Our Story

1011077_10151650346315306_1070308382_nOur story begins in the fall of 2008. We were the best of friends for almost a year before dating and really couldn’t have been more different. He was in flight school training to be a commercial helicopter pilot. I was a web designer at the headquarters for a fashion company.

He was analytical, I was creative. He liked guns, flying, beer and war movies. I liked art, beauty, nature, writing… I was terrified of guns and hated war movies. But somehow all those differences formed a beautifully complimentary friendship… one with ease and trust and a mutual respect for and love of our differences. He would ask me out on a date every so often, but having been in an abusive relationship prior to this time in my life… I was still running. I always said no, time and time again, and he always replied with “if all we ever are is friends, that’s fine!” He was the first man to come into my life who just wanted to know me – my hopes, my dreams, my fears, my pain – without any agenda. The first person whom I’ve ever felt has truly seen me all the way down to my core.

In the summer of 2009, we took a trip down to the South Texas coast for a week together. I had more fun 24 hours of every one of those days than I’ve ever had with another soul. Skydiving, parasailing, tons of fried seafood, drinking beer in the bed of the truck at night on the beach, star gazing and talking about the universe… and having more laughs than you might think possible in a week. There was an ease about us… an effortless flow together and a deep trust, always a feeling that we were so content together even as friends that we were never in a rush to be more. That week is when I finally stopped running, and said yes to a real, official date.

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For the next 3 years we enjoyed the best love of our lives together. He worked on finishing flight school, I started getting more into photography on the side. We went skydiving and parasailing, we bought kayaks and started exploring local lakes and camping a ton. We went to all the local air shows in the summertime. We rode in an old B-52 bomber war plane for what ended up being our last Christmas together. He got me my first flying lesson flying a small Cessna plane for our anniversary one year… and his parent’s and I got him a race car experience package for his 27th birthday – I will never forget how big his smile was that day.

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He was my photo assistant for every photo shoot I did for 3 years… even if it meant waking up at 5am to be outside before the sun came up. He’s the one who bought me the camera too. He taught me how to shoot guns – erasing me fear of them. It’s something I still enjoy as a sport to this day (and might I add I’m a damn good shot thanks to him). He was an excellent teacher and had such a passion for learning and sharing his knowledge. He loved history and the physics of things – particularly aviation related.

I taught him about art, design and photography, and about seeing the world in new ways…about seeing beauty wherever you look. I encouraged him to write – as he was an excellent writer and one day wanted to write a fictional aviation story. He introduced me to dark beers – I can’t even imagine a time when I didn’t like those now. I was his first flight student – letting him practice his lesson plans each night with me while he worked toward his flight instruction certification. And of course.. he took me up for a few helicopter rides. These are by far some of the most special memories – watching him in his element – living his passion and sharing it with me. The war movies though… I never got on board there!

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We had our struggles too of course – no relationship is perfect. But those struggles helped us to learn HOW to struggle together, as a team. We learned how to love through the tough stuff – how to be upset with each other and still make sure the other knew they were loved. How to communicate our needs or our fears directly with each other so the other could acknowledge them with love. We supported each other’s dreams fearlessly and helped each other heal old wounds from the past. And above all, we were always, always gentle with each other’s hearts.

Drew passed away on June 12, 2012. He was at the pinnacle of his life – flying commercially and living his dreams. We were at the pinnacle of our life together – as I’d just picked out the ring and he was planning to propose to me when he came back from the 3 month work trip he was on… but we never made it. The helicopter crash happened, and took him and my whole life with it.

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It was as if I was too was plucked out of one dimension and thrown into a completely knew one – I felt like we both died. I still feel that way. Both of my parents are on the other side… and I honestly thought that I was safe from losing anyone else. But that is life you know, no guarantees.

By August, I quit my corporate job and left Dallas, the city we called home. I just felt like he was telling me not to be there anymore. His family took me in as their own – and we’ve been loving each other fearlessly ever since. With the love and support of his family, my family and our friends and with my art… I’m making it through. And to my utter surprise… with his help too. I’ve received signs and messages from him – coming at me from so many different avenues and levels. It has completely transformed my views of an afterlife and of the world we are in here on earth. I’m learning more and more each day that love never dies. You cannot make it go away and you cannot ever lose it.

