My friend Andy passed away late in the night on January 19th. Text messages and Facebook notifications woke me. We knew this was coming. My husband Chris had visited him the night that he died. He had fallen asleep that night worrying about Andy. I arose, carrying this terrible news, to wake my family. My husband was devastated. My children cried. We all tried to push forward that morning. The kids went to school. Chris went to work. I readied myself for work, but in the silence of my empty house, I broke down and cried.
Andy appeared to be a “tough guy.” His personality was electric. He was a welder, and a drummer in a punk band. His voice was gravelly and loud. But when it came to his daughter, he was the gentlest man I knew. Never owning a television, listening to music on records, and still using a flip phone, Andy taught his daughter about appreciating the simpler things in life. He taught her to be tough but sensitive. He would take her to renaissance fairs and birthday parties, and on motorcycle rides. He would read to her and do her hair. Every year, they would both put their hearts into their garden.
Rows and rows of beautiful, thriving plants lined his terraced backyard. He had a gazebo, and a pond. With fish in it! He had made his own rain-collecting watering system. PVC pipe zig-zagged in and out of each section. The rain that was thoughtfully saved made its way to each plant when the sun burned down. He knew the needs of every plant, how much sun, water, time to fruition. He spoke of each plant with pride.
The first time he heard me on the radio, he called my husband and said, “I can’t believe it! I just heard Angie
on the radio!” He said my writing brought tears to his eyes. When Chris came home and told me that, all I remember thinking was, “Andy listens to public radio?” Chris stared at me in disbelief, and said, “Yeah, he listens to it all the time. Didn’t you know?” Of all people, Andy listened to NPR! I became happy at the thought of him welding at his job, listening to me read a story on the radio. Andy made me promise to tell him when I would be on again so that he wouldn’t miss it. He always encouraged me to write more. Like with all his friends, he brought me the encouragement I needed, when I needed it most. He wanted me to flower, to blossom.
When we found out he had terminal cancer last May, we were shocked. Why Andy? How could we live without him? His daughter? The orchard we talked of starting together? What if the doctors are wrong? All our thoughts towards the future……we needed more time with him! He was the one person who was always there, who would drop what he was doing to come help, who always made us feel safe and loved. Now we sat helpless. We could not protect him from the inevitable, so we all rallied to help him through the process. Watching someone that you care for die is no easy task. Living on without them is even harder.
Andrew Langin, I am forever honored that I could call you my friend. Your friendship taught me how to be a better person, and you changed how I see the world. Though time continues to go on without you, your influence, kindness, and love will live on through all that loved you. The world as I see it has been shaped for the better by you.
(Music out is "Andy's Song" by The Spoox)