My name is Beth Shurtz. I have been friends with Andrea for my entire life.
Our friendship precedes kindergarten. We were in the church nursery together as babies. We went to elementary and high school together.
Our friendship has been a constant for me for the past 50 years. When Bill asked me to speak, I immediately said yes. This of course led to countless memories of who Andrea is to me.
Andrea loved candy, especially sour candy. Andrea loved babies. Andrea loved her mom and dad. She loved being physically active, whether it was bike riding, playing softball, cheering, or dancing. She loved getting in the car and going for drives. It didn’t matter where, she just loved to ride in the car. She loved dogs, so much so, that the past several years she worked for petcare.com as a dog walker/sitter; she even watched cats occasionally.
She had a thirst for knowledge. As a young girl, she could lose hours reading any of the World Book Encyclopedias on her parents’ bookshelf. Andrea loved laughing and funny stories. My own children would always ask, “Why do you and Andrea burst out laughing when you see one another?”
I never could quite explain why, except she loved to laugh and her joy was contagious.
Andrea loved singing. She was musically talented. She could sing anything in her smooth, rich, alto voice.
I was always jealous of her ability to hear any song at all and immediately be able to go over to the piano and play it by ear.
Andrea loved traveling, especially to Texas to visit her sisters and their families. She loved spending time with her brother Johnny in Chicago.
She enjoyed trips to the beach, the National Parks, and Hawaii with Bill and the kids.
She loved taking her dog Layla up to her Mom and Dad’s place in Kennerdell and watching Layla fetch sticks in the river.
Andrea loved her friends. She had a way of encouraging everyone she came in contact with, whether it was her friends from her neighborhood or her friends known only through their cancer support groups.
I would often say she was so young to have to suffer like this, and she always said she was one of the oldest in her support groups. She said she was blessed to have been healthy for so long. Her quiet strength inspired so many people every day.
Speaking of friends, Andrea had an especially dear group of friends whom I’ve never met but have known as the “Foo Friends” for several years. This group of women bonded over their mad love for the band the Foo Fighters.
Some of Andrea’s best times were spent at concerts all over the country with her Foo Friends. This wonderful group of ladies flew in from around the country the last weekend in February to be with Andrea.
Prior to their visit Andrea shared with me her concern that she wouldn’t be able to entertain them. I told her they weren’t coming to be entertained. Andrea said, “Yeah, they said they just want to come love on me and care for me.”
They even enjoyed margaritas at Emiliano’s. Andrea told me they had a blast.
As you can see, Andrea loved many people and things. But what she loved most were her husband Bill and their three beautiful children, Will, Drew, and Mara. Will, Drew, and Mara, you 3 were her proudest accomplishments.
She loved watching you boys play hockey. She was amazed at Mara’s dancing skills and enjoyed all the dance competitions. She was so happy Mara shared her talent for singing. Whatever activity you chose to pursue, she was your #1 fan. You were the reason she fought and battled for so long. All she wanted to know was that you would be fine.
Bill, you gave her such safety, security, and unconditional love that she knew her kids would be all right. A friend of mine mentioned that when a parent dies, even though their physical being is no longer present, the essence of who they are lives on in the lives of their children.
Every song, story, silly dog video, every ounce of love is your mother woven into the fabric of your being. She taught you well and you know her teachings. I’d like you to consider your relationship with your mother as ongoing, and I hope you continue to find her and lean on her as you face whatever is out there for you.
You will create your own loving legacies as you remember that you were taught by a mother who was not afraid to love. She will be with you always.
February 24th, I had the privilege of taking Andrea to her treatment. We spent the whole day together in that quiet, sacred silence between friends where no words are needed. She never complained. When the nurse asked her if she needed anything, Andrea said no. She asked the nurse if she would bring me something to drink.
That’s who Andrea was. Always looking out for those she loved. While she was getting her transfusion, I was watching the Kobe Bryant memorial.
Jimmy Kimmel was speaking and said he was trying to find something good to come out of such loss.
He said the only thing he could think of was gratitude. I think that can be said of Andrea as well. I am grateful for her strength, her courage, the grace and dignity with which she battled for herself and others.
When I dropped her off at home that Monday night, I told her I loved her, and that I’d call her later in the week. She told me she loved me too and to text her later.
Tuesday hospice came. I texted her Thursday. I’d like to share that text with you now:
"When I saw you Monday, you told me to text you later in the week. It’s later and here I am. I know you won't respond to this. I don’t expect you. I heard you’re all comfy now and at peace. I'm so glad you’re not suffering. I’m so sad to say goodbye. I will miss all of the effortless phone conversations. I will miss having the unconditional love while I complain about whatever. I will miss the endless inside jokes and memories that come from our 50-year friendship. I will think of you every day and thank God that our paths intertwined for so many years. Thank you for being such a dear, dear friend. I love you always.”