Many perspectives, one image: reflecting on Andrew

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By Emma Esherick, Isabel Dubert, Selena Puente, Phil Cerroni, Taylor Posey, Bernadette Waterman-Ward, Nate Lowery, Greg Pimentel, Alex Hermes, Peter Bloch, Monica Dickson, Nick Klein and Daniel Carlson 

Arranged and edited by Sally Krutzig

 

 

 

 

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Andrew was well known on campus for his skills with a guitar. – Photo by Dan Sauer, www.dansauerphotography.com

 

“I should begin this by stating that I have a fairly misanthropic world view. I don’t have a great deal of faith in organized religion, marriage or human beings for that matter,” Nate Lowery wrote. “But Andrew was my beacon of light in what I see as a bleak and nasty world. The way he lived gave me hope for the human race.”

What was he like? What was he like? Trying to describe Andrew is like trying to describe a poem or painting. Or a piece of music. He was always the first one there and the last one to leave. He was loving, giving and he gave a damn. He was universally loved and he loved universally in return. Even though his intellect was superior to most, he never flaunted it. He employed the majority of his time considering lofty and mundane things, and it was not uncommon to hear him pontificating about poetry or the best Red Hot Chili Peppers song. Emma, Charlotte, music, philosophy, literature, beer, repeat.

“I remember after he and Emma got engaged, and Emma said to me, ‘Selena, sometimes I think there’s not a single person on this campus who doesn’t know Andrew,’” senior Selena Puente wrote.

Andrew always kept people on their toes. He knitted jokes out of his experiences, things he saw and heard and things he imagined and dreamed. He spoke often with his parents, and talked often of his brothers. You could always go to him for advice, which he always offered freely and which was on point more often than not.

“When Andrew asked me to be Charlotte’s godfather, I asked why, and he matter-of-factly replied because he had promised,” Phil Cerroni (class of 2012) wrote. “Upon further questioning, he revealed that only a few weeks into our freshman year we stopped beneath the Tower on our way back to Gregory Hall from Old Mill. He asked me for a cigarette, and I acquiesced only on the condition that he make me the godfather of his first child. Although my memory is hazy, I seem to remember we shared a very satisfying smoke.”

Andrew was from Maryland, and he graduated from the University of Dallas in 2012 with a major in English and a concentration in Italian. He graduated Summa Cum Laude and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He won the Italian departmental award, gained a very wide array of friends and participated in a range of activities, albeit with a very large sleep debt.

“I joined a reading group that Andrew was running on Monsignor Luigi Giussani’s books.  I learned perhaps more from Andrew than he ever had from me. I learned from his deep and sympathetic understanding of the way people need God and evidence it in all sorts of strange ways,” English professor Dr. Bernadette Waterman Ward wrote. “I believe that that group saved at least one soul. Perhaps more than one.”

Andrew could not pass a homeless person without stopping. He always kept a pack of water bottles in his car so that he could offer something to the homeless. He was a mega people-attractor. He was so intelligent and curious, and no matter how long one knew Andrew, one was constantly amazed by how on fire he was for the world and by his ardent love for Neutral Milk Hotel and Neil Young. He could recite whole scenes, different voices included, from the first season of “True Detective.”

Few people had a more genuine and deeply rooted love of learning than Andrew. He was as at ease studying Scripture in the living room as he was running around Old Mill, not as drunk as his friends, but abandoning himself to the same intoxicating lust for life nonetheless. His understanding of literature and poetry was encyclopedic, his grasp of linguistics enviable. He could talk for hours about everything from the band Minor Threat to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and he could probably do it in Spanish or Italian, too.

“One time he, Emma and I went to the UD pool and that crazy kid brought James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses.’ That was his idea of a poolside read,” Puente wrote.

Over the past month, not many people escaped his company without watching the trailer for “Jurassic World.” He loved animals, and would spend long hours in the woods trying to call coyotes to be his friends. Sometimes he would disappear for a few hours, and it would turn out that he had just found a scorpion or a turtle somewhere and had been watching it and forgotten the time.

“One day we were driving down Northgate in the spring when all the bluebonnets were in bloom, and all of a sudden we had driven off the road and over the sidewalk. I yelped and ask him what the heck he was doing and he became very sheepish and said, ‘I got distracted. I was looking at the flowers, and I guess I was trying to reach them,’” senior Emma Esherick, Andrew’s wife, wrote.

