Editorial: Forest's gifts: A community mourns

June 15, 2011

The death of Forest Andrews affects us all.

The tragedy is one that takes something away from each of us, because he had the potential to touch the life of everyone he met, through his art, music, sense of humor, and spirituality.

A young man who died in a tragic, impulsive moment had plans to serve others.

How can a stranger to Forest Andrews, who had many friends, come to understand this bright light too soon extinguished?

Forest was preparing to travel abroad to work at making the world a little better, by serving victims of a terrible injustice still found in the world: the sexual slavery of children. This is a concern of many people in this community, and one Forest was willing to take action upon, as were his sister and other local youths.

They planned to leave June 22 for the two-week trip.

Forest and his sister, Ahnauna, wrote in a fundraising letter this month. "We will be with a team of 24, helping to build an orphanage for girls who are at high risk for being sold into the sex trade in Thailand. We will be working with an organization called Remember Nhu.

"We are so excited to have this chance to go to Thailand and help provide a safe place for these young girls. We are sure our lives will also be changed in the process; it is so easy to forget how privileged we are here at home. It is also easy to get caught up in our own lives and forget the struggles that many people have to deal with every day."

How can anyone understand the loss of Forest Andrews, anyone who has not gone through the trial of the death of a young loved one?

A family friend provides a glimpse, here and in our main story on page A1. The photo you see of Forest expresses his happy, giving nature, said his friend Jesse Larvick.

"We've been going through all the family photos in preparation for the service and it's therapeutic in a way; you go through them and every single one of them he's smiling," Larvick said.

"Time spent together" is proving the best possible therapy for friends and family who are dealing with the loss, he said.

"The house is consistently full of people, and that's the way they love it right now. There really aren't (any words to say); to me it's senseless," Larvick said of Forest's death. "None of it takes away the loss.

"In terms of what's being said to his friends, it's mainly just watching them band together, spending time in his bedroom," Larvick said. "His friends have been sleeping in his room. The kids are just being together; it's beautiful."

Larvick said Scripture is helping Mike and Erin Andrews, Forest's parents. Speaking as a close family friend, he admired the quality of their quiet grieving.

"Really, it's just spending time, enjoying his memory; definitely spiritually for us, his Dad has been clinging to the scripture of Jesus Christ, hanging on the cross next to a thief, and he tells him, 'I promise you today you'll be with me in paradise.' That's been comforting for the family.

"They are a sight to behold; they've been really great."

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