I felt at peace when I awoke this morning. Andrew died two years ago, on another March 8, but this morning I awoke and noticed the birdsong and cherry blossoms, that it is raining and grey–Andrew’s favorite weather. I know that he is in a better place, that he is at peace, as he’s shown me through dream visits, so I can hold peace in my heart for him. I lingered in bed a moment, having heard a message beep into my phone during the night, knowing it was from a friend in Holland, knowing he’d already been commemorating Andrew. I read Jozzy’s message–he’d sent a beautiful photo of Andrew drumming that he hadn’t seen before–and scrolled the Dead Moon fan page to read what others were posting. The themes are always the same–Andrew’s sense of humor, his selflessness, his making everyone feel important and like a friend, his musicianship, his addiction, his demons.
March 8, 2016. I got to the hospital early, knowing we had a meeting with the doctors and hospice care. Andrew’d been there for 11 days at that point. The night before, his brother Matt and I sat up late, waiting for a night doctor to do yet another diagnostic procedure. We were getting scared and were worn down. This was A’s second long hospital stay since New Year’s, and he’d started to look frail at Christmas. So Matt and I sat there and tried not to panic.
When I did arrive at the hospital on March 8, I knew. Andrew seemed deflated, no longer his magnanimous self. Then the end-of-life doctor met with us and told us he only had hours left. I went back to Andrew’s room and told him the doctor was coming to talk to him. I held one of his hands while she told him that he was dying, that he had “precious few hours” left. He hadn’t been able to talk for the past four days. His bright eyes widened and he shook his head. She bent over his chest and said “you have people here who love you so deeply, spend this time with them.” Then she turned to us and said they’d give us time and then the nurse would be in to get him ready. Get him ready, which meant hook up the morphine drip. I asked to have a moment alone. Andrew asked me, with hand gestures, and his eyes, to tell him everything and why, so I explained that yesterday we’d thought he had a few months and this morning all the tests showed that his organs were shutting down. The stronger systems could no longer function with the weakened systems. He looked the most frightened at the idea of the morphine. So I held him, as best I could with him in an ICU bed and tubes everywhere and I told him how much he’d meant in my life. Private words, words I’d wished I had more time, more years to tell. And he listened, all pretense gone. Family came back in the room, the nurse did her work, and as she hooked up the morphine, I played Neil Young’s “Out on the Weekend” on my phone, Andrew and I listening with our heads together, the phone between our ears. It was the song he’d called me and told me to listen to one night when we first started dating, saying he could imagine it as us.
We’d had so little time together. And Andrew was a wreck of a version of himself when we started. He was run down physically and barely hanging on emotionally. He’d been in an abusive relationship, a hard one because when she wasn’t beating him, she was really nice and taking very good care of him, helping him improve his health, got him off booze, gave him hope in the post Dead Moon years.
He texted me one night in 2014, out of the blue, just a few days after his birthday… “I love you, always have, so fucking deal with it.” Not knowing if this was a sentimental you’re one of the friends I really love moment, or what the fuck, I texted back what we used to say about things in our twenties “back attcha.” A minute later my phone rang, and Andrew said he didn’t like how his life was going and he just wanted me to know he loved me, always had. We talked about this and that… what I was watching on Netflix, what he was looking at while outside smoking and calling me. Months went by, and then he asked me to Seattle for a Dead Moon reunion show. Somewhere in the mix of that weekend or the days after, back in Olympia, he said “I don’t mean I love you like all my friends, like we’re good friends… we are, but I love you.” I said, “I know.”
It was a hard year. That show in Seattle was the first weekend in March, 2015, marking just a few days short of a 365-day year for us finally together. I gave up a lot to be with Andrew… I left a job I loved to move back to Portland with him. I sold my family home. I didn’t really have a solid plan, and have been on a rocky personal and professional path since. And taking care of a very ill person is hard. Indescribably hard.
But wouldn’t you? Do anything, I mean, to be with the love of your life?
I’ve had a couple of people who know our story say maybe, in that mysteries of life way, it had to be me taking care of him at his end. I’ve had my moments–even as recently as last week when I called my sister in a panic, asking her if Andrew seemed like he really loved me or just needed me. I’ve had people tell me a bunch of crazy bullshit about how I must have been the secret girl, or how I should have my bones buried with his ashes, or how on a bad day last summer I should be over it by now. And sometimes I wonder about my sensibility of jumping at the chance of a dream I had when I was twenty-two, to be with Andrew. Andrew and I simply didn’t have enough time to know what being in love together meant.
Another friend said, just the other day–she’s the one I was with the night in 1984 I met Andrew and fell in love-at-first-sight love with him, “Andrew’s soul was so big, he could fall out a door anywhere and someone would catch him.” We all know he had demons, and now I know their nature. I’m so glad each of us caught him, time and again.
So now I am crying, for my own loss of the beautiful boy I saw standing in the drink line at Virginia Cafe all those years ago. And for Andrew’s sorrow and pain that ultimately led to his early death through self-destruction. And these goddamned incessant tears fall for all of us who feel such an absence today. They fall to the back beat in my head of the Partridge Family song, “I Woke Up in Love this Morning.” These have been the worst two years of my life. I will never be over losing Andrew, though I will find peace with it… in the birdsong every year when the cherries bloom.