This series of posts will no doubt be the hardest I’ve written thus far. The subject is difficult. And, the story is real. This is the story of my dear friend, Andrew Gitsham. And, with his permission, I’m telling it to you.
I’ve known Andrew for more than twenty years. A true Brit from Worcestershire, England, he came over to the States as a teenager to experience American life for a couple of years. That is when he became a part of my life and the lives of a few of my friends. We always enjoyed Andrew – even his British confidence became endearing. And, the fact that he thinks he speaks “English” while I speak “American” is…..well, let’s just say it’s tolerable. When he left to go back to England, we kept in touch, albeit infrequently.
I visited him in England in 1994 then again in 1998. It was my last visit that he introduced me to Stacey.
Stacey was a beautiful girl who stole Andrew’s heart – a feat many of us doubted would happen. Andrew has always loved life – living it as large as any human being possibly can. So, settling down just didn’t seem in his blood, if you will. Much to my surprise, this handsome Englishman finally tied the knot with Stacey in 2001. On June 27, 2003, they gave birth to Joshua (the namesake of a mutual precious friend who had passed away in 1998.) Two years later on September 19, 2005, a baby girl made them a family of four. They named her Georgia – a name reminiscent of Andrew’s time spent there.
Andrew had become a real, live family man. And, he could not have been happier. He could not have been more fulfilled. But, on December 8, 2005, his life changed forever.
On a Thursday afternoon, Stacey, his two year old son, and his 11 week old baby girl, were all killed when their car burst into flames after having been hit by a truck on England’s A1. At that moment, everything was taken from him. In one brief moment, his worst nightmare stared him cold in the face.
I learned of Andrew’s loss three days later. I remember going out for a family lunch that Sunday afternoon and being filled with grief for him. I looked across at my own three year old and 1 year old and tried to imagine what that kind of loss feels like.
But, I couldn’t.
I don’t think any of us really can. To even put ourselves there mentally is too much. Just trying to wrap my brain around that kind of devastation makes me grasp for my own breath.
Shortly after, I finally spoke with Andrew on the phone. “Dusty, we were so very happy,” I recall him telling me.
The days that followed would not be easy ones. And, you can imagine the days where he wondered what there was left to strive for.
But, he kept striving anyway.
To be continued…