Published on: May 4, 2014
My life is on TV
Pam was recently talking about her life, and how it seems she is watching her life on TV – I can relate to this feeling so deeply. I think we all do to some degree, but with grieving parents it is somewhat different.
We sit here watching TV, we watch our lives, we see ourselves working, cooking, maybe playing golf or hockey. We look at the screen and see what’s going on. If we don’t like what we are doing, we change the channel, move on, take a nap. We watch how we interact with others, and how we grow and how our families change and evolve. As Pam says, her life is the main story on her own TV right now, as it is for all of us.
But then something happens. Something bad. The red crawl opens up – some emergency sounding tune plays. We get that red scroll along the bottom of the screen we are watching. An accident, tragedy at sea, an earthquake, hundreds dead, maybe thousands. And it catches our eye and we focus on it. We read the scroll, we concentrate on it and hope it would go faster so we can see more. We change channels in hopes of finding out more information, our focus has gone from TV to the emergency, from our lives on TV to the lives of others on the scroll. We are immersed with the news, it is, our only focus…..And in an hour or two, or a day or two, the scroll is gone. The news is over, we return to the main screen above, we return to our lives on TV.
And we wait for another scroll, we wait for something else to happen, we live our lives between the red scrolls, but knowing one is never too far away – unfortunately.
But then there are those of us who’s red scroll never goes away. The scroll of our children’s lives, the scroll of our tears and sorrow. The red scroll that is there that reminds us our children are gone. That scroll never ever goes away. Doug’s scroll is five years long – and has not gone away – it is immensely long and Pam never stops thinking about him. Andrew’s scroll is a mere eight months long, but always there.
Whenever we watch the TV of our lives, the red scroll is there. Sometimes it is where it should be, just a small portion of the TV screen. We are able to still have our lives above, and function and go out and enjoy our lives. We can manage when the scroll is where it belongs, we never forget, but we can live. Other times the scroll takes over the screen. It becomes the main story, it becomes CNN or MSNBC or FOX – it is all consuming, it is the entire TV. Anything and everything else in our lives is minimized while the red scroll becomes and encompasses the entire screen, while the memories or our children so overwhelm us that we have to deal with it over everything else. We cry, we mourn, we even visit their resting places, but we recover. Each and every time we do recover.
It does eventually return to the small red scroll at the bottom, but it never, no it never disappears. It is there for us to see and for us to remember what we have lost our entire lives. Sometimes the scroll lets us remember the good times, sometimes it tells us our children are okay now, that their pain is no longer. Sometimes it reminds us of family vacation, the good our children did in their lives, or let’s us watch them play sports again. And to tell you the truth, I don’t want it to disappear. I never want to be without that scroll, without the constant memory of Andrew, and I am sure Pam is happy the scroll is there as well.
When we awake in the morning, the scroll is there. When we retire for the night – we turn off the TV, we turn out the lights, we close our eyes, and the last thing we see before we sleep is the scroll of our children’s lives.
I never stop thinking about him
It is like the news crawl that runs at the bottom of the screen
While my life, the main story,
Plays on the TV above it.
Published on: May 16, 2014
For those who we just met
For those we, the grieving parents, have just met….
Although it has been a while, I am meeting new people now. I am seeing friends again, and meeting their friends. I am meeting new clients, and vendors, and seeing new faces at the clients I have had for years. I am seeing new people for the first time since my life changed.
Although it has been a while, we are meeting new people now. We are seeing our friends again, and meeting their friends We are meeting new clients, customers, patients, vendors, suppliers, and seeing new faces at their offices, and meeting new people at ours. We are seeing new people for the first time since our lives have changed.
It is sometimes hard to meet new people. They want to get to know you. What do you do? Where do you live? Is that your wife? and inevitably, no matter how much I try to avoid it, no matter how much I pray it does not come up…..Do you have children? The one question that just by thinking about it makes me tear. The one question that the answer is sure to not only ruin my day, but also those who ask it. You ask it innocently enough, you have the best of intentions of learning more about me, but you have no idea. The can of feelings, the jar of emotions, the Pandora’s box of hurt that you just opened. Opened so innocently.
It is sometimes hard for us to meet new people. They want to get to know us. What do you do? Where do you live? Is that your husband or wife? and inevitably, no matter how much we try to avoid it, no matter how much we pray it does not come up….Do you have children? The one question that just by thinking about it makes us tear. The one question that the answer is sure to not only ruin our day, but also those who ask it. You ask it innocently enough, you have the best of intentions of learning more about us, but you have no idea. The can of feelings, the jar of emotions, the Pandora’s box of hurt that you just opened. Opened so innocently.
