It's hard to believe that it's been five years since you passed away. In many ways, it feels like several lifetimes ago. In other ways, the shadows of that horrible day are burned in my memory so strongly that I remember everything like it was just yesterday.
I remember in those dark days after 9/11 when I would call your voice mail just to hear your voice. For months, I would call and leave you messages. Tears would be rolling down my face as I spoke into an empty receiver telling you how much I missed you. Eventually, they disconnected the voice mail, Andy, but don't worry. I'll never forget your voice or the sound of your laugh. In many ways, they're like the soundtrack of my youth.
There's so much to tell you, my friend, that I don't even know where to begin. The Peanut is almost two now. Can you believe that, Andy? It's amazing to watch her grow older. She's a funny little kid with a ridiculously infectious laugh. Her goofiness and love of life remind me a lot of you. The two of you would have had so much fun together and I know "Uncle Andy" would have been one of her favorite people.
Although the "boys" don't see each other as often as we should, we all remain very close. Roy is still down in Miami with his family. I spoke to him last week and couldn't help but smile a little about the grief you used to give him about being a low-talker. Russell has his hands full with his little girl but he still lives like a rock-star banker. You'd love seeing The Doctor these days. He's traded in the leather pants for a plastic bib and a sippy cup. He's a proud papa of a little boy and, if God has any sense of humor, the kid is going to grow up and become a total jock. Of course, I see Kyle a lot. He's still happily single and having the time of his life. And are you ready for this? Shar got married this past year and Sherri is pregnant! Finally! The wedding was out in Arizona and was the perfect time for a reunion of "la famiglia." Needless to say, I spent a lot of the weekend getting drunk with your folks.
Like every special occasion we all celebrate together, Andy, you were deeply missed. You were there in spirit but I would have given anything to have had you there in the flesh and blood. After you passed away, we had these little brass pins made for us with your name on it. All the men in your family and all of your best friends received one. Whenever we celebrate a happy moment together, we wear the pins. Whether it's a wedding, the birth of a new child, or a small gathering, we wear the pins together as a way to make sure that you're still with us. Because you are always with us, Andy. And you always will be.
I miss you, Andy. I miss you terribly. The past few anniversaries of your death have been tough. But this year, I'm determined to not cry, mourn or bury myself in a bottle of scotch. I don't want to go to any memorial services. I don't want to hear about anyone else's losses. And I can't even look at the television. I just want to remember that terrible day by thinking about our friendship and what a truly amazing person you were. You were one of the best friends a man could ever have and although losing you was one of the worst things that's ever happened in my life, I'm grateful for the time that we did have together.
Rest in peace, Andy. I'll love you and miss you forever.
Your friend always,