Wikipedia and Beer Advocate were his two favorite websites. If one had any interest at all, it was probably a shared interest, and Andrew could probably write a discourse on it. Andrew was not plagued by self-awareness. He liked to take his shirt off randomly, and expressed how well he knew someone by being progressively weirder around him. He just wanted everyone to feel comfortable.

“[Senior] year was all about Emma. I remember seeing them at daily Mass not long before their wedding. Emma was praying. Andrew was really trying to pray but he couldn’t keep his eyes off Emma,” Waterman Ward wrote.

Everyone who knew Andrew or saw him from a distance saw his profound love for his wife and daughter. Andrew lives on through Emma.

“I wish people could have seen them freshman year. There were so many nights that they would stay up late sipping espresso and talking late into the night in the Augustine [Hall] lounge, they must have covered everything under the moon,” Puente wrote. “I even remember being on the floor of Emma’s room in Augustine when she told me they were engaged. The two of them mix in my mind, and I’ll never forget how wide Andrew was smiling on his wedding day after they both said, ‘I do.’”

And then there was the baby. Throughout Andrew’s last year, just about every time anyone saw him he had that baby in a front pack — up at the English department, hanging out on the Mall, over by the chapel.

“Charlotte loved Andrew, and in fact preferred him to me, because he would take her for long walks. They both loved being outside,” Emma wrote. “Andrew probably spent half his life after Charlotte was born walking her around outside, or playing guitar and singing to her.”

From the day she was born, Charlotte and Andrew were almost inseparable. Friends would go over to hang out and he would be sitting on the couch with the radio on, teaching Charlotte how to clap along to Jimi Hendrix and Neutral Milk Hotel.

“I don’t know of anyone who ever first met him without his guitar on. So it was natural that we only wanted to hear songs, and only songs that reminded us of him,” Taylor Posey (class of 13) wrote. “The three days after his death were like a dream. Irving was still. Cottonwood seeds gently floated about. We all came together as suddenly as the news came, holed up in one or two Old Mill apartments. Before long, music is pouring out from the trenches (‘how the notes all bend and reach above the trees’). Lilting melodies, and resounding choruses, the tracks divided only by tears, embraces and fond fragments of liner notes. Thomas says, ‘He always liked this one.’ Then Dan takes the guitar. ‘He used to say that this was the last thing he wanted to hear before he died.’ And the guitar makes its way from balcony to balcony. And each of us thinking, ‘I can hear [his] voice as it’s rolling and ringing through me.’”

When one walked by their condo, it smelled and sounded just as every moment with Andrew did — full of cigarette smoke, laughter and the melody of his guitar floating through the air along with Charlotte’s laughter.

“I’ve not always held the University of Dallas in great respect,” Lowery wrote. “This past week has pulled a veil from my eyes…there is one great thing that this school has unintentionally created: a community of brothers and sisters that are tied together through more than intellectual camaraderie. A group whose bond goes beyond ‘class of 2013,14,15…’ It has created a family whose ties are as tight as blood, and whose love is not that of a trivial college relation, but that of kinship.”

Andrew once taped a Wallace Stevens quote to his bedroom door that read, “The great poem of the earth remains to be written.” Andrew used a flashlight to search for that poem inside an Etruscan tomb; he sought to divine its meaning, with his fellow students, through prayer and meditation; and he picked clues to its nature on his guitar strings and out of piles of cigarette ash in tenement apartments. Everything and every place, no matter how unorthodox or paradoxical, held for him some secret of creation’s beauty.

“This has been certainly for many of us the most difficult week that we have had to endure, for me the most difficult of my life. But I would say without a doubt that it has also been the most beautiful,” senior Isabel Dubert wrote. “I have witnessed more beauty, love and joy displayed in this community than anywhere else before.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story inaccurately credited the image with this article. The picture was taken by Dan Sauer.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you, all, for putting this together. I can imagine it was comforting, in a way; I cannot imagine it was easy by any means. You have created an astoundingly beautiful tribute to an individual with whom we were blessed to share our time at UD. Andrew was a sparkling example of how to really be a person, and I know through all who heard him and now through your reflections his inspiration will continue to change our world. Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you all!

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