Bring your brokenness and I’ll bring mine.
I have always felt like music has the power to comfort and heal and a song by Francesca Battistelli titled, If We’re Honest, has been powerful these last few years.
Throughout my life I have found there is great tension between being completely vulnerable with life’s events yet trying to guard yourself from the judgements of others. Maybe it’s because I grew up in an alcoholic home, those secrets couldn’t easily be hidden when your dad’s name was in the legal section of the local paper next to the letters, DWI. Thankfully, through those painful experiences and a father that openly admitted he (and we) were all broken, now celebrates 25 years of recovery. But that didn’t come with hiding our pain, it was out there, and we had to own it. That pain has brought great purpose and wisdom throughout my 37 years of life, and for that I am grateful.
The lyrics that impact me most in the song are, bring your brokenness and I’ll bring mine. You see, the truth is, we all are broken. We just live in a world that stresses that we need to live as if our lives need to be captured with the perfect picture (and filter), our response needs to worthy of ‘likes’, all of our things needs to be shiny, and the path to success should be straight.
Well friends, it’s not. And if we strive for that, we have missed what truly is important in this life. This blog was created (almost 5 years ago) to share our journey and it brought vulnerability and healing when life brings about unexpected events.
So I’m bringing my brokenness and I invite you to bring yours. I do not wish this pain on anyone. Never. Ever. Ever. But we will speak truth into the darkness. We will not let this define anyone.
Last Saturday, we received a call that my brother-in-law, Andrew, was on life support in a Chicago hospital and not looking like he will survive. I was getting ready for a college roommate breakfast reunion when I saw Chris’ Jeep pull back into the driveway. Why wasn’t he at practice?
“My mom called me and told me that Andrew had been in an accident at the airport and was not expected to live.” A detective from the county had knocked on their front door at 8:30 am and asked them to sit down, going over the little details they knew at that time.
The airport? That doesn’t make sense. He had just flown into the airport Friday night and was excited to spend the weekend with some friends, along with visiting his former Stampede billet family, and attend a Chicago Blackhawks game. He was so excited for the weekend. Why was he at the airport in the early morning hours on Saturday? I don’t understand.
After frantically calling our babysitter and my parents to cover the kids, my in-laws, Chris and I drove the 6 excruciating hours to Chicago. It was the longest trip we had ever taken. The doctor greeted us along with his friends that were in complete shock of what happened and they helped replay everything that had occurred the evening before.
When Andrew and his buddy landed at the airport Friday evening, they grabbed something to eat, and walked around Wrigley Ville. His friends said that he was starting to act a little weird and they decided to go back to his friend’s place. We asked if he had been drinking, yet knowing he wasn’t a drinker, but at this point we were desperate for answers to how this could have happened. They told us he wasn’t drinking.
After they got to their friend’s apartment he started having what looked like a panic attack. They explained that they had never seen him like that before. While trying to get him to calm down, Andrew got up and said he had to go home, he had to get back to Minnesota. He grabbed his bag and headed out the door. One of his friends followed him a little after he walked out, and he was gone.
Andrew got on a train and took it to the Chicago O’Hare Airport. He purchased a ticket to depart at 7 am to come home. Instead of walking to the departure gate, he walked out the door to an overpass and climbed over the railing, turned around, and let go.
He let go. He fell 60 feet.
"We are deeply heartbroken to share of the loss of Andrew Carroll, an amazing brother, son, uncle, nephew, cousin, teammate, mentor, and friend who died tragically after a fall at the Chicago O’Hare Airport. We are deeply grieving but have the assurance that he is in the loving arms of Jesus because of his decision to accept Christ. At this difficult time, what also gives us comfort is that his life meant so much to so many people and he was able to give the gift of hope by donating his heart and organs so that others might have life. May his love for Jesus and others live through each of us. We are in the process of making arrangements for his celebration of life and hope you can join us as we honor Andrew." With love, the Carroll Family
So, let’s be honest.
Yes, I wrote he fell. That was the best way for me to describe it. Forgive me, I’m not good at communicating the most devastating news to ever share about an incredible man that was loved so deeply by his family and friends…and just about everyone that knew him. We were (and are) in complete shock and honestly still can't understand it all. A guy that devoted his life to ‘seeing’ people, getting to know them, and making them feel important and loved. Which is why this is so very hard. Never in our minds did we ever imagine that he would do this, and he would NEVER want us or anyone to experience so much pain.
Hindsight is always 20/20, replaying conversations. He was trying to figure out what car to buy, where he was going to live this summer, what he wanted to do full time, etc. Not something you take your life over. You can read more about who he was here...here...here…here…or ask anyone that called him family, friend, teammate, teacher, coach, classmate, roommate, and neighbor. Which confirms that all of us are in complete disbelief.
