We read in an ancient text:
A good person, though taken from us too soon
Will rest in peace,
For honor in old age does not
come from length of life.
Honor in old age does not
come from length of years.
Understanding is the gray
hair of humanity; a blameless life is ripeness of age.
Perfection in limited years is
like living for many years.
So a good person, though taken
from us too soon, will rest in peace.
Let us, then, with peace of mind, let that good soul rest.
I read somewhere recently—alas
I have misplaced the quotation and the source—that
in the twilight of our life we discover that the
hard part is not accepting who we are and who we
have become, but rather accepting who we might
have been and did not become, and making peace
with what we did not do and what did not happen.
This applies not only to ourselves, but to those
whom we love. So as we gather to say farewell and
bon voyage to Andrew who was taken from us so,
so much before his time that we mourn not only the
man we knew, but also the person he might have been.
And the hardest part of all is accepting that
sad and harsh reality while yet finding comfort
and hope in all that he accomplished in his all
too brief stay with us.
As you heard—and knew--he was a
remarkable person, blessed early on with a clear
sense of self and a clear sense of purpose. In a
world in which so many people transit youth and even
middle age while still searching for their calling
and purpose Andrew focused clearly on what he wanted.
He wanted to be an Annapolis graduate and a proud Marine,
and that is what he became and when he was knocked down and
fearfully wounded by his illness he fought back valiantly
and like the leader that he was he marched toward his goal
as long as his strength remained.
And, when his illness ambushed him a second
time he accepted the fact that this was not a battle he
could win. And it was here that he showed us a special form
of leadership rooted in courage and compassion. He had the
courage to face reality and –even as he hung on with all of
his dwindling strength--say fearlessly “I am dying!” while
at the same time reaching out to say farewell and try to
comfort everyone he could reach.
The enemies we confront are not always
other people or even the demons in our own souls. Illness
can be a relentless foe, as well, and can test the qualities
of our leadership and our love. Andrew fought with courage
until he could fight no more, and then faced his destiny with
dignity. Cancer took his body, but not his soul, sapped his
strength but never crushed his spirit. He was eminently
worthy of the uniform he so proudly wore.
So, even as we reflect sadly of the might-have-beens
we can thank God for the so much that was, and for the inspiration
he leaves behind. To his mom Anita, his dad Leonard, his sister
Rachel, his fiancé Anna—and the many, many friends and admirers
whose lives he touched—our condolences.
MAY HIS SOUL BE BOUND UP IN THE PROMISED BOND OF LIFE
ETERNAL AND MAY HE REST IN PEACE. AMEN