this weekend matt and i went back to hershey to attend a memorial service for a friend of mine who died back in february. just a few days after his 32nd birthday, andy died from brain cancer, which he'd been fighting for more than 2 years. he had been living in albuquerque, nm, so in february they held a very small funeral service for his family, but they wanted to be able to give his local hershey friends and family a chance to remember him. so this saturday, about 60 people gathered to remember him and to celebrate the incredible person he was.
i met andy my senior year of high school. to be honest, i'm not even sure how we met. i just know that immediately, he because one of my favorite people. he was easy to be around. he was funny in that way that kind of sneaks up on you - he's not trying to be outright funny, but his mind was just twisted enough that the things that come out of his mouth just crack you up. andy was the guy who was friends with everyone. it didn't matter who you were, what "group" you hung out with, or how "cool" you were. pretty much as long as he could talk to you, he loved you, fiercely and loyally. and he was always him. he never apologized for who he was, or took himself to seriously, or changed anything. he was andy. that was it. what you saw was what you got, and - like one of his friends said on saturday - either you were on the sheets train or you weren't. he wasn't slowing down for anyone. but man, if you went along for the ride, it was a special place to be.
what i remember most about andy, and what i will carry with me forever, was his love of music. the kid lived for it - any kind, any band, any venue - he breathed it. he was an extremely talented guitarist, and i could sit for hours listening to him and our friend keith play. it was andy who taught me to love music. he taught me to really sit with a song and hear it. he taught me to pick it apart and hear the guitar, hear the beat, hear the piano. don't just listen to the melody, but hear the words. he taught me to appreciate a musician's talent. going to live shows with andy was exciting because he'd get so into the music. he would lose himself. in watching him, i learned to do that. at concerts, you will most likely find me sitting/standing there, eyes closed, just swaying and moving to the music. i attribute that to andy.
saturday was our chance to get together and remember all of that. there were probably 30 "students" at the memorial, and i'd say 20 of us went to the troeg's brewery afterwards. i spent most of the day with keith, with whom most of my memories of andy are tied. but we did spend some time with the big group, and it was so great to hear people exchanging stories about him. even if it was a story i wasn't familiar with or hadn't been a part of, even if i hadn't known who they were talking about, i could have guessed it was andy. because andy was just.so.andy. and that's what everyone loved about him.
he will be missed by many. but it is clear that he will live on in all of us.