Wednesday, July 15, 2009

11 years ago today

Eleven years ago today, at 8:12am my brother died. On July 6, 1998 my brother, Andy, came home to surprise my dad for his birthday. See my brother went to college 3 or so hours away from home. He had a job down there and an apartment, so he just lived there year round. I was at church camp that week helping out in the kitchen. So I didn't get to see him, but I was able to talk to him once on the phone. That night he drove back to his apartment and on the way someone turned in front of him, ultimately ending his life. Andy was airlifted to a hospital in Columbus, Ohio. He never regained consciousness. He would have survived with his outside injuries which consisted of a broken leg, a broken wrist, and some cuts and bruises. But it was what was on the inside that we couldn't see that ended his life. The brain is a tricky organ, and it sure tricked us a lot. My brother's brain was so swollen that they literally had to lift a flap of his skull back to relieve the pressure. We had a lot of false hope that week from the doctors. It was so very hard to remain positive, especially for all of the people who came down to visit us. Then on July 15, 1998 we took him off the ventilator. Andy was only 22 then, and he had a living will. His will stated that he did not want to be kept alive by machines, if he could not read or write, then he did not want to live. My brother was majoring in Creative Writing. That's all he wanted to do was write, words were his passion. So my parents had to honor his wishes and he passed right away after the machines were turned off.

I don't want this walk to be a painful, slow, agonizing walk through all of my awful memories of a 14 year old girl. This is not a Judy Bloom novel. I want you all to meet the most wonderful brother a girl could ever have. I want you all to smile with me and feel so blessed that I introduced you to Andy May.

My brother was 8 years older then me. My parents had Andy when they were very, very young. Then they experienced 3 miscarriages between the two of us. I was their miracle child, and trust me, I never let them forget that. My brother was at a birthday party when I was born. He was not very interested in me at first, but I soon captured his heart. My parents often had to remind him that they were the parents, he was just the brother. Overprotective might be an understatement. I was always that tag-along sister, despite the age difference.

This is my brother and his very best friend, Parker. We are still in touch with Parker today. After Andy died we started a scholarship in his name at our high school. Parker sits on the committee with me and helps select the recipient each year. Parker meant a lot to my brother and I feel so blessed to still have him in my life.

Don't laugh at my poofy bangs! They were so cool in 1997, or at least I thought so. This was at Christmas, 7 months before Andy died. This was our last picture together. You can tell he was thrilled to up super early on Christmas. Despite his cool, nonchalant exterior, he was super soft and warm on the inside.

I think this was the last known picture of my brother. He got this tattoo in May of '98. It is an incongruency sign. In math terms it means not equal, but to my brother it represented mankind. We all are different, yet we all are equal, we all are striving for the same things. Andy was an organ donor, but since his tattoo was less then a year old, we were unable to donate any of his organs because it takes a year or so for the ink to absorb into your blood. This made us really sad, but we understood. Last year on the 10th anniversary practically everyone in my family got the same tattoo that my brother had. Plus a ton of his friends have it too. Talk about a lasting legacy.

See this is who my brother was, he could see your soul by looking in your eyes. He had that way of showing that he cared without using any words. I know this because at the visitation and funeral we had people come who only met Andy once, but he made such an impact on them, that they wanted us to know about it. I would say that my brother was not deeply religious, he believed in God, and was involved in youth group stuff growing up. So I am not going to stand here and say he went to church every week and fed the homeless, but I do know that he had the same love God has for us. My brother just genuinely loved people, he loved their stories, he never judged anyone, and he did whatever he could to help you out, even if it meant he would go broke himself.

I miss my brother everyday, oh, I miss him terribly. I would love to know what he would say about certain things, or the advice he would give me. I know he would love Molly beyond words. I know life would be so different if he would have lived. I still ask God why. I still get upset and angry that Andy was taken from us far too young. But I also look at our situation as a way to keep living everyday to its fullest, not to get mad about dumb things, and to always show love and kindness to others.

My brother impacted more lives then I will ever know, who have you made an impact on?


Kari said...

Thank you so much for sharing your brother with us today. What a wonderful love you have for him. The idea of everyone getting the tatoos is really special.

Thanks again...
ps...the bangs weren't poofy. at least not if you compare my bangs in high school which were more like a cobra head :o)

Unknown said...