But it is okay. I need to deal with it, and I need to meet new people and function. Please ask about my daughter, and my son. Please ask about Nicole, as well as Andrew. I may tear up, I may cry, I might even make you feel uncomfortable. But this is who I am now. I want you to be a part of my life, I want you to be a colleague, I want you to be a friend. And if I cry it is not because you said something, or asked me something – it is because I miss my son so much. Don’t be afraid to talk to me and mention him for fear that you will remind me of my loss and that will upset me. You can never remind me of something that is constantly and continuously on my mind. I also cry when I talk about my daughter, for I love her so much, she means so much to me; and I am so proud of her that I tear up over her as well. That is who I am now.
But it is okay. We need to deal with it, and we need to meet new people and function. Please ask about our children, the one’s who are still with us, as well as the one’s we have lost. Please ask about them, we love to and need to talk about them. We may tear up, we may cry, we might even make you feel uncomfortable. But this is who we are now. We want you to be a part of our lives, we want you to be a colleague, we want you to be a friend. And if we cry it is not because you said something, or asked us something – it is because we miss our lost children so much. Don’t be afraid to talk to us and mention our sons and daughters for fear that you will remind us of our loss and that will upset us. You can never remind us of something that is constantly and continuously on our minds. We not only cry for our lost children, but we also cry when we talk about the children who are still in our arms, for we love them so much, they mean so much to us; and we are so proud of them, that we tear up over them as well. That is who we are now.
Please, be my friend. Yes, I am a grieving parent, and at times I show it. Most times I am able to control my emotions and function well. It has been only a short time and as time goes on, I am learning to interact with others better, and to meet new people and talk without long breaks to compose myself. If I walk out of the room, it is not you, but it is I that just needs to get a breath of fresh air, I need to look up at the sky, I need to be alone with Andrew for a moment. When I return and you feel like hugging and reassuring me, that is fine. It happened to me just this morning, and it felt truly fulfilling and genuine.
Please, be our friend. Yes, we are grieving parents, and at times we show it. Most times we am able to control our emotions and function well. It has been only a short time for some of us, and others have had years to grieve, and as time goes on, we are learning to interact with others better, and to meet new people and talk without taking long breaks to get our composure back. If we walk out of the room, it is not you, but we just need to get a breath of fresh air, we need to look up at the sky, we need to be alone with our children for a moment. When we return and you feel like hugging and reassuring us that is fine, and it is really appreciated. It happened to us all the time, and it feels truly fulfilling and genuine.
It will probably be one of the harder things you can do in your life, but it will also be one of the most rewarding.
It will probably be one of the harder things you can do in your life, but it will also be one of the most rewarding.
Published on: May 25, 2014
Planting for Spring
What a temporary beautiful life they lead.
While Dorothy and I planted our spring flowers, we were talking about how short lived the beauty they give us is. We knew that the dozens of plants we planted over the weekend would take root, blossom, grow, spread out a little, give off their beauty for people to enjoy, enhance the beauty and enjoyment of our home, and then wither and die in late fall – all in a matter of months. But the beauty they provided during the time they are alive is well worth the effort of planting them, weeding, watering, and pruning. All the time knowing that they are doomed during the cold weather, and the cycle of planting and withering is to be repeated next year, and the year after that and so on. But this is what you expect.
But this year was different. Usually Dorothy plants with the kids and her mom. I generally like to watch from the deck, iced tea in hand. And it is hard work. There is no one to refill my iced tea so I have to keep getting up from my lounge chair and going inside to refill it myself while my family relaxes and enjoys bonding with each other and bonding with mother earth. But this year we did it alone – Dorothy and I. It was very nice, we talked about what flowers Andrew liked, what flowers Nicole enjoys; and how this summer will be different – so different than any other summer before.
It is just the three of us now. Andrew should have come home a couple of weeks ago. He should have graduated with all of his friends. We should have been proud parents watching him walking down the aisle with that amazing smile that he had on when he graduated high school. Pictures, dinners, hand shakes, and happiness. He should be going to parties and headed off for some well earned vacation with his friends. But none of that is happening. He should have called Dorothy for mother’s day, we should have be happily packing him up to come home to start the next chapter of his life.
But our plant is gone. The plant that we nourished, cared for, loved, and encouraged has been ripped from our hearts and our lives. When we plant annuals, we know they will die, we know they have a short life span – that is what we sign up for when we get them. But when we plant our perennials, we expect them to live, and to blossom and grow year after year – just like our children. And when that does not happen it is devastating.
