It came out of nowhere and changed the lives of his family and friends forever.
Last week as he was walking home from work, Andrew was hit by a car on a busy street. In a split second, he received a catastrophic brain injury that would mark the end of his short life.
I don’t remember what I was doing when I heard the news. It wouldn’t have mattered. To hear news like this would rattle your foundation no matter how busy you are or wherever you might find yourself.
The whole thing just didn’t seem real. But as the events unfolded, and Facebook posts from his family and friends revealed more details, the horrible reality began to set in.
This afternoon we gathered together to mourn the passing of this young man who made an indelible imprint on all our lives. Men who rarely wear ties were decked out in their funeral finest. Others had on whatever they were wearing at work.
So what imprint did Andrew make on my own life?
We knew his dad and stepmom, his brother and sister, and the rest of his blended family. We went to the same church for over a decade. We had been to their house several times over those years.
And Andrew dated my daughter for a few months.
There were lots of things I learned from Andrew.
The first is that you can smile no matter what life hands you. At least that is what I saw. When we talked, he was always in a good mood. He even smiled when life was the most painful. That’s the kind of resiliency I’ve aimed for myself. To see it in someone so young was impressive.
Andrew knew about grace. He grew up in a Christian home and was taught about how God came to give us grace when we didn’t deserve it. His dad said that Andrew understood grace better than anyone because he needed it so much.
We’d all do well to remember that, too.
Try as I might to be good, I know that I need grace. I’m like everyone else. I cover up my junk so people will think I have my act together. But I know deeply how much I need Jesus. No one had to tell this to Andrew. He was willing to admit his struggles. He knew he needed grace because he was so aware that his demons were real and could consume him.
Andrew understood grace in death. He made the decision to grant life to others should his come to an end by agreeing to be an organ donor. Even before his memorial service, two people were given his kidneys.
Now that the service is over, the hugs have been exchanged, and the condolences have been offered, the road ahead for most of us will be to go on with our lives. The Bath family will have to do this too. But it won’t be nearly as easy for them as it will be for the rest of us.
Andrew’s birthday was close to Christmas, and he won’t be there for any of it. The weight of death is heavy enough, especially when it comes so suddenly. So if you would, please pray for them in the weeks and months ahead. If you know them, give them a call or send a message from time to time. These small tokens of affection will make a difference as they move on past this.
And Andrew, if you can hear me, it was a privilege to know you. Thanks for the lessons you shared, even if you weren’t aware you were teaching us anything.
Now go out there and hug your family.