Earlier this week, a friend, fraternal brother, and greatly respected man died while bicycling across Taiwan. The outpouring of love, tribute, and sorrow has been both agonizing and beautiful to witness, and is a testament to the awesome impact that Andrew Kuebrick had on so many people. I've struggled to form words that would be adequate in expressing my emotions at the passing of a person who so obviously had the potential to indelibly affect the world in ways none of us could even imagine. The facebook tributes from friends and family have all encapsulated my emotions, though not quite embodied them. So instead of attempting to weakly piece together imperfect sentences on Andrew's greatness, I have decided to approach the event from a different perspective.
A Life Lived Equals a Thousand Lives Impacted
Two days ago, I casually scanned facebook on my phone as I wandered to the office copier to retrieve some unimportant documents. As I perused the cacophony of self-importance and indulgent drivel, I was stopped short in my stride as I read the following post,
"Andrew you were always around to put a smile on somebodies face man, I can not remember a time I saw you that you yourself were not smiling. The world has lost a great man and an even greater spirit. You will be greatly missed man, R.I.P!"
I was shocked. The only emotion I could harness was that of numb, dumbfounded shock. As I scrolled through the reactions that had already poured into the social network, the misery that was reflected washed over my brain as it tried desperately to comprehend the reality that was not there a moment before. Finally, able to comprehend the significance of all these posts, commemorating and coping, I searched for details of what had actually occurred. References to China, bikes, and teaching slowing painted a foggy image of where Andrew had been during his final months of existence. But primarily, the information found was reflective of time spent, beer shared, and laughter provided.
The details of this young mans death remain unclear, but in the days after that initial shock, a general morose haze settled in. I found it odd, as I was not incredibly close to Andrew. We shared the bond of fraternal interaction, as well as several extra-curricular activities on campus. Whenever in shared company, Andrew and I could talk, share a laugh and a beer, and walk away satisfied. But since commencement, we've not spoken. This is out of no malice, but simply the inevitable drifting apart that occurs as we age. As I periodically perused facebook over the days following his death, I was continually surprised by the seemingly distant attachments to this man. People from Monmouth who I did not realize knew Andrew, but also people I have met since graduating who I now consider close friends, all weighing in their memories, sharing their fondness for a man who's significance on this earth was deep and wide.
Ben, a recently made but fast friend, called me to discuss particulars for his upcoming wedding, then mentioned that he went to school with the Kuebrick family. When I called my former employer to inquire about 2011 tax information, Nathan, an old co-worker and friend, answered the phone. As we were chatting, I realized that he was from the same rural community as Andrew, so I mentioned it to him. It turns out that Nathan shared school, Boy Scouts, and sporting activities with Kuebrick. He mentioned that, while out with some friends the night before, a girl he'd just met through another acquaintance had known Andrew as well.
The connections that Andrew Kuebrick made in his short two dozen years on this earth will never truly be realized in their full scope. But anecdotally, it is clear that his impact was deep and positive. Even those who never had the pleasure of meeting the man realize that his legacy will always be one of compassion, honesty, passion, and love. For those qualities, among many others, I am truly honored to say that Andrew Kuebrick is my friend.