I’ve always associated suicide with alcoholism, so I haven’t always carried empathy to a “self-induced disease.” One day I got the worst call I could ever imagine, my nephew, known as “Happy Hernandez” took his own life. A young man full of life’s potential, a young man who already had so many accomplishments and successes, a young man surrounded by love. How could it be? Our worlds will never be the same and I now have a deeper understanding for those who suffer silently while wearing a smile on their face, every-single-day.
Andrew and I were always together at family functions and as he got older we started becoming interested in more of the same things. We began hiking and kayaking together and always took pictures as evidence of our adventures. He involved me in his relationship just like I was one of his friends and I got to get to know her as my assistant at work. They were my all time favorite couple and I absolutely loved taking their pictures. Yes, I am his Aunt, but I’ve always been his sister and best friend. We talked about everything, and I miss hearing about his plans and telling him about my dreams. I’m dreading the day I realize that our pictures don’t seem new to me. I’m dreading the day where I don’t look the same as those pictures that I post – when my face turns soft and wrinkled with laugh lines of memories that don’t have him in them. When his face remains as young and vibrant as the only memories I’ll ever have of him.
I was surprised to hear of the breakup because although he told me what seemed like everything, he never spoke badly about her, ever. The day I learned what happened was the day everyone learned on Facebook. He wrote the most bittersweet post about how he just wants her to be happy and coming from Andrew, he absolutely meant it. I was so proud of how collected he seemed and how mature he was handling it all. He will always have more wisdom than I could ever understand. It seemed like he lived one-hundred years in the past and the future at the same time and only wanted to be loved the same way that he loved – and he had so much love to give.
I don’t know where I went wrong
Or if I did
Like the good ol’ boy I am
I told her that I understand
But Lord knows that I won’t, long as I live Seems lately every time it rains it pours
I ain’t her Cowboy anymore –George Strait
This girl was the love of his life.
A month went by and we were worried about Andrew. I remember it clearly. We were sitting at DeGarmo watching Logan play soccer and keeping Chloe on the leash. We talked openly about the heartache I endured and the steps I took to learn how to love myself – apart from another. We talked openly about a lot of things… Andrew was the type that would rather listen than speak though. I think this is where I went wrong in retrospect. I thought that if I spoke about my vulnerability he would open up about his, but he said very little about his own feelings – aside from agreeing to what I was saying. Andrew knows everybody too. Before we left, he saw a few friends he went to school with and talked to them for awhile. He was walking Chloe at this point and I just remember hugging him and telling him that I loved him. If only I could turn back time, I would’ve spoke less and asked him to talk more instead of trying to fill the silence. I miss his voice so much.
Another month passed and we planned a camping trip to the coast at the end of July. It was our first time at the coast together and I was so excited. We played poker the whole drive over, we saw wildfire, we went on train rides, overall we had a fantastic weekend. But, Andrew also wasn’t himself. I thought maybe it’s because we were with a bunch of people he and Connor didn’t know and they were just being shy, but his heartache was consuming him. I wish there was something I could do.
Once we got back, he asked me to text her.
He asked me to ask her if there was ever a chance for them to get back together, so I did. I always did whatever he asked me to do. She said, “at this point no.” So I tell her, “If that’s what you truly believe you need to stop communicating with him because you’re leading him on.” She said, “I know and I will.” I then had to relay the news to Andrew. I told him that she said they wouldn’t be together and that happiness isn’t found looking back – naturally a quoted George Strait. I asked if he would be ok. He told me that he loved her and had dreams of being with her and how bad his heart was broken. I always made Mandi aware of anything I knew. We hated Andrew hurting so much.
So if you’re gonna break my heart, just break it
And if you’re gonna take your shot, then take it
If you made up your mind, then make it
Make this fast
If you ever loved me
– Brett Young
On September 29th, 2018, we lost the happiest person in the world to a broken heart. I’m mostly lost, confused, heartbroken and conflicted about this day. Our world changed in an instant. I couldn’t eat, I could barely breathe, I was pregnant and no one knew. I knew how much he loved her, and in my heart I thought in order to fully love Andrew, we had to love her too, but in my head I struggled – I still struggle.
He stopped loving her today
They placed a wreath upon his door
And soon they’ll carry him away
He stopped loving her today
– George Jones
Some of you might consider me crazy, but I try to put myself in those chains he wore. I try to imagine his heartache as if I could figure out this worlds cure for it. I can’t help it, I gravitate towards it. I imagine him lost and longing to be loved – by his soulmate. I imagine every country song tearing him up inside and reminding him of her. I imagine his stomach turning the day she posted a picture of her with someone else. In school we learn mathematics and English, at home we learn character and manners, but nowhere are we taught how to handle heartache. Everyone says time heals all wounds, no it just covers them up. It doesn’t go away, we just don’t give it as much attention.
So what do you got for this empty spot inside of me?
The deep dark hole where love used to be.
Before she ripped it out and ran into the arms of someone else.
Y’all sit in this room and you talk like you got some kind of remedy.
– Gary Allan
I know that there’s nothing I can do to change the past and I’m haunted by the adventures I thought we would share together. I thought he would be Quinn’s best friend, just as we were best friends. I thought I’d get to give a speech as his wedding that would embarrass him a little and make him cry (all while wearing my T-Rex costume, naturally). I still look for him smiling in his truck. I still look at my phone thinking I’d see, “What are you doing” which was the opening for any adventure we wanted to go on. My heart just wants him here so bad. I never imagined this to be his fate.
I hide from the reckoning
I hide from the truth
And I hide from the reckoning
Till I’m lying next to you
– Whiskey Myers
It’s been a year since he past and it feels like it’s been minutes. Tears still stream my face daily at the thought of My Andrew being gone. I still get special visits from him in my dreams. I still feel the same comfort when I think of his hugs. I still smile thinking of his smile. I still catch myself trying to text him or send him a snapchat picture of my food. I’m still eternally grateful for Andrew’s best friends who have adopted me as their aunt and friend.
And my heart is sinking like a setting sun,
Setting on the things I wish I’d done.
Oh the last goodbye’s the hardest one to say,
And this is where the cowboy rides away.
I wanted to say thank you to everyone who keeps his memory alive. My family and I absolutely love talking about him, even if we happen to cry. He was part of our life’s greatest joys and will go on being just that.
If you think a friend or family member is considering suicide, you might be afraid to bring up the subject. But talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life. 1-800-273-TALK (8255)