I accidentally introduced Andi and Michael.
I was a public relations intern at Air America Radio the summer of 2005, and had been warned that a Gawker journalist would be attending an event welcoming Jerry Springer to the network, intending to add unwanted snark to the company and cause.
So, when Michael arrived, I immediately fetched Andi, my blonde, sassy, fearless boss to watch him like a hawk.
She was more successful at this than planned. They began dating. They were on their way.
A few years later Andi was killed. And today, so was Michael.
I found out about Andi’s death flipping through a copy of Newsweek – her obit had appeared in respect to Michael’s then-position as the news outlet’s Baghdad correspondent.
I immediately called her closest friend, my other former boss. Shaking, crying, disbelief. Making the trip to Andi’s memorial at Rosa Mexicano, hysterically crying through my embarrassment as I tried to keep some sense of myself together to Michael, amidst a sea of journalists making their respects. Rosa Mexicano, where Andi and Michael had met so fortuitously two years before.
And then today.
The time that washed by after the call. Waiting in the most gruesome way possible for the news to break online. For the real to be.
The last time I spoke to Michael was when he, gracious to me, as he always was, offered some help for a writing piece.
The time before, I’d called him a media whore.
I’d chided him for some writing I’d disagreed with. I knew he’d hated the celebrefication of political figures, so I made him take a picture of me with one at a benefit, forcing him to partake in an effort he so loathed.
Andi once referred to me as the Chandra Levy of Air America. In a moment of total and complete unprofessional conduct, I’d disappeared from the office, exhausted from juggling work, school, and the entirely superficial stresses of adult life that I was not mature enough to handle accordingly. I fucked up. Months after the fact, she chided me for acting in such an unbelievably disrespectful way. She was entirely correct.
The next time I spoke her name, I was dropping a Newsweek into a puddle of choking tears. Calling Air America employees I hadn’t spoken to since my time at the office. Going to her memorial, knowing for the rest of my life she deserved better in a ‘mentee’ than me.
I’ve tried to make it up to her in the years since. Born for Broadway has, and will always be, produced in her memory. (Michael has donated every year.)
I’ve had my own Murphy Brown assistant moments—an array of twenty something production associates behaving as poorly as I once had. I tell them the story of Andi, the regret for how I had behaved so long ago. How our last conversation before she died was about how I needed to be better. That not everyone gets a second chance to correct such mistakes.
Michael died today. And, while entirely in denial that he is gone, I think about Andi.
She deserved so much more of life than her sudden, incomprehensible death.
And in that, they will always be together.