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Life story
January 26, 1987
 

When a parent dies; you lose your past.  When a child dies; you lose your future!  Anonymous

 

A wife who loses a husband is called a widow.  A husband who loses a wife is called a widower.  A child who loses his parents is called an orphan.  But...there is no word for a parent who loses a child; that's how awful the loss is!  Neugeborne 1976

 

 

This space is with me all the time it seems.  Sometimes the big empty space is so real I can almost touch it.  I can almost see it.  It gets so bad sometimes that I can't see anything else.  Amolan 1983

July 16, 2005
 
August 7, 2006
 

August 8, 2006
 
August 30, 2006
 
How does one begin to pay tribute to such a special, loving young man? I can begin by telling you how special it was to have had you in our lives for over 15 years.  I never thought of you as a step-son and you knew that Andrew.  We talked often, we shared inner feelings and emotions and I loved that about you.  Young men rarely reveal the genuine side of who they are.  With you, it never mattered.  You were kind and loving and never ashamed to give a kiss, steal a hug or say "I love You."  That was simply the fellow that you always were and always will be!
I miss the week-ends when I barely had time to change clothes.  Amy cheered on Friday nights and we always attended her games, Kaitlyn played soccer on Sat mornings and you always had some activity.  You played them all and excelled at every sport, but when you found baseball, or it found you...it was love at first sight!  You would have been a pro Andrew and I knew it, I felt it and you were convinced yourself that one day, you'd "Own It." 
 
Sometimes it bothers me when people, not meaning to hurt me, indicate that they didn't realize that you weren't "really" my son.  If they only knew, if they could have received the beautiful mother's day cards that you bought for me, if they could have been there at 2:00AM when I was cleaning up vomit and stripping your linens @ the same time.  I never treated you any differently than I do the girls.  Always remember that you didn't grow "UNDER" my heart, but you did, and always will, grow "WITHIN" it! You are my bonus boy Andrew and I was so blessed to have had the opportunity to love you and to have been loved by you.  You will always have a place in my heart.  The void will never go away and I will not ever, let your memories die!
I love you buddy!
Debi (your bonus Mom)
August 31, 2006
 

                             The accident

It was 11:15PM when the phone rang.  Anytime the phone rings at that time of night, a parent begins to become anxious.  Andrew and his older sister, Amy, had both been in more than their share of car accidents, but with God watching over them, the injuries were always minor.  Somehow I knew, as I listened to my husband's voice begin to change, that this time, it was "more" than a fender bender.  He left immediately while Kaitlyn and I got dressed, contacted Amy and left for the hospital.  My husband (Andrew's Daddy), had called me and requested that I take a different route to the hospital.  Instead, I had to see for myself. 

 

Andrew's accident happened about one mile from our home.  It was dark but the flashing police lights, ambulance sirens and people everywhere gently prepared me for what had happened.  I could see what I "thought" was Andrew's Eagle Talon, but later I learned that it was actually one half of his car.  He hit another car while attempting to pass on the wrong side.  In addition, speed was involved.  He was ejected from the car and resusitation efforts began at the scene.

 

From July 12th until July 16th, 2005, Andrew's entire family from both sides, stood vigil @ his bedside.  Hundreds of friends came and simply stood at the foot of his bed in shock and denial that this could actually be their buddy.  I saw so many tears and helpless pleas that I still can't get them out of my mind. 

 

Andrew never woke up, his pupils were dilated and fixed and his breathing was controlled by a ventilator.  As the week progressed, I believe that we all began to question where we were going, where Andrew was and where he would be.  His neurologists informed us that he had suffered from several strokes on July 14th.  In addition, a portion of his skull had been removed as soon as he was taken to surgery following his accident.  Having been a respiratory therapist for many years, I think I knew in my heart that Andrew, as we knew him, was gone on to a better place.  The Mom side of me wanted something miraculous to happen, and I still do believe in miracles; it just wasn't to be for Andrew.  He died of blunt force trauma to his head, internal bleeding within his head and irreversible brain damage.  He was pronouned dead on July 16th, 2005 @ 11:00AM with his family at his side.

 

His organs were donated to eight recipients and for that, we are thankful.  We hope to meet them one day and have corresponded with the man who received Andrew's heart.

 

More than 500 people attended Andrew's visitation and memorial service.  His friends placed baseball gloves, letters, awards and various other items in the casket with Andrew.  I know that he felt them there and I know that he misses them as much as they miss him.

 

He is buried at LaFayette Memorial Park in Fayetteville NC.  He has his Grand-fathers there as well to look over him.  He will always be here, in our hearts and in our home.

 

His Dad purchased a beautiful curio cabinet the day after Andrew's funeral.  The light stays on at all times and within the glass shelves are pictures of Andrew as a little boy playing basebal, the last picture I took of him in our pool just days before his death, his baseball Jersey, his baby quilt that his paternal Grandmother made for him and so many things from the Donor association.  I look at it often, just to feel him close to me and to touch his face again.

 

We love you Andrew,

Dad, Deb, Amy and Kaitlyn

September 13, 2006
 

The pictures of Andrew's car are very difficult for our family to view.  For those of you with teenagers or young drivers, please, please share the photo of the remains of Andrew's car with them.   If understanding that speed and inexperience can result in the loss of a son, daughter, best friend etc, then the time was well spent.  It won't bring Andrew back, but perhaps it will save your child. Please refer to the photo gallery.  