As it turns out, Andrew and I spent right about 1000 days in togetherness. My goal here is to post our memories as well as the new journey for the next 1000 days. I hope that you enjoy seeing into the heart of our lives and our love as much as I enjoy sharing it with you. This is for you, Andrew.

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34 thoughts on “Our Story

  1. Wow, thank you so much for sharing your story. The similarities between your story and mine give me such hope that I too can survive this horrible loss. I lost my fiance, also named Andrew on 6/24/15 at the age of 31 (I’m 29) unexpectedly and have been on this relentless ride of grief every second since. I was particularly struck by your comments about receiving signs and messages from him. I have had the luxury of never really having to consider what happens after we die but since Andrew’s death I have been shown so many signs that he is still with me, that my entire belief system and understanding of the afterlife has been transformed and cemented. I will look forward to checking your blog regularly. From the bottom of my broken heart, thank you for sharing!

  2. Sarah, thank you for a most beautiful, inspiring, comforting, and healing blog. I lost my youngest son 5 months ago. I grieve for myself but the grief I feel for his widow and babies and his brother/best friend is the grief that has a stronghold on me. Others’ journeys act as a spring board for reflection and hope that there is a way back to moments of joy, peace and a new form of happiness. A healing that does come with a lot of pain and sorrow but necessary steps in the process. I will share your words of wisdom and know that they are helping others. Your Love Story is beautiful and achingly sad at the same time. A very deep loss for you yet a wonderful gift for the bereaved.

    • Thank you so very much for your words Diane. It truly means the world to me. I am so very sorry for the loss you all have endured, and my love is with all of you as you make your way through this messy journey ahead. Joy will come again – and he will ALWAYS be in the middle of it. For all time.

  3. Came across your story when i was searching for ways to celebrate 100o days with my SweetHeart. Your love to Drew is awesome and real inspirational to everyone. It made me a little sad today but today(22) is the date that i first spoke with my EVA(my angel) more than two years back. Wish i can love my angel how you love Drew. Even though we are not going well with each other she don’t know that i’m planning for our 1000 days.

  4. Came across your story when i was searching for ways to celebrate 1000 days with my SweetHeart. Your love to Drew is awesome and real inspirational to everyone. It made me a little sad today but today(22) is the date that i first spoke with my EVA(my angel) more than two years back. Wish i can love my angel how you love Drew. Even though we are not going well with each other she don’t know that i’m planning for our 1000 days.

    • Dear friend, Appreciate every day together – appreciation does wonders to improve things. I wish the best for you two, and thank you for taking the time to stop by and read my story. It means a lot to me. Much love

      • Hi Sarah,
        Thanks for replying. I love her and appreciate her every time, her anger, her sadness, the cute little things that she does once in a while. I was able to understand the things that i was doing wrong and corrected it. It improved me a lot and to learn new things of the personal life. Whatever i am today its because of her.

  5. Just heard about your bloc on Widows Voice. Lost my husband 9 months ago. Its just been h***. Just wanted to say hi and send a hug.

  6. I went through my ritual a few days ago. One I’ve been practicing for over a decade… Fall out of contact with my friend Andrew for a year or two, then contact him and either forgive or apologize… This time it was my turn to say sorry. So I Facebooked him… Nope. Gmail? Nope. Then a Google search led me here… And to an obituary. I’ll never get to make that apology. And it was surely owed this time… I wish I had known… I wish a lot of things right now. Sarah – I’m very sorry that you lost Andrew. He was a pretty amazing guy and he deserved the happiness he had finally found… Thank you for giving that to him. I wish you, and the Briell’s, all the best. I’ll always remember that little kiwi..

    • Kyle, thank you so much… I am so sorry you are finding out this way. There are still so many people he knew that I didn’t know how to contact – just last week another friend who’d been out of touch with him found out too and wrote to me. Thank you for your kind words and taking the time to write, it means a lot to me and I know he’s somewhere listening.

