat on the rocks by the water and just talked about life, random things, things we always talked about. It was then that I decided that it would be bad to continue to string him along, I cared too much about him.. I decided to distance myself. I loved him too much to see him hurt while I was with some guy who I was completely aware was terrible for me. I stopped talking to Andrew for a few months before I finally gave in and called him.
Every single day we would talk on the phone, before I went to work, while I was at work on my lunch break, after work on my way home, while I was at home on my days off and bored.. We talked so much on the phone that I’m fairly certain that’s why I hate talking on the phone today; it reminds me of him.
The last time I talked to him, he had said that his friend David was coming up to visit. That they had plans to go out drinking together, I told him not to do anything stupid (as I always did) and I told him to have fun. I didn’t think that this would be the last conversation we had, but I still remember it like it was yesterday. I still remember sitting in the “smoke-shack” at work on my lunchbreak and wishing that I didn’t have to go back inside while I was on the phone with him. We talked about how great he was doing, how he was all set up to go back to school, he was going to be a mechanic. He hadn’t drank in a long time, he’d been steering clear of drugs, I was so fucking proud of him.
On May 16th, 2010, I went to the beach with my parents. The entire day I was uneasy, I knew that there was something wrong. I got a call from Andrew’s phone while I was sitting on the beach watching my daughter play in the sand, I smirked and answered. It wasn’t Andrew. It was his cousin’s wife, she told me that Andrew had passed away. I sat there stunned. I sat there heart-broken. I sat there feeling like I was in a million pieces. I felt like my entire world had just turned upside down. I felt like a complete wreck. I called Jessy and told her, she offered to come out and meet me at the beach. I told her not to bother. I remember sitting in the car on the way home and hearing about how Ronnie James Dio had just died, and I remember thinking “leave it to Andrew to take an amazing rockstar with him”. I cried. I cried so hard. I cried for days and days, months, in fact there are still days that I cry when I think about him. It’s all I can do not to cry while I type all of this up.
His memorial came and I couldn’t even sit through the entire thing. I sat outside and chain smoked, I bawled, I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I couldn’t help think about how all these people didn’t know Andrew like I knew him, I couldn’t help but think about how fake most of them were.. I couldn’t help think about how badly I wanted to kill his ex-girlfriend for saying that Andrew ever loved her. I couldn’t help but hate the entire world for taking him away from me.
I told myself that the day I was ready to accept that Andrew was gone, the day I was ready to let go of it all and take another step forward, I would get a tattoo in memory of him. It’s been five, very long, years. Every single day I think about him, I wish that I saw him walking down the road, I wish that I had some kind of a sign from him. I dream about him occasionally, still, and it eats me alive, but today… Today I am letting go. Today I went and got a tattoo in memory of him. Today I am taking that large step in, what I believe to be, the right direction. Today I am accepting that this is how things are. Today I’m saying goodbye, Andrew.. Today I’m saying I love you, but today I’m opening my heart and accepting that I can love other people too, not just you. I’m accepting that no one will ever be like you, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t hold them as near and dear as I did you. Thank you, Andrew, for teaching me so many things, even after you left.
Let today be remembered as a major milestone for me. It really is.
I chose the anarchy sign because it’s something that he was passionate about. It reminds me of how rebellious he was, how firm he was in his beliefs, it reminds me of his carefree attitude and his punk-rock ideals, and it’s something I care about as well… He had one on his arm, poorly done by a friend with a home-made gun, and I figured nothing would suit him better than this. I got it the closest place I could get to my heart, because that’s where he’ll always be and where he’s always been.. and, well, That’s where he belongs. That’s where my memories are of him.
This is me letting go.
Rest in peace.