A Thousand Days of Pain, and a Thank you.
Last week it was a thousand days. One thousand days without my Andrew. One thousand days ago my life changed dramatically, tragically, and irreversible. 24,000 hours, 1,440,000 minutes. Every one of them painful, without my son. But you all know that already. You have read my posts, you have sat there and cried with me, you have held me up and supported me.
In hindsight, and in his memory, I also have to be thankful. And it is in this letter to Andrew that I have to thank him. Will he read it? Who knows. I am writing it for me, to my only son, and I am grateful that whatever I am writing here I have told him already during his short, amazing life.
It seems that with all my writing, all of my crying, all of my trying to keep moving along with my life, there is one thing I never did. I never did thank you for the twenty-one years of happiness and joy you gave your mother and me.
I am so grateful for the time that we did get to spend with you. We had twenty-one amazing years. I was there when you came into this world…a scattering of your mother’s red hair, gorgeous blue eyes, and tender soft skin. Your mom held you for the first time and we knew our lives had been forever changed. The dreams, the hopes, the future, they were all there for you. I stayed with you and Mom for a while – until they took you to clean you up, weigh you, and give you your first test/evaluation (yes at only ten minutes old and they were already evaluating you). Then I went to tell the others. I remember crying when I hugged Aunt Laurie and told her that I have a son – the first time I cried since I lost my father some twelve years before. Everyone was overjoyed – especially Poppy, who had his first grandson.
You would come to spend thousands of hours with Poppy and Grandma. They fawned over you, they held you most of the time, and proudly shared you with their friends. Grandma could not wait to kiss you and hug you and feed you every day, and you spent more time with Poppy in the garden than anywhere else. You learned to plant, grow and pick vegetables, and to make your own salad before most kids knew what chicken nuggets were. You sat on Poppy’s lap when he mowed the lawn, and when Nicole was there with you, he towed you around the property in a trailer he bought for the tractor – just so you two could be with him all the time. And no matter how wonderful of a day you had, your eyes lit up when Mommy and I came to pick you up, and Grandma had to relinquish her precious Andrew for the night.
I remember you going to pre-school. You had so many friends and the teachers loved you – obviously they loved you more than the other children in class because you were such a great child. How could they not? I watched as you graduated from one group to another over the course of a couple of years at Tutortime. Every day I would pick you up and just stand watching you from the window playing before you knew I was there. Then I would come inside and you would run over and hug me, and we went home to Mom. Elementary school was wonderful as well. We watched you learn to read, to write, and bring home those special gifts of art almost every day. You had birthday parties, play dates, and spent whatever free time you had with Greg and Todd. The three of you were inseparable over the summers.
Then Nicole came along. And as Grandma had fawned over you – you worshiped and protected your little sister. You held her, rocked her, and fed her. You shared your teddy bears and kissed her goodnight. You even insisted on bringing her to show-and-tell in first grade. The teacher said it was the first time a baby was brought in for show-and-tell. But you passed her around and showed everyone in your class your beautiful baby sister you were so proud to have.
I remember your birthday parties. You had a few at Leaping Lizards – where all your friends ran around and jumped into the pits full of foam, feasted on terrible pizza, and shared your ice cream cake. Then you graduated to ice skating parties. Then one day, all of a sudden, and to our dismay, you announced that you were too old for parties. But you still allowed us to take you and your friends out for pizza or ice cream to celebrate you birthday.
Apple picking was always a fun time. You and Nicole insisted on taking Greg and Todd with us. The four of you didn’t have to climb the trees or use the poles – you just stood on the roof of my truck and we drove under the trees and you all dropped the apples through the sunroof. I think it was way too much fun because we could never eat all of the bags of apples we bought. But we did finish the apple cider donuts, a lot of them, which came with the apple picking. I also remember taking days off over the summer when you guys were still young to take you to the Bronx Zoo, or the Brooklyn Aquarium, and spend the day at the beach. These little day trips eventually turned into our famous multi-day road trips. I had so much fun when the five of us, along with another friend or so, took our multi-day sleepover trips to all the great water parks in the area – one after another, for several days. We ate so much crap food, drank so much soda, stayed in so many hotels, and we were so exhausted at the end of each and every day – but were ready to go out the next day to the next park. Six Flags, Hershey Park, Dorney Park, and the list got bigger and longer each year. I was so upset when you guys outgrew that, but the four or five years we did it were the best trips of my life.
I could go on and on. This is barely a smattering of memories that I now cherish. Memories that I need to put into writing and to memorialize so that we can relive them and remember them as we get older. Memories that Nicole can recall as she grows up, and that she can share with her children one day about their Uncle Andrew – that they sadly will never meet. Memories that Uncle Roy can share with Andrea as she grows up, so she knows more about the great person she was named after.
So, I thank you, Andrew. Thank you for the thousands of happy memories, the tons of smiles you gave Mommy and me, and the love and adoration you poured onto your little sister. Thank you for making my life, for at least twenty one years, a better life. For teaching me things I would have never learned, and for being there when I needed you, and for letting me be here for when you needed me. You made me the person I am today.
I will live the rest of my life without you, in pain and despair over the loss of my son. But I have to also remember the good times that your life afforded us over those twenty one years we held you in our arms.
Thank you, Andrew.
Goodnight, my son.
We love you and miss you.