It's been six long years since your life was tragically cut short. Sometimes it seems the nightmare of 9/11 was just yesterday. Other times, it feels like a million lifetimes ago. I know I say that to you every year but, for some reason, the passing of time is hitting me harder this year.
I think it's because when I look in the mirror these days, I see a man in his late 30's with a wonderful wife and a lovely daughter. I see a man who has a serious job, a serious apartment, and a seriously large mortgage. And while these truly are the happiest days of my life, the job of life itself is much more serious now.
Yet, in my memory, you'll always be that beautiful, carefree, fun-loving, 30-year-old young man. The one who called all of us every morning to see what we were doing that night. The one whose voice could cheer me up whenever I was feeling down. The one who loved life more passionately than most anyone I've ever known.
Maybe the passing of time has helped heal some of the wounds of losing you at such a young age. Now, when I'm walking down the street and something reminds me of you, I can actually smile about it. Or I'll call Kyle up so we can laugh about it together. I guess that's progress. Ever since you passed away, whenever something reminded me of you, my eyes would well up with tears and my heart would get a little heavier.
I still miss you terribly, Andy, and I think about you all the time. Every year, I hope and pray that the pain of losing you lessens to some degree. I'm not sure whether that's true or not. All I know is that the pain never completely goes away. Life, for all of us, just isn't the same without you.
As for our crew of friends (whom you always lovingly referred to as "la famiglia"), life has taken all of us on different paths. As a group, we don't see each other nearly as much as we should. Maybe it's because we're all getting older and are busy with our own lives. But really, I think it's because you were always the glue that held us all together.
Most of the time, the only times we're ALL together is when a new child is born or it's someone's birthday. And although, during those occasions, we're often surrounded by other people, we always take a quiet moment to separate ourselves from the pack to honor your memory and grieve over how much we miss you. More than once, people have looked strangely at this group of 4-5 men hugging in a corner with tears in their eyes, raising a glass in your honor. You'll always be with us, Andy.
Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget. How could I ever forget all the great memories I have of you, Andy? It's impossible. I'll remember them as long as I live.
A wise man once told me that the best parts of a person's life consists of his friends and the memories that you forge together during a lifetime. That wise man was you, Andy. How prescient you were.
I miss you terribly, my friend. Every year on 9/11, I swear that I'm not going to cry, mourn or bury myself in a bottle of scotch. Unfortunately, ever year, I end up failing miserably. But this year, I think I'm finally ready to mourn you by celebrating the amazing love you had for life. I know that's what you would have wanted.
And more than anything, I just want you to know that I'm thinking about you. I always have and I always will.
Rest in peace, Andy.
Your friend Pierre