Sunday, July 17, 2011
I met Andy while he was playing gigs at local bars and venues back home in TN. After the show, we would sit on the back porch and talk for hours. Dreams. Fears. Adventures. My favorites were his love stories about his parents. Some of the best nights of my life were spent on that back porch.
When I left for boot camp, Andy was more upset about me leaving than anyone else, even though he was very proud of me at the same time. He didn't know it at the time, but he was the only person that could have convinced me not to go.
I left on September 11, 2007. Andy died 17 days later.
Andy was on his way home when his Jeep left the road and hit a tree. That tree was pushed over and the Jeep sorta climbed it and hit the tree behind it. No one knows why he left the road, although a neighbor claimed to have seen another car that left the scene. The impact of the sudden stop against the tree pulled his arteries away from his heart....which is what actually killed him.
I have had recurring dreams about Andy's accident for the past couple years. Every time I'm riding shotgun in his Jeep and I'm smelling, seeing, and feeling everything, just as he did that day. He's talking to me, but the only lines I ever remember are "All of my heroes have broken hearts" and "I sure do love you Nika". Every time I wake up sweating and panicked and hurting. Physically hurting, like the things I felt in the dream actually happened to me, even though they didn't.
Last night was another one of those nights. Except this time, instead of one dream, it was every dream. Every single dream I had last night was about Andy. Or his accident was involved in some way. And in every dream, no matter what happened or who tried to change things, it was always the same. Andy's death would always be from that heart trauma.
At some point in these dreams, I was standing in the middle of Rakestraw Road and I started hearing things that Andy had said or written in the months before he died. This time, the words hit me a little differently. This time, when I heard him say "I guess that's just how my story was meant to be written", I realized that the same went for his death. No matter how many what ifs and maybes and if onlys, no matter how many ways he died in my dreams, no matter how many times I tried to fix it or stop it in my dreams, it was always meant to be that way. Part of Andy's story was for him to die.
Andy always talked about his heroes having broken hearts. Last night I realized that my hero died from one.