We sat in a room, the doctor and nurse, Andrew’s parents, my husband and I, and listened to the doctor say that it was only a matter of time before he would pass away. We walked into an ICU of 16 beds, most of which were filled with people waiting to die. And here we were watching a ventilator push breath into the chest of one of the strongest guys I know. I watched as my husband, kneeled on the floor, sobbing saying goodbye to his only brother. I listened to my in-laws cry out their love for their son and watched as they walked away with a small box that held the message that his organs would be a gift of hope to another. Never ever, ever, would I wish this experience on anyone and again never ever, would Andrew want us to be in so much pain.
My heart hurts for my kids. They won’t grow up with this amazing uncle that gave so much of himself to others. A role model, a leader, an encourager, another strong guy that loved Jesus. Luke went to school the next day after we told him that Uncle Andrew was in Heaven and not coming back. He never said anything to me that morning about his feelings but I could tell he wasn’t himself through the struggle it was to get him out the door. He told a friend that he was sad today because he wanted his Uncle Andrew to come skate in his backyard last night and he couldn’t because he was dead. Heartache. So much heartache. The week leading up to his death he was at our house every single night. He was Jack’s biggest fan and advocate, always was doing exercises with him to make him stronger. Jack's been working on his words and after they gave a tribute to Andrew at the UMD Bulldog hockey game, during the moment of silence, Jack whispered, "Andrew." My heart. Oh and Tay Tay, she had him wrapped around her finger and she melted him every single time. Our daily lives will never, ever be the same.
He loved Jesus and shared Him with others. He didn’t always do it in the most obvious ways, which might have been the most impactful. Because of his love, he made time for people, and showed up for them. Volunteering at Hockey Ministries International camp, in the backyard playing whiffle ball, at the school where he taught, at church in the kids’ programs, coaching and mentoring kids, in his bible study, and with his friends and family. You see, Andrew was everyone’s biggest fan. He would be late to everything (which drove me completely crazy), but it was because he was showing up at someone’s practice or game, play performance, stopping to get something thoughtful for the person he was meeting, or was sitting around a kitchen table asking questions about what was going on in their lives. He gave of his time to invest in people.
“Love ya! Ma Dad Chris Carissa Luker Jacko Tay Tay.”
That was the last text he sent, to Chris, around 3am Saturday morning. My heart breaks knowing he was alone. He was trying to make it back home. And out of an act of desperation, he is gone. The pain is so deep and brings intense sorrow. I so wish we would have known the pain he was experiencing, his brokenness that he was battling. As I stated earlier, we will not let this define him and are not ashamed. It has brought great light to mental illness which carries a stigma. It has compelled us to give to others so that we can help prevent others that might be struggling. Our family also choose to have Andrew's brain donated to research at Boston University for CTE, based on the amount of concussions and head trauma he experienced throughout his hockey career. If we can help someone else, we will do it. Chris was interviewed and you can see that here.
My prayer from the very beginning is that there would be purpose from this pain. That God would reveal how light can come from the darkness in the midst of this deep, deep pain. My prayer is that Andrew’s life can continue to impact others for His Kingdom. He is and will be faithful. We find great comfort in hearing the stories of how God used Andrew’s life to bring joy and life to others. We hope you can join us at his celebration of life memorial service on Friday, February 2nd, 2pm, at Eagle Brook Church in Blaine. A visitation will be on Thursday evening from 4-7pm (Friday at 1pm) at the same location. We will move to the Super Rink at the National Sports Center Welcome Center to continue the celebration and share stories about the amazing guy he was. Bring your brokenness, and we’ll bring ours.
As we were getting closer to the hospital in Chicago we looked down the street at all these beautiful homes, what most people covet and strive for in the world. And here we were just longing for another moment with Andrew. Because we realized it’s not the things that we need in this life, it’s who we need in this life.
Tell someone you love them, and really love them. Take the time to ask someone a question about their life, invest in them. What I wouldn’t give for him to sneak in the front door, leave his stinky shoes outside, take a nap on the floor next to our three wild kids, and strap his skates on and head to the backyard. Lord, we need you.
We were made for relationship; we were made to be in community. We were made to be in brokenness together. Because let’s be honest, we can do this, together.
We love and miss ya, AC, AC#20, Ace, Bubbs, ACtheKiiD.
Thank you for the prayers and amazing support we have received from so many of you. The peace comes in waves, yet the grief hits you and brings you back to where we belong, on our knees. Please continue to pray for us as we navigate life without him.
Be strong and courageous, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God goes with you, wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
If you are hurting, please tell someone, share your brokenness. Don't let go. There's help for you and you are so loved. Come to the altar, His arms are open wide.