I only have a few memories of Andy. Most of my memories with your family are playing around with you. Probably the age thing there. I do remember at his funeral there were pictures and I remember looking at him and thinking that he didn't look like himself.

I'm glad you shared your brother with all your blog friends. And I am sending you (((hugs))) today because I know you miss him!

Verna said...

Thank you for sharing your brother with us.
It is always nice to have lovely memories of our brothers who are no longer here with us.

Blessings and Hugs coming your way.:)

Kristin said...


I am so sorry about your brother. Thank you for sharing his story with us. He sounds like a wonderful young man who blessed many lives.

I am lovin' the bangs, girl! Ha!!

Molly's Grandma said...

Michi, You continue to write so well. I'm glad you shared your memories of Andy. I love you and I am sending you lots and lots of hugs. Mom

Josie said...

Aw what a sweet post!

September said...

Andy's life left a lasting impression on many- from what I read today. I so appreciate you opening your heart for us to hear about this Memorial day. I can read your love for Him in each word.
Thanks for sharing Kate. You have a special testimony.

Veronica said...

Kate...I am at a loss for words. The post was a beautiful tribute to your brother! My grandfather on my Dad's side was someone that I loved deeply and passed when I when I was young. He also made such an impact on me and to this day I have never met anyone with such a kind and gentle spirit.

I'm glad that you have such good memories of your brother. For some, the passing of a loved one happens when you were so young that it's hard to even remember that much about them as you get older. My Hubby's dad died when he was 10. It was so rough for their family to grow up without a father, I can't even imagine how hard it must have been to for you to grow up without your brother. That is awesome that you are part of a scholarship in your brother's memory!

I wanted to tell you that I got your comment about coming to CA. Yay! Maybe you can tell me what part of CA you'll be coming to and when. I would love to meet up with you sometime if we find that it's doable. Feel free to email me at anytime if you don't want to leave it in my comments section.

Thanks so much for sharing this post today. It really touched my heart.

Mom Putnam said...

Kate-------How well I remember Andy. Always seemed so quiet but so sweet and nice to everyone. The funeral was hard, I remember crying that day and wondering why him. Something we will never know. Death is so hard for the ones left behind, it leaves a hole in the heart that can never be repaired, only healed with time and the loving fact we will see them again someday. Thinking of you all on this day. Much Love

Katrina said...

Like Holly, I don't remember much of Andy either. I remember him as a person, but to really know him I can't say I do. I'm so sorry you have to live your life without your brother. I surely wouldn't know what to do if I lost my only sister. I'm definately praying and thinking of you today and always.

Joyeful said...

Kate, I am so blessed to have read about your brother's life today. I can't imagine what you went through losing your only brother when you were just 14. In many ways, though, I am sure you are who you are today because of who your brother was.

I'm sending prayers up for you today as remembering is probably painful. I pray you feel His comforting arms around you.

Love you

Becca said...

Awe, Kate! Your brother seemed to be a wonderful person. I am almost in tears over here reading all the sweet things you had to say about him. Thanks for sharing Andy with us.

Phil said...


I doubt you will ever realize your impact upon me and this situation. Well aware of my possible brain surgery on the anniversary date with Andy was impossible for me to know what to say or do for Beth. I can tell you facing next week of 52 years YOU Kate, Eric and litttle MOlly along with some others have had and continue to have an impact upon me for my Faith and Walk with God for me and all. You are such a testimoney. Let me apologize ahead of time as between some medications, it bieng 5:30 and my spelling and grammar may not be 100%. As the next few days pass I will be passing the communication baton along to you also... I have come to love and respect you so very much, what a Woman of Faith you are.

April said...

Such nice memories of your brother to share, he seemed like a great older brother to have. That photo of you two when you were a baby is just so sweet. Being 14 years old and experiencing a loss as great as his would have been such a difficult thing. I can imagine that he would have made a wonderful uncle for Molly. Thank you for introducing me to your brother.

Unknown said...

My heart goes out to you. I've never lost a sibling. My kids have. They would understand. I watched them grieve the loss of Anna (Jared was 14). They were sad days. But God is capable to get us through even the most difficult times and I praise God that he heals our broken hearts.

Sounds like your brother was an amazing man. Thanks for sharing your story.


Zion said...

This had me in tears. Your words and memory of him are so beautiful. I lost my little brother when he was 7 and I was 9, it's a totally different type of loss, but it's like his tattoo, different, but the same. It's a testimony for sure.