Reflections on the Death of a Friend

By Dave Andrusko

Editor’s note. This first appeared in the July 2009, issue of National Right to Life News and is the latest in our year-long “Roe at 40” series where we bring you some of the best of NRL News stories going all the way back to the beginning in 1973! I think the contents of this story speak to everyone.

There is a website titled, “You already know this stuff,” which promises that if you read it you will “get fresh perspective on stuff you already know that will help you” [fill in the blank]. When you realize it’s the all-too-familiar “read this and you will get ahead in business” gambit, you “already know” that the hype will likely far surpass the payoff.

But the basic idea also applies to more important “stuff” than getting ahead in commerce and with more enduring impact. There are important truths that I already “know” but which I will receive an (often unwelcomed) refresher course in. Just such a reminder came crashing down on me last night.

I was driving on my way to a church committee meeting when my pastor called on my cell. He told me that hours before, while on a family vacation, the most beloved and respected man in our church had been struck by lightning and killed. For about 30 seconds I was speechless.

As chairman of the church committee it fell to me to tell people, one by one, of his death. Stunned would be so obvious as to sound almost trite, saddened a ridiculous understatement, shocked to tears only an approximation of how the passing of a man seen as an indestructible pillar of our congregation had affected us.

I write of this for many reasons, beginning as a tribute to the kind of people who, like Matt, really are the salt of the earth. These are the men and women without whose volunteer contributions so much of what makes life rich would be lost. People like you, for example.

I also write about his death because I remembered how moved I was each time Matt or his wife softly spoke of the loss of their first baby to a miscarriage. They really understand in a powerful way how fragile life is how real that baby was, and how much a part of a family a child can become without ever having been born.

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This is just an opinion, but I believe couples that have miscarried can be more in touch with a part of this debate over abortion than those who haven’t. And that is in no small measure because of the impact of a lost child on siblings.

Many is the time friends (or friends of friends) had told me of how their oldest child responded when he or she learned that their mother had unsuccessfully carried a baby prior to their birth. Such as, “You mean I had a brother?” or “I’m not the first?”

Finally, I write about my friend both because that is an essential part of how I deal with grief and because his unexpected death reminds me of something I “already know”–that we are not promised even one more day. That is why, I suppose, it seems as if almost everything that happens in my life somehow works its way into what I write about the fight we wager.

Like you, I know I don’t have forever. Like you, so much of my life is a real-time reminder that life is fragile and fleeting. Like you, these realities spur me to work even harder to bring about the day when unborn babies need not worry if they will see the light of day.

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