A letter to Andrew’s son:
Yesterday was one of the hardest and worst days of my life. It was the unveiling of your father’s headstone.
Although I thought I was prepared for it, for it was just a piece of granite, I really was not. When I saw his name, Andrew J. Grosser, etched permanently in the stone, it really struck me hard. I was thinking that it was just a small religious rite that we all must endure some time in our lives, but usually for a parent or grandparent. But it was so much more than that.
The Rabbi talked about the ceremony of the unveiling of the stone, the meaning of the stone, the ceremony itself, and the Jewish prayers. But it was the personal side of the ceremony that I really heard and that touched me. He said the stone is not just a marker, not just a place to visit. It is really a monument to Andrew, what he lived for, the fact that he was here on this earth and that he touched so many lives. It will forever bare his name and be a monument to his time with us. There were fifty or so people there which is a lot for an unveiling. That was a testament to who he was, the lives he touched, and that his light will shine on for a long, long time.
The Rabbi did something that was also very interesting. He asked people to go around the gathering and say one or two words about your dad. Just something that they felt when thinking about him, how he touched their lives, something that they think about when they recall Andrew. The things that came out were very touching.
So we gathered there not to just unveil his headstone, but to pay tribute to him, to say we will always remember him, to make this a monument to who he was to us, versus just a stone with a name and the dates he was physically with us. It will be a place of peace and recollection for many to visit. Many of us walked to the stream behind the plot and looked into the water and listened to the peaceful flowing of the stream. It reminds me of the peace and tranquility of Boulder. I also know that is what your dad hears everyday – the gentle peaceful flowing sound of water.
At the bottom of the stone, the last line, the epitaph. One line, that’s it. One simple line to sum up a persons entire life. What can you say in one line that will be there forever, that everyone who passes by the stone will read and understand and appreciate. Andrew’s mom and I went through so many choices – too many to list here. Some were about Andrew’s love, some about how we will miss him for the rest of our lives, others about his short time on earth and all that he accomplished and experienced. But all that became moot when Nicole said she liked this:
“Your light will shine forever”
That sums it up for us. Your dad’s light will shine forever. Through his compassion, his love for others, the way he touched other people’s lives, through that light, he will always shine.
Andrew had a little blue bag of small stones he had bought during one of our recent trips to Yankee Candle. He picked each and every one out of a large box of stones. Each stone was carefully selected to be in his collection – he didn’t just fill the bag – he selected the stones one by one. He kept the bag in his night table. I talked to him about them some times. He said that he knows I collected and appreciate the polished stones and minerals and that he was going to give them to me one day, or use them to start his own collection. But that he did dump them on his bed some times at night and would look at them and appreciate them. Then put them away until the next time. But there is no next time.
I had that bag in my office since last August. And while I liked having it here to look at, to look through the stones, to know that each of them touched him, I decided it was time to share them with the world – much like his mother and I shared Andrew with this world, it was time to share his collection. At the funeral the Rabbi talked about the bag of stones, as I dumped them for the very last time, from the blue bag Andrew had them in into a large clear bag. I told the Rabbi I was going to pass the bag around the gathered group, and that everyone there should look into the bag and find a stone that touched them, much like each stone touched Andrew. And that they should take that stone out of the bag and make it their own. Keep it as a piece of Andrew, forever. Keep it in their hockey bag, or their pocketbook, keep it in their car, or on their desk. Somewhere special. Somewhere where they will see it or feel it once in a while and be reminded of why they have it. There are a few stones left. I am packing them back up back in the blue bag and will send the bag to you to have. Now, when you get older and look at it, you know about the bag of stones, where it came from, and the meaning behind it.
After the unveiling, our friends and family came back to our home. We spent the whole day and into the night talking about Andrew. What started out as one of the hardest and one of the saddest days of our lives ended very nicely surrounded by those who mean so much to us and those who have helped us survive this past year. We are so grateful to each and every one of them.