Last summer, Andrew and i purchased a fire pit and set it up on the deck. As I mentioned in earlier posts Andrew and I had many fires there over this past summer. We talked for hours at night about school, about life, about hockey, about almost everything. It was the most amazing summer I had with my son in a long time. College really turned him into a mensch, and a person who I could talk to so much easier. He knew our time together was limited and he would soon be going back to Boulder, so he opened up much more this past summer. He told me about his school teachers in the Psych department that he respected so much, how they were published and how he read their articles and stories and learned from them – and most of all admired them. He found a goal and purpose in life and he was beaming with excitement to be able to graduate and become a therapist and help other people who had anxiety issues. He was such a different person than who left leave our home three years ago and go to college.
The fire pit is still there, and will always be there. It is known as Andrew’s fire pit. The two chairs Andrew and I sat on last summer are still there, facing each other, almost always empty. I bought several planters and planted different colored Marigolds next to the pit, it is Andrew’s garden. The Marigolds where Andrew’s favorite flower. I never planted flowers before, but I needed to this year, and probably for many years to come. I needed to do something for my son.
I sit there now, alone, looking at the flowers and the empty chair, recalling what we talked about. It brings a smile to my face knowing how happy he was, and a tear to my eye knowing none of those dreams will ever be fulfilled. How he found his place in life finally, and how he was excited to have such a strong direction in life. I sit and look at the flowers, and I know they will all be dead in a few months. No matter how much I nourish them, no matter how much I care for them and no matter what I do, they will be gone in a few months. It is such a vicious, heart wrenching cycle.
Published on: Jun 1, 2014
We went to church at Nicole’s school a few weeks ago around Easter and while it was very enjoyable and moving, what the priest talked about struck me. He talked about Easter and the resurrection, and focused on death and dying and grieving. The priest began his sermon off by saying to a young man in the first row (who did not actually lose a family member), “Congratulations on your mother’s death.” He said it in almost a happy jovial manner. It really struck us all. He elaborated on it and said that “she is in a better place”, she is with the Holy One, she is sitting next to Jesus, in a very peaceful and heavenly place. “You should be happy where she is.” He went on to give a very nice sermon about faith in the afterlife, about the meaning of Easter and the resurrection, and about grieving. What he said was very interesting and we all listened attentively.
I watched the others who were in church with us that day. They nodded their heads in agreement. They smiled and listened attentively. They really were engaged. I could tell from the looks on their faces, the gleam in their eyes, the nodding of their heads that they found peace in what was being said, and they truly believed.
Now, the fact that I am Jewish, I did not understand some of what he said, and some of it was outside of my faith and my belief system. But nevertheless I found comfort in it. Not as much in the exact words he was saying, but in the belief and faith from the others in the church. I know I wrote about this before, and what he said really hit home. He talked about faith and belief and what keeps up spiritually on the right track.
I go to temple every Friday night to say Kaddish for Andrew. Not because I have to, but because I need to. I really need to. I need to be in a religious place, I need to be around other believers, I need to look at the stained glass, look at the arc containing the Torahs, read out of the prayer book, and hear what the rabbi has to talk about. I need to listen to others doven, and be engulfed in their belief. And I know Andrew is there, along with my father. Not because I see them, or hear them, but because I believe they are there with me when I pray. And I need to feel that to be at peace.
When people talk to me about Andrew and they tell me he is with Jesus, or the Heavenly Father, or with someone specific in Heaven, I smile. I might not agree with them on a religious basis, but when someone believes what they say, and they say it with true feeling and with honorable intent, then what they say is genuine and good; regardless of what the religion is that the words come from. And that brings me peace and happiness.
You have to have faith in something. You have to believe in something. Hey, we may all be wrong. There might be a fat guy up there named Chuck who is running the show and laughing his ass off right now how wrong we all are. But that does not matter. When we are here, we have faith that there is something there on the other side, and it is that faith that gets us through trying times, hard times, and motivates us through our lives. It is this faith that we fall back on when we need it, it is this faith that makes us take the next step when our feet just won’t move. And it is this faith that we embrace when we celebrate something.
Do you believe in heaven? Do you believe in something on the other side? Is there actually something there, or loved ones who will meet us when we cross over? Does Saint Peter guard the pearly gates or are we written into the book of life at Yom Kippour? I don’t know, I don’t think anyone really knows. But we all believe there is something – and that is called faith.
