Today is the third anniversary of Andy Maute's death in that car accident.
I try not to think about that day and the weeks following that crash. I learned from it, I dealt with it, I moved on from it. He is the reason I will never EVER get in the passenger seat of the car of someone who has been drinking. He is the reason I will never even consider getting behind the wheel myself after I've had anything to drink.
I'd only known Andy a few months before he died. But in those three months, I spent a lot of time with him. His friends were my friends. The week before he died we had an epic night at his house with just six of us. We drank, jumped on his trampoline, and had a very awkward confrontation in his backyard with three Danville cops... maybe even the same three who were called to the scene of the accident when Andy wrapped his car around that tree. At the time that they came in to Andy's back yard on that Tuesday night they were doing everything in their power to keep from laughing at him. You don't want to know what he was wearing when he stood up to talk to them. They weren't laughing when they pulled him out of the car that night.
I found out about Andy's accident when Tyson called me three years ago today. I was in Colorado. I wasn't even at the party. But when she told me there was an accident, my first instinct was that I was worried that people got arrested. My second instinct was that I wanted to kill whoever was driving because they were so stupid! When I asked where Andy was.. was he okay? did the police have him in custody? .... all Ty said was "Rachel... Andy's dead."
I went through that entire summer unable to talk about him without breaking down. Sure, we sat around and talked about what a great guy he was. But if you looked around the table at everybody's faces, it was not a happy conversation. You could tell that people just wanted to run away from it all. Just get up and leave. None of us could.
I know that there were a lot of people who were closer to Andy than I was. I know it probably hurts them a thousand times more than it hurts me. But it still does hurt. I do miss him. He was an amazing guy. He was going to go to Boulder and be an amazing snowboarder. He didn't judge people and he knew how to have fun.
One day a few months ago, I was going through my phone and deleting numbers of people I didn't talk to anymore. Without thinking, I deleted his. The instant I did it, tears welled up in my eyes and my heart hurt. But I guess there comes a point when you have to let go.
Over the past three years I've come to terms with it all. When I get in to a conversation about drunk driving or loss, he always comes to my mind. I mention the accident, explain why I'm so against drinking and driving, then leave it at that. I don't think there needs to be much more explanation than that. I don't cry about it anymore. When I think about it, sure it hurts, but not nearly as bad as it did that whole summer... except days like today.
I hate to admit it, but when June 24 rolls around, I wake up in the morning without a second thought. I eat breakfast. I take a shower. I go on with my day. Until something stops me. And I look at the date. And I remember.
Today it was somebody's Facebook status that threw me into the memories and the pain. Who knows what it will be next year. All I know is that it sucks. It sucks for me. It sucks for Aaron, Tyson, Kelley, Jeff.. every single person who sat there in that church when they brought his coffin down the aisle. It sucks. And it hurts.
I can't hug Andy anymore. Nobody can. But I can remember how crazy he was and how much fun he used to have with every single thing that happened in his life. The few weeks before his death are testament to that. Anybody who was with him during those days know that Andy Maute went out with a bang.
I'm not going to sit here and pretend like I knew Andy super well. I'm not going to pretend like, if he could come back for three days, I'd be one of the people he would want to see. I know I didn't actually mean that much to him. But I had an amazing time during those few months that we were friends.
Andy Maute is the reason I lose so much respect for people who drink and drive. It's not about the ticket. It's not about the DUI. It's not about totaling the car. It's about what happens when the car hits a tree, or another car, or a person. If you want to look at it this way, Andy was lucky. He was lucky there wasn't another person in that car with him, and that he hit a tree instead of another car. Imagine how much worse it would be if he'd killed someone else and survived... instead of just himself.
Maybe that sounds a little harsh, but think about it, it's the truth. I hope that I'm not taken the wrong way and that I don't sound heartless. I miss Andy a lot. I'm not glad that he's gone. But I am glad that he is the only person who was physically harmed in his accident. If there is something worse than death... it could have been that.
I don't want to preach what is right and wrong. I just wanted to say what I was thinking. Every time June 24 rolls around, I'm gonna think about Andy. Every time the topic of driving under the influence of anything comes up, I'm gonna think about Andy. There is a part of my heart that goes out to his family and friends and anybody who knew him. We miss him a lot. The world would be a better place if he were here still.
RIP Andy Maute May 1989-June 2006