I did not know Andrew Corsini personally, but every day after class I stopped by the front desk at Froggy’s gym and chatted with his wife Missy. The week before the tragic motorcycle accident that took Andy’s life, Missy had told me she was feeling ‘antsy’. While the family had just moved into a new home, she was accustomed to a life of periodic relocation.
I had often seen Andy before my class behind the front desk with Missy as I rushed by to get to class, and knew just by his appearance that he was a man of service. Very fit, neatly groomed and always smartly dressed in black, his unmarked Dodge Charger with tinted windows parked outside, I had always assumed he was a detective of some sort.
It wasn’t until the funeral that I learned the extent of Andrew Corsini’s life of service. Born on a US Army base in Japan, Andrew’s life journey in public service started in Washington DC in 1984 after he received a degree in Criminal Justice and Communications. He held a variety of assignments in many locations from coast to coast and eventually ended up in the Keys. His most recent position was in Miami with the US Department of Immigration & Customs Enforcement, having been promoted last July to Deputy Special Agent in Charge.
I was deeply moved by the ceremony that included a light-hearted eulogy from Andy’s siblings, and a pictorial presentation of family memories with photos of Andy grinning over bales of illegal drugs that had been thwarted on their way to the US. It seemed sadly ironic that Andy had served a life of duty that often put him in harms way, only to have his life taken by one of his life’s passions.
Last Sunday evening, Andy and Missy were returning from a short weekend motorcycle trip to the west coast of Florida. In a moment of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, a car crossed the center line on US 41 and took Andy’s life. Missy was behind him and suffered minor injuries when Andy’s bike hit hers.
Missy sat in a wheelchair on the steps of the small church, surrounded by her children and the rest of Andy’s family, as hundreds of friends bore witness to the military tribute honoring his life of service. It was the first I had personally witnessed the Presentation of the Flags, the 10-7 Radio Call, Recession with Color Guard, the 21 Gun Salute, Taps and the mournful sound of bagpipes playing the Irish Blessing. I was deeply moved.
As I went through the rest of my day, preparing for the weekend and thinking of Missy and her family’s devastating loss, I kept thinking about the words that filled the back page of the funeral program:
The Dash Poem
by Linda Ellis
I read of a man who stood to speak, at the funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on this tombstone from beginning… to the end.
He noted that first came his date of birth and spoke the following with tears. But he said what mattered most of all, was the dash in between those years.
For the dash represents, all the time he spent alive on earth. And how only those who loved him know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own: the cars, the house, the cash, what matters most is how we live and love and how we spend our dash…
So think about this long and hard. Are there things you’d like to change? For you never know how much time is left, that can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough, to consider what is true and real. And always try to understand, the way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger, and show appreciation more, and love the people in our lives like we’ver never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect, and more often wear a smile…Remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.
So, when your eulogy is being read, with your life’s actions to rehash would you be proud of the things they say and how you spent your dash?
I am in awe of the many men and women who chose a life of such service and honor. And I have deep respect for the family that follows their loved ones from coast to coast, who worries and prays, but supports their spouse’s call of duty.
To Andrew C. Corsini, Jr, his wife Missy and the children left behind, I thank you for your service. And on this Memorial Day weekend, it has brought me to pause in appreciation for all the men and women who serve our country. For all whose dash is defined by a lifetime of service - to protect and defend the United States and the freedom of our democracy that we often take for granted – thank you and God Bless you all.
(In lieu of flowers, the family has set up a trust fund for the children. Donations may be made to the Andrew Corsini Education Trust Fund – please make all donations payable to Melissa Corsini, P.O. Box 300, Tavernier, FL 33070)