I don’t know where Andrew is, or his soul, or what he is now, or who he is. But I know he is at peace and he is happy. And that lets me put one foot in front of the other every day.
Published on: Jun 7, 2014
I see you everyday.
Often I am right next to you, in the same room with you watching what you are doing. I am so close I can feel your breath, I can see into your eyes. I am there and I watch you work for hours. I am next to your bed at night protecting you, and I watch Nicole at night and make sure she is safe. I travel around and watch over Greg and Todd, and Katie, and Wally and Matt. I was so proud of Katie and Todd at their graduations – I was sorry they could not see me, but I walked down the aisle with them and stood behind them with my hand on their shoulders when they received their diplomas. I was standing there so proud when Nicole dressed in her college jersey for the first time and stepped on the ice and in the net the first time. She could not see me, but I know she knew I was there cheering her on like so many other times. I stand outside Mommy’s office every day at work and see how hard she works and admire how smart she is and how much she has accomplished – I should have told her this more when she could hear me.
I miss everyone so much – as much as you miss me. But I try to say hello once in a while. I will play with your GPS, or the lights, or move your computer screen around when I can – I am still learning how to do that so be patient with me. When I get lucky I come visit you in your dreams, like before Nicole’s games or on Mother’s Day. I might blow out a candle one day, or come to you as a butterfly. I try to communicate in so many ways, but you can always sense me near you. You can’t see me, but you can feel me, you can feel my love, you can feel my compassion – and that is all that I am now.
I am trying to help Jovi. I know how lost she is and how she feels so alone. She knows how much I loved her and how much she loved me. I appreciate all that Dad is doing to help her, and hopefully she will find someone to love one day and live a long happy life. I look down at my left hand and see the wedding bands we got each other and it reminds me of her love. It reminds me of our unconditional love for each other. Thank you for giving me that to have with me forever.
There is so much love now around me, all the people I knew before. All the people I missed so much and I cried over – Poppy and Uncle Cy and Aunt Flo and Uncle Herb, and so many more. There are also those I never met before but I knew so much about – like Grandpa Gary. They talk to me all the time and tell me how wonderful of a life they had, and how blessed I was to have had such a full life. Although it only lasted a short time, it was amazingly full or love, experiences and challenges. As Daddy has said so many times since I left you – I lived more in my twenty-one years than most people live in a lifetime. When I do relax here, I lay my head on Daisy, and cuddle with Louie and Punky. Daisy runs around pain free, she has no arthritis here, and jumps up and down with excitement. She is like a puppy all the time.
I see Daddy in his office every day, and I cry along with him. We had so many plans together, there were so many hopes and dreams that will never be fulfilled. There were so many things Dad was looking to pass along to me – his father’s cuff links, his tallis, pictures, stories, and so much more. Now they are in the house with no clear future. I know he will find someone that will take these items one day and keep them as precious and as valuable as he has kept them for years, and as I would have kept them. It might take time but I am sure they will find a home. I know he can’t go skiing anymore or scuba diving or surfing – those were our activities – our bonding time. But maybe one day he can carry on and go with Nicole and Mommy, or Greg and Todd. Hopefully one day he will realize I will be there beside him when he does, not in the doorway blocking him from these things we used to do together.
I miss being called Thor, or Boo Boo, or even Andrew. I miss that so much. I miss being hugged and feeling the love. I miss Mommy running up to me and hugging me every morning like she had not seen me for months. I miss the smile on her face. I miss her happiness.
I am also at peace. Like I was when I was a little boy. I have no anxiety, I have no stress, I have no ADD or OCD or anything else, and my kidneys don’t hurt me at all. They don’t even know what that is here. Uncle Cy and Aunt Flo play golf and they can swing their clubs painlessly, Poppy tends to a garden that never dies and is always watered. He can kneel without pain and work all day, he is so happy in his own garden here.
I carry around some change here too, the beautiful Colorado state quarters. I put one down on the ground once in a while when I know you are around, or in your car, or in your pocket. Not just for my family, but I know my friends have found these precious coins as well. It brings joy to my face when I see the smile on your face when you pick it up – knowing it came from me.
There are so many things that were left unsaid. And there is no real place or time to start to say them now. I know how much I was loved – I was told it every day. Maybe I should have said it more often, or showed it more often. But I am at peace and you know how much I loved, admired and looked up to you, both Mom and Dad. You know how much I appreciated the cars you bought me and the trips you took me on, and just cooking breakfast and dinner for me each and every day. I did have a wonderful life, and you know that goes without saying.