 

Andrew, not one day passes without thoughts of you, missing your smile and trying to comprehend how such tragedy happens...every day.  Kisses and hugs to Heaven..Deb

September 15, 2006
 
September 15, 2006
 

     ANDREW GENE COLLINS

    January 27th, 1987-July 16th, 2005

September 15, 2006
 

Andrew, you are so loved and missed.  Rest in peace buddy; we'll see you again one day.

Deb

September 17, 2006
 
December 21, 2006
 

Hey buddy,

It's almost Christmas, our second without you.  This week has been a true reality check for me.  I suddenly miss everyone I've lost within the past few years and found myself thinking about calling my sister, Gayle.  She always knew what to say when I needed a shoulder to cry on or to help me make sense of things that never fit together correctly.  She's dead though and I can remember seeing you bite your lip @ her visitation.  She loved you, Amy and Kaitlyn as if you were her own.  And my Daddy always bought fruit, even if no one ate it, it HAD to be there in a huge bowl on the dining room table by Chrismtas Eve.   He loved to whistle and sing; his voice was beautiful, but he's dead too.  My first Christmas without my Daddy; wow, I never saw it coming yet that seems strange to me.  You're supposed to be here Andrew.  Your Dad has been so sick this week.  He was taken by ambulance to the hosp on Monday AM around 4:30 and his been in intensive care ever since.  (his diabetes again.)   My first visit to the ICU almost made me cry.  How many times did I walk through that same door when you were there?  How many times did I ring the buzzer and ask to see "Collins?"  Your Dad is in the room next to where you died and I accidently walked into that room yesterday.  It was such a strange experience, almost as if I wondered if any of this ever happened.  Your Dad knew it too, as did Kaitlyn, but somehow, we chose to speak very little of the "room next door."  Even a healthy heart can only take so much and it's Christmas as well.  I'm just taking one day at a time and some are better than others. 

You would have been so proud of Kaitlyn Andrew.  We left the hospital and drove over to the annual candle lighting event @ LaFayette Park.  Kaitlyn lit your candle and once again, I felt like I needed to sit down somewhere and cry. 

You will never be too far away from our hearts and souls Andrew.  You know how much you are missed and loved by so many people.  I want to meet the people that now live because of your organ donations.  As always, you remain our hero.

Merry Christmas Andrew!

Love you always and forever,

Deb and the family

February 2, 2007
 

Hey buddy,

 

I found this picture of you and Erica yesterday. I think this was taken when you were only 16 and she was the "older woman."  You adored her and apparently the feelings were mutual.  You would have made some lucky woman a handsome husband one day....that is, AFTER you became a pro baseball player!  You wanted children, at least four of them you once told me.  I know that you would have been so involved in their lives and they would have lived on a ball field of some sort. I know that you're still playing ball, only this time, not with the Tigers; you're on an Angel team and the best short stop they've got; I'm sure of it!

 

I don't know how to describe what I feel anymore Andrew.  I don't like the fact that people seem to just assume that I'm doing great emotionally.  Some of my closest friends have even told me that I'm the strongest person that they've ever met.  I guess they don't understand that some days are nearly impossible; I can't sleep, eat or think beyond the sight of your mangled car and your bandaged head. I want it to go away and bring you back.  I get angry at myself when I remember arguments we had over you coming home late, or not at all.  I know that every parent argues with their teenagers; now I realize that the emotions that I felt over those angry words, felt much better that not being able to talk to you or touch you at all! Now I know that each day is prescious and having had you as my son was truly a gift from God.  I look at Amy and Kaitlyn every day and thank God for my girls, the ones that no longer have their brother.  Amy is moving into a beautiful town home.  She copied so many pictures of you and framed them.  It warms my heart because I know she tries so hard to not think of you as being gone; it's been so hard on both of your sisters.

 

I went our to visit you yesterday while it was snowing.  I sat there and cried remembering one March day, when as usual, we were not expecting snow, and it came out of nowhere with a blast of freezing temperatures  and wind.  You were having a ball and Amy was mad because she knew that this would create a need for make-up school days.  (she's a summer bunny anyway!)  I was taking a video with that HUGE camcorder we used to have.  Kaitlyn was bundled up in a snow suit and she kept falling down and literally could not get back up.  You would run over to her, prop her up like a statue and run off again.  I need to find that video and convert it to a DVD.  Memories keep me going I guess.

 

I love you Andrew and not one day passes without my heart telling me that you're doing great up there in Heaven.  I just wish my heart would tell my sole because I've cried buckets over losing you.  You will always be my buddy...my special gift from God.

 

I love you Andrew!

Deb (your bonus Mom)

February 20, 2007
 

I found this today Andrew and it made me think of you with every ounce of love that one could imagine. The meaning behind these words absolutely leaves me silent and without expression.  Such beautiful words that have more meaning than you will ever know.  Hope you enjoy them.  I love you son, I miss you and my heart will always hold you close.

Deb

 

I said "God, it hurts so much!"
And God said, " I know."
I said, "God, I cry a lot."
And God said, "That is why I gave you friends."
I said, "God, I am so depressed."
And God said, "That is why I gave you loved ones."
I said,"God, MY loved one died."
And GOD SAID, "SO DID MINE."
I said "God, it is such a loss."
And God said, "I saw MINE nailed to a cross."
I said, "God, but your loved one lives."
And God said, "So does yours."
I said, "God, where are they now?"
And God said, "Mine is on my right and yours is in the light."
I said, "God, it hurts."
and God said, "I know."
 
Author unknown