  7. My condolences and a most moving tribute. My husband and I lost our youngest Ari at age 19 in a skydiving accident, it was life-changing for his siblings, and my husband and I. It really took about 4 years for me to be able to move on. My husband Sam and I became even closer in our loss. Our remaining son and daughter changed in negative ways and I continue to see the loss effecting them. Suddenly, after sucessful surgery my beloved husband of 38 years, Sam died from complications of receving a wrong blood product. Almost exactly 10 years after losing our boy. Needless to say I was devistated. I was alone with my children 3,000 miles away and the rest of my family also far away. Finally, with the help of an old aquaitance, I was able to put my life back together, we fell in love and at the age of 60, I became a bride. I am convinced that my dead spouse arranged and approved of this relationship and gave his blessing.My current husband loves and adores me, as do I, him. My children and the grandchildren find him wonderful and charming. I am so grateful to my new husband, who taught me how to have fun again, to love and to find living a joy. I wish that as you heal, you will find the courage and strenght to forge a new and happy future for yourself. All the best.

    • I don’t think I ever thanked you for these beautiful and honest words that you shared with me… so I am thanking you now. I guess we can never know what life has in store for us, can we? I cannot imagine the pain of losing a child, but I am very close to my fiance’s mother and have had to watch her process too. We have cried in each other’s arms many times. I’m so very glad to hear you have found joy again and a beautiful new love. It helps to hear people say to me that they believe their late-spouses chose their new love… I fully believe that’s how it will happen one day. Slowly, in small steps and ways, I am finding my joy. And one day, I’ll get to share it with someone again.

      Thank you again for your beautiful comment!
      Love & Light

  8. I happened upon this when I was searching for a poem to read at my step-father’s memorial. He was a private jet pilot years ago but forever will be in his heart. “The Pilot” will be perfect. My hear goes out to you. Even though I am a complete stranger, I pray for your healing and peace. What amazing people you have in your life and what a great beginning to a promising future. With your talent and heart I know you will live a fulfilled life!

    • Melissa, thank you so much for your kind words and support to me, and for taking the time to write me. It means a lot. My heart is with you and your family in your loss – I’m so glad that you found the poem through me, and hope it provided something special to everyone who hears it… its a good one. As they say in the aviation world – pilots never die, they just buzz off. <3

  9. Never read something that touching before. Seems like words have been picked out of your reflection from the mirror you were staring at and just arranged to grab the heart.

  10. Pingback: It’s never too late: The Versatile Blogger Award « Musical Chairs

  11. I do not know you. Or him. And I came here from a little Kiwi on youtube that made me understanding how important – as important as life – it was to live our dreams. And I read your post under the video. And I came here.
    And, as I said, I do not know you, or him. But for sure, throughout all your words, your love, your honesty and memories that show to all of us the unique love that reunited you both, I can say this is one of the most beautiful story I had the privilege to read.
    I don’t know you. Or him. But you reminded me how strong we can be, and how important our dreams are.

    So thank you. You don’t know me. But your words changed me.

    • Marilyn, I don’t know if I ever thanked you for your kind words to me on my blog here… but I was looking back at old comments tonight and yours really warmed my heart. I just wanted to say thank you, so much, even still nearly a year later, your words help. =) Thank you, and i hope you’re living some dreams out there.

  12. Sarah – Courage and inspiration, energy and creativity…I only sat with you 3 times (I think) at Creative Jams, but those were the qualities that came across. The mere fact of your creating that group meetup spoke volumes about you. I see those qualities here, spurred (sadly) by your unspeakable loss. How courageous of you to share your feelings, how inspirational that courage is. I wish this terrible incident hadn’t happened to you, but am happy that you had the time with Drew that you had. It will remain a cornerstone for you… Keep writing. There’s a better story in your memories than most people ever put together in fiction.

    • Hi Sherri – I was just reading over some old comments on here and came across your words again. I don’t know that I ever thanked you, but I am now. Reading this again almost a year later is still fills me with comfort and love.
      Thank you! I hope things are well up in Dallas!

  13. I Miss you Drew, I know we had our differences, but im hurting, and still hurting.I miss all the times we had together, in New Iberia. You were always a better Pilot then me and alway will be. I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to say good bye. I’m smoking a cig and drinking a beer, looking up at the sky. One last Cheers Brother For Honor

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