And as I told Mommy on Mother’s day – I have to go now. Daddy – enjoy Father’s day, read the cards I gave you in the past few years, they mean so much more now – the words I wrote; and keep writing your journal – I read every single word and like so many others I cry at every thought. It is my first Father’s day in heaven and I will be patting Tiger on the head, and hugging him from here.
I love you more now than ever, and I truly know what love means now.
I will write more soon – I promise.
Published on: Jun 12, 2014
Not advice, but just our choice in life
We all give and take advice from many people throughout our lives, and this is one of those times where I am not giving advice, but rather talking about a decision we made, and continue to make through our lives. For some people, this is a relevant discussion, for others, and for other reasons it might not be.
During our children’s lives we tried to provide for them. We struggled to give them good, fun lives. We gave them, or hope we gave them, a good childhood filled with love, memories, and mostly whatever they wanted. We took them on a few cruises, they went to summer camps when they wanted to, they had good equipment when they played sports, and we ate out at their favorite restaurants when we could. We tried not to have our children want anything that they could not have, but we also wanted to provide them with whatever they did want that was within reason. Thankfully they were pretty reasonable throughout their childhood. We tried to teach them the balance between getting what they wanted to live a fun life, and being financially responsible in what they wanted.
Was there a cost to this? Of course there was. Sometimes we had to carry a balance on our credit card for a while until we paid it off. Long term we don’t have a lot of funds in our retirement accounts, and will probably have to work longer than we had wanted to. We made a choice, maybe not a one time choice, but maybe a series of decisions throughout the past twenty one years that really did become one choice. We put our kids first, and our retirement second. Was it a good choice? Who knows. Let’s see how we do in retirement. But in hindsight, and with the way things happened, we are happy with the choices we made.
Andrew experienced so much in his short twenty one years. He traveled to many places, he became a certified Scuba diver and went scuba diving in many, many places, he went to the college he wanted to and skied in Vail every weekend. He had good hockey equipment, he had a snowboard he loved and was proud of, and traded going away to camp one summer for a very nice paintball gun he loved to use. I am glad that he had all of this. I know he was happy, and as anyone who knew him knows – he was not materialistic at all. He asked for things, but was always reasonable. He would buy his boxers and t-shirts at Target because they were cheap and fine for him. But he liked to buy his shirts at Abercrombie, because he liked the way he looked in them.
He also knew he was loved. Not because of what we bought him, or where we took him, or what he had, but because he felt it in his heart. He could feel the love. He knew we never missed his hockey games, we never missed his soccer games when he was a little boy. Getting to our kids games and showing the our support was our highest priority. I went to every bar and bat mitzvah lesson the kids had to make sure they knew what they had to know, and to help them when I could. We made it to every school play and every concert they were in. They were, and still are, our lives.
So what am I saying to people? That depends. There are plenty of people who read my posts and have a hard time making rent every month, and maybe take a short vacation every year to the shore. Others who read my posts have all the money they ever will need or want, and their children never know from want or need, and are provided with vacations, toys, equipment, whatever. And then there are those in the middle – like us. Every thing we buy we make a choice. Each expense that we pay comes from somewhere, and it usually has to come out of somewhere else. If you work late every night and don’t see your kids too much during the week, that is fine, it is your choice. But then don’t be upset when they grow up and you are not as close with them as you would like to be. Sort of Cats in the Cradle situation. Maybe you can provide for them financially, and at age ten they have their college completely funded, but did you watch them play soccer on the weekends and take them out to dinner just to talk? How many of us have heard stories of parents who worked themselves to death in well paying jobs, only to leave their families with lots of money – but only one parent.
Don’t miss your kids growing up. Don’t miss out on the most joyous things you will ever see – your kids in a concert in third grade, your son making his first score in soccer or hockey, your daughters first recital, whatever is important to them. These things will never be relived, and trust me, your kids will remember that you were there throughout their lives – and they will appreciate it.
For us, maybe we won’t have enough to retire when we want to. Maybe we will have to work a few more years, maybe we didn’t get a fine piece of jewelry or a nice watch when we traveled. But we where happy making sure our children had what they wanted, and we taught them the value of a dollar along the way, as well as the value of their parents love.
