I wish I could be at Andy Widman's funeral. He was a very dear friend to me in highschool. I'm so glad to hear how the city of Fort Meyers and especially the police department, is honoring Andy and stepping up to be there for his family. More than anything I just wish I could see his sister Abby (also a good friend from high school) and give her a hug. I really can't even imagine how crushed she must be. I wish I could hug and cry with Joe, his dad and Marty, his mom. A wonderful couple that encouraged me at countless cross country and track meets, as well as all the cheerleading events and just in life, in general. They were always a couple that knew how to love thier kids and how to even care for thier kid's friends, like me.
I found out last night that Andy was shot while serving as a police officer in Florida. I didn't realize he became an officer a little more than a year ago. His missionary funding didn't come through and so he was taking a more stable career path. I'm sure his relationship with the mission field wasn't over, it just seemed to be on hold. Andy and I both cared about missions and talked about it quite a bit.
He also loved reptiles and biology. I remember him thinking maybe Brazil would be a good place to do missions. I think he was drawn to it because of all the reptiles there in the jungles:) Adventure never really scared Andy, it was more invigorating to him. Andy's love for reptiles really had a-lot to do with his appreciation for living things. He was was kind and respectful of all little critters and creation in general, which I believe is very telling about a person. I remember when this guy in Andy's highschool class threw little crawdads from a near by creek up in the air and hit them with a bat. I was crying my eyes out and feeling shocked that someone was cold enough to do that. Most people would have thought I was over-reacting (I was and still am a bit sensitive to any form of cruelty) but Andy didn't make me feel dumb for crying so hard. He confronted his classmate, saved the rest of the crawdads and told me that he was going to make sure that didn't happen to the crawdads in the creek again.
I also remember him showing me his iguana. We had a brotherly/ sisterly friendship and we always went to highschool formals together because we knew it would just be fun and there would be no wierd romantic pressure. When he pulled his iguana out, it took a look at my brighly colored, delicious flower corsage and took a big bite out of it. We laughed so hard!
I've been out of touch with Andy for a little while but I knew that he was raising funds for missions. Last week I just thought of Andy and his wife out of the blue and was thinking how I wanted to give something toward his missionary efforts if he was still needing support. When I originally got the letter, my husband, Joel, was an MDiv Seminarian (like Andy once was) and the cash flow was tight. I was going to dig through old papers to find a support letter I got from him a few years ago. I just knew that whatever Andy was doing for God's kingdom would be solid, intelligent, and effective. He was someone I believed in and I wanted to support him and his family on the mission field. Then... such sad news.
Andy cared about little creatures and God's creation but Andy especially cared for others. His heart was big for people. He knew how to be a true friend. The effect that his friendship had on me was actually quite important through my highschool years. He taught me about acceptance and about not showing partiality, to love people as they are regardless of thier popularity, appearance, or complexity. I watched Andy listen to and provide real strength and support for many of his guy freinds. He had a way of helping his friends through hard times. Andy also showed me personally tremendous respect. When I think about how impressionable a girl can be in highschool and how important it is that they have guy friends that treat them with value and respect, I know Andy's friendship was a real gift to me in that way. How many guy friends from highschool can you actually say made you feel more valuable as a person? I think it's because Andy loved God, and wasn't self seeking. He was like a true brother.
Andy ran cross country with me and my brother, Aaron. I can't even count the number of times I yelled "GO ANDY"! I think Aaron's legs were three times as long as Andy's, but he knew how to give Aaron a run for the money. They had a neat comradery and would push eachother. He was determined. He had perseverance. I can still picture his hair flopping and that tired but determined cross country look. He had lots of energy and a light hearted, fun outlook on life. He knew what mattered in life, but he still had fun and laughed. Us cross country folk where a tight nit group led by our wonderful leader, friend, teacher, and coach: Mr. Rabb. I think cross country for all us was a valuable life-lesson sport. I can still hear Andy cheering me on too out on the grassy courses every Saturday morning each fall.
Andy was so kind to me. I remember when a group of us friends were together and just to be silly, we started drinking poppy seed dressing....ummmm yeah, we were a bunch of Christian kids who had to spice up life somehow:) Later we were all at the rec center in Bowling Green and the dressing wasn't settling so well with me. I tried to make it to the bathroom, but didn't. I threw up before reaching the toilet and got it all over me too. Andy didn't mock me or say I smelled or anything. He just made sure I was ok and took me home smelly and all.
I know I'm sharing highschool stories, but Andy made a hudge impression on me then. I know as he went off to Tocoa Falls he carried all the wonderful values he had with him and kept honing all his skills for God's kingdom. I remember when he met Susanna and how excited he was to literally find a soul mate that he would adventure into the future with. I knew Susanna was a trememdous person just by the fact that Andy picked her and that she loved God with all her heart. I was sad that I couldn't make it to the wedding. I was excited for him as he went to Seminary. It was so fitting for Andy.
I think of the kind of son Andy was, the good brother, the husband. I have no doubt he loved Susanna with every inch of his being and laid down his life for her, and I know without even seeing him first hand with his children that he was a hands on dad, an encourager. His dad is that way and I know he was passing that on to his kids. Every where Andy went, he built up those around him. He was the type of guy that really our world needs. He was an all too rare example for how men should be in this confused culture and age. His life is a tremendous loss in so many ways. I hope to meet his kids some day. I hope they will know the legacy thier dad had and will want to serve the Lord too. I hope they will sense what an incredible guy thier dad was and know how honorable he was.
So now I think I've been crying my eyes our for almost 24 hours. I still fell like I have so many more tears. It's just incredibly sad. I really love the Widman family. They will be in my constant thoughts. They are so dear. I'm so sad this happened to thier family.... well I just wanted to share about Andy. There is sooooo much more to share, but I'm glad to have this blog to share with others, especially since I won't be at the funeral tomorrow. Andy is someone that absolutely should be remembered. I will be remembering him for years and years to come!