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…
10 responses to “Across the Atlantic – Part One”
I can’t imagine how hard retelling this story must be. Can you say tears! and what a Storm Andrew must have gone through. After my grandfather passed several years ago we were in Puerto Rico and I imagined life a w/o my father prematurely, and as you mentioned before I was left grasping for my own breathe. I look forward to reading more
What a devastating loss. My heart aches and I feel that I can’t breathe. Life is so precious. Stories like this make me want to stay in my house with my family and never leave again. So silly I know and relinquishes the knowledge that God is our protector but the fear and the sadness that it brings to my heart is… well, you know, terrible.
This will be a deep week. Your blog and Cindy’s blog will deal with many hearts.
This story stirs up so many emotions. My heart is full and heavy. Andrew, you are so brave and I admire that you are allowing Dusty to share your story. I know that it will touch many hearts. I love you!
My heart goes out to Andrew, I remember getting the word to pray for Andrew and his family. What a beautiful family, I saw a beautiful picture of the family. Prayers for you, are going up during this rememberance.
Dusty – nicely written, my friend
Andrew – God heals broken hearts and makes them better than new. I’m living proof.
Great blod Dusty, I had the honor to chat with Andrew a week ago, and he so bless my life once again, we were able to talk about years ago when he would come and visit us with Josh and the “things” they would get into. I treasure those memories. Andrew, as I mentioned a week ago, just want to say we love you and you will always have a home here in Georgia with us….Looking forward to your visit “Soon”
When I found out about Andrew’s loss of his entire family almost 3 years ago, I couldn’t imagine how he would be able to go on. After2 MVA’s in the last 8 years, with the headon 2 years ago that could have taken Morgan’s life, I still flashback and wonder how I would have been able to go on if any of my family had been killed in either wreck. With Alex driving and Morgan riding with him now to school on a daily basis, I pray EVERYDAY for traveling mercies and God’s hand of protection over their lives. Just wait until the 1st time JH pulls out of your driveway in a car for the 1st time by himself…Trust me, it is a very sickening feeling not to mention the double dose you will have when Anna is in the passenger seat with him! I made Alex drive a year BEFORE I would let Morgan ride with him by herself. The first time the phone rings and your Child is on the other end of the phone and says they have been in a wreck, you will throw up. I now, I have been there! When kids are little we pray for their safety and think it will get better when they get older….I am here to tell you, it doesn’t….the prayers change, but it is still for their safety. Andrew, my heart still feels sad for you!
Thank you for sharing this, Dusty. Just this past Monday I was sharing with a friend that I have had a year of many losses – my husband lost his good health, he lost his job, we lost our financial stability, I lost my job ( by my choice, but it was still a loss); I helped my sister as she lost her job, and most recently I lost my precious Dad. Even though I wasn’t having a pity party, I was in fact rationalizing why I am not fully engaging in life as I used to. Wow! My losses are nothing compared to Andrew’s. Thank you for helping me put my life in the proper perspective. Blessings —
such a sad story ..how brave Andrew is ..My sympathy to him ..