Memorial service honors Andrew Heard's life
To donate to a fund established for Bailey and Andrew's 2-year-old daughter, Ellie Grace Heard, go to youcaring.com
CUERO - Tears streamed down her face as Bailey Heard dabbed a soft Kleenex across her right cheek.
She was smiling, stroking her mother-in-law Mary Heard's arm, who was sitting next to her in the front left courtside row of the Cuero Junior High School gymnasium.
The women locked eyes for a moment, lightly giggling through the tears as they remembered the tenacity and bravery of their man, Andrew Heard.
Heard, Bailey's husband, died July 26 of stage 4 lung cancer. It was the second time in his 30-year-old life he battled terminal cancer.
"To see the finished product of the memorial, it was beyond anything I thought it could be," Bailey said. "It was special to hear (the Rev.) Eric Moore give the service because he did our wedding. It was special, and I thought he did a beautiful job."
Moore, who is also Heard's brother-in-law, managed to capture the essence of Cuero's beloved golden boy before an audience of more than 200 people.
Whether they knew him as Cuero Gobbler star quarterback, Baylor University seminarian, youth pastor, family member, friend or Facebook acquaintance, Heard knew how to touch lives - evidenced by the gymnasium's packed bleachers.
"He was incredibly passionate," said Moore, mentioning Heard's ability and desire to be a light in a world of darkness. "He would call all of you to live as the light. . He was one who believed it was not OK to sit back and let evil triumph."
Heard was diagnosed Sept. 11, 2012, with cancer and was given a 4 percent chance of survival. He was diagnosed 10 years earlier with stage 4 Hodgkin's Lymphoma and given a similar prognosis then.
He managed to beat cancer the first time, but when the Advocate spoke to Heard in December, he explained that his cells likely mutated from the first bought of cancer and developed into the cancerous tumors in his lungs.
"I don't want to die. I don't want my wife to be a widow at 28. I want to see my daughter grow up, and I don't want to know that my parents are grieving. But what if me dying helps the kingdom of God somehow?" said Heard in December. "If God is the great redeemer ... it will make sense in heaven."
Many at Saturday's memorial believe Heard is finally making sense of his earthly struggles in Heaven, including Heard's father, Dr. Mark Heard.
"Andrew's biggest hope was that a lot of people will be touched by his life and re-examine their faith. He wanted them to know that God has a plan for them, and we shouldn't dwell on our failures," his father said. "I think he wants us to enjoy life and relish the fact that God loved enough to die for us."
In Heard's final months, he spent his energy - which was often depleted by drugs and chemotherapy - spreading the word about God's love. He wanted others to know it was acceptable to have doubts and question God and that it was OK to ask God hard questions.
He penned his final nonfiction book, "A Gray Faith," in the final months of his life, published through Carpenters Son Publishing.
Bailey believes her husband's life touched others in ways he may never fully understand.
And she hopes to posthumously carry on Heard's model of love, strength and fearless faith, carrying out the Great Commission to any who will listen to Andrew's brave life journey.
"I plan to continue Andrew's legacy, and I'm open to wherever that takes me and (our daughter). He lived a life so well, and I want to live a life like he did - with no regrets," she said.
Heard's final wishes to be cremated were satisfied.
He also desired to have a Viking funeral, which was honored Saturday night at the Cuero Lake. A lit arrow was fired into a boat filled with lighter-fueled hay, and the boat was set ablaze. Fireworks were also set off in his honor.
"He saw it in the movie 'First Knight,' and he always thought that would be cool," Bailey giggled.
Heard is survived by Bailey, their 2-year-old daughter, Ellie Grace, parents Mary and Mark, sister Rene Moore and brother-in-law Eric Moore.
"Yes, I do believe he's in heaven; I really do," Bailey said. "I think he's on a wild adventure, and I think he's loving it."