For the past day, my wife and I have been walking around the house, bleary eyed, mourning for our friend, Officer Andrew Widman, who died earlier this morning after being shot responding to a domestic dispute in Ft. Myers, FL.
I met Andy on my first day of class at seminary in September 2001. I remember sitting down next to him—at that time he had long, hippy-like hair and I thought he looked like the type that knew his Latin.
In October 2001, my mom died after a long struggle with MS. It was Andy’s encouragement that ultimately kept me in school. I remember sitting in Andy’s kitchen talking things through. At the time, I wanted to run from school but he really grounded me. At least for me, a close relationship was forged on that day.
Over the next two and a half years, he would be my closest friend on campus. Only rarely did a day go by that we did not see or talk with each other. Both our families left school in 2003, and as a result our contact was less frequent, limited to the occasional phone call, email, and Christmas card. I still counted him as one of my very closest friends, the kind of person that will forever fill a spot in your life. I hope I get the opportunity to someday share with his kids just how special he was.
Andy was a huge film buff and had a sharp eye for up-and-coming actors and directors. I remember watching some of my favorite movies after getting his recommendations. He and I (along with our wives) probably watched 50 movies together during the years we lived close to each other. Now that I think back, I remember watching a lot of “cop movies” together, Heat, Die Hard (I think), and others. Andy hated The French Connection, a story of crooked cops. It seems appropriate now, perhaps a foreshadowing of the great police officer he would become later in life.
Andy introduced me to kimchi; countless books; The Lobster Trap (a local dive with free pool and cheap beer on Tuesdays); good Thai food; the game Axis & Allies. I could go on and on and on with the many happy memories that come to mind.
To me, he was the epitome of what a Christian should be. He had a deep love for all people and took his faith seriously. He let the Bible be what it was; he did not try to tame it or, though it may be convenient, fit it into a nice, tight theological system. He had a profound influence on my own faith.
O God of grace and glory, we remember before you this day our brother Andy. We thank you for giving him to Susanna, his family, and to us, his friends, to know and to love as a companion. In your boundless compassion, console us who mourn. Give us faith to see in death the gate of eternal life, so that in quiet confidence we may continue our course on earth, until, by your call, we are reunited with Andy; through Jesus Christ our Lord.