Today would have been his 36th birthday.
As far as I’m aware, we met at playgroup some 33 years or so ago and had been good friends ever since. That was until Andy was cruelly taken away from us back in October 2014.
I can remember that awful day like it was only yesterday. I’ve lost friends and family before, but that it was someone so young, so nice, so unexpected to me, I’d never felt anything like it.
I was sat on a train to Peterborough for a day out with my boyfriend, browsing Facebook on my phone. That’s when I saw it, a message from Andy’s partner Eddy: “It’s with a sad and shattered heart that I have to tell you all that Andy, despite his determination and enormous strength, passed away this morning.”
I let out a sound I’d never heard before. My heart was crushed. How could we live in such a cruel world? Why Andy? Why?! My poor boyfriend didn’t know what was going on and I couldn’t get the words out, so I passed him the phone. I spent the rest of the day and weekend bursting into tears as I thought of my dear friend and his family.
He had been ill in hospital, but I thought he’d been getting better. I thought he’d be home soon. Something that tears me up? I didn’t visit him in hospital. Somehow I’d been too busy and had put it off. What an idiot. I guess I hadn’t realised just how bad it was.
How do you get over losing someone? I’ve learnt that you don’t, not really. You learn to cope with missing them. I really can’t imagine his partner’s and family’s loss, it’s much greater than mine.
We went through playschool, primary school and high school together. Some lunch breaks, we’d walk into town and meet up with his mum and nan on market day. I remember going to the college farm open day with him and writing to him when he moved to work with horses. Andy was great with horses, it was like he had some kind of infinity with them. I always swore I’d get him to teach me to ride one day. Alas, I left it too late.
One summer’s day (I haven’t a clue how old we were), a couple of friends and I decided to go for a bike ride up to Andy’s. He lived on a farm at the very top of a hill, a few miles out of the village. Halfway up the hill we had to get off and push. It was hard work, but a bit of an adventure to us. Thankfully, Andy was in and we spent hours playing on the farm. I even remember his uncle Ian chasing us as we played among the bales. Of course, we all got a telling off from our parents as it began to get dark and my dad had to come and pick us up (putting our bikes in the boot of the car).
Another great memory is of going up to Andy’s for bonfire night. His family built a massive bonfire and put on a good firework display (although I do remember one escaped rocket flying right past our legs!). You could see for miles from their place, even the lights of a town a distance away.
One year, my friend Kim, Andy and I coloured our hair pink and collected money for charity at the local May Festival. Andy was up for anything and would do all he could for people.
I hadn’t seen much of Andy in later years, but we were still good friends. When we met up or bumped into each other, he was always easy to talk to and time didn’t seem to change him.
I’ll always miss Andy, The world is a little less bright without him.
I’ll leave you with a poem I wrote for him after his death. His family chose to use the last verse on his funeral service sheet.
A big heart and a big smile.
We miss you already,
Yet, you’ve only been gone a short while.
Such a bright light,
Sadly put out.
The world’s a darker place now,
For that there’s no doubt.
For you we will shed
More than a tear.
Can’t believe you’ve gone.
So wish you were still here.
Such a wonderful friend,
You gave so much care.
You had so much left to give,
So much left to share.
We’ll think of you always
And miss you for sure.
It hardly seems fair
We won’t see you anymore.
Taken too soon,
But brave until the very end.
The world has lost a star.
Rest in peace, my friend.