Sarah McBride on losing her husband at age 24:
There are many lessons I take from his passing, but the biggest is that though we may feel invincible, we never know how much time we have left. Life is too short for outdated dogmas to impede our own pursuit of happiness. Despite growing up in a progressive family and with open-minded friends, the expectation from the outside world that we must live, love, and identify based on one fact at birth, kept Andrew inside of himself for too long.
In his early twenties he finally had the courage to be happy and complete. Getting cancer was not a choice. There was nothing that he could have done to avoid his ending. But our society's prejudice that kept him from being complete for most of his life is a choice. For Andrew, and for all the people who simply want to make the most of their lives, let us make the choice to stop the hate and to let love, light, and authenticity flourish.
And yet despite this tragic end, it's clear that Andy lived with more purpose and realness in 28 years than most find in 60 or 80 years. He loved and was loved. He befriended and mentored without regard for status or interest in gain. He gave others courage through the bravery he demonstrated; not just throughout his struggle with cancer over the last year, but also through the authenticity with which he lived his own life every day. Through his work, he helped open up health care to hundreds of thousands of LGBT Americans and spearheaded the national effort to ensure that transgender people can access the care they desperately need, but are too often denied.
Few, if any, have ever taught me as much as Andy did. He taught me about life, perseverance, compassion, optimism, fidelity, and passion. He was one of the most impressive people I've ever met, yet one of the humblest (it's amazing he could tolerate me). Even in his final weeks, he cried less about his own luck or plight, but about the things he would no longer be able to do for others. That was Andy.
So thank you for coming into my life, my bean. So many medical professionals said, given your state, you shouldn't have made it to the wedding. But you did. I don't know if you held on for me or for you. But, in the end, you gave me the best gift anyone could ever ask for. Thank you for sending me that first Facebook message in August of 2012 and thank you for marrying me one year ago. But most of all, thank you for being you.