Andrew showed me some tie dye shirts he bought when he was in Boulder, and to my surprise he told me he bought them at the Goodwill store. He went there while he was doing his laundry in town. He also had several knick-knacks in his apartment from a place called The Box in Boulder. It is a place where people donate stuff, just drop it off, and others come and take what is there. No charges, no records, just a nice place to exchange items. We brought a lot of Andrew’s items there because he learned about charity from giving the stuff he didn’t use anymore to The Box – some pictures, old electronics, speakers, clothes – he donated a lot while in Boulder. Andrew was a very compassionate person, and he always gave a homeless person a dollar, or the change in his pocket. It was important to him to make a difference in someone else’s life.
Is this advice? I hope not. I am not preaching, I am not telling you how to live your life or how to save your money. What I am just saying is to look at your priorities. If your retirement means that much to you and you want to stop working at sixty, that is fine. If you can’t see your children’s soccer game because you have to work Saturday or lose your job, that is fine, it’s a choice you don’t have. But let’s face it – our kids are our lives for most of us, make sure they know it. I know deep in my heart that both Andrew and Nicole know they are our first and only priority in life.
I hope I don’t offend anyone with this entry, but this topic has come up in so many conversations over the past months that I just felt I wanted to write about it and express my feeling. If your viewpoint is different, I do understand. If you also do not to have children, by choice or not, I hope you are not bothered by this post, but maybe you can take something else away with you. The opinions stated in this entry are just mine.
Published on: Jun 18, 2014
Happy Father’s Day, my son
This is a hard post to write. Not because I am tearing, or because it is overly emotional. It is because I don’t know how to start it or how to put it. I guess the best way it to say it right from the start.
I am going to meet my grandson for the first time this weekend. Andrew’s and Jovi’s son. He is about eighteen months old and it is the first time I will see him. Dorothy was there for the birth, and Andrew and Jovi spent time with him last spring, but this is the first time I will see him.
Now for the backstory.
A little over two years ago, after they had been living together for a while, Jovi got pregnant. The two of them spent that summer in our home here in NY and Jovi did not know what to do so they waited until the returned to Boulder to take the test and it came back positive. After some thought and conversations they decided to keep the baby full term and put him up for adoption at birth. They called Dorothy and I and we fully supported their decision. They knew, as did we, that they were too young to keep the baby, and Dorothy and I were to old to start again with a new baby. They wanted this baby to have a wonderful and fulfilling life and the best way for to happen was to let go of him to a loving family who would raise it as their own. For those of you who don’t know, Jovi was adopted herself.
The next several months were pretty amazing. We traveled to Boulder every other week to take jovi to the doctor, to meet with adoption agencies, to sign papers with them, and to make sure everything was going well. They learned about and decided on an open adoption, which meant that they would be a limited part of the babies life, seeing him once a year, getting pictures of him regularly, and knowing how he was doing. It was pretty amazing to see this young couple mature so much and make all of these decisions and be so responsible. Dorothy and I were there to help them, but make no mistake, they decided on the family themselves, they went to court to sign the papers, and they did everything. We were standing behind, offering them advice and supporting them the whole time, but it was their process.
The family. One decision they made was that they were eventually going to return to New York and they wanted to be close to him (yes, it is a him), so they chose a NY agency to lead the placement. They looked over dozens of very detailed family profiles and had to make the hardest decision of their lives – who were they going to give their own flesh and blood over to. Andrew wanted the baby to be the first child that this couple had, he wanted it to be special in that way. Jovi wanted a family that traveled and saw the world – something she was never able to do but wanted her baby to have the chance for. They wanted a family they said that would spend time with the baby, rather than one that said that the family was wealthy and the baby would always be taken care of. They did eventually chose a family from Long Island. Far enough that they would not be tempted to go watch him from afar, but close enough that they could feel him nearby.
They first did a Skype session with the potential parents. I met the couple at the office before the Skype session, then they met Andrew and Jovi, and that went so perfect. They are warm and loving and we could all sense that. Then the couple went out to Boulder to meet them later on, which also went well. Andrew called us and he was so happy to meet them and his intuition told him how loving they were and how grateful his son would be raised by such wonderful people.
The baby was born in January last year, a few week early, happy and healthy. Dorothy arrived in Boulder a couple of hours after the birth and spend a week or so with the three of them for moral and physical support. We have many pictures of all of them with the baby. The adopting family arrived the day Dorothy left for home and spent several days with Jovi and Andrew in the hospital. Because the baby was small, and because it was an adoption, he spent a couple of weeks in the hospital. They did not want him to be alone, so Jovi was kept in the hospital as well.
People ask us if I went out there when the baby was born. No, I did not, or could not. I could not handle it and we all knew it. I spent way too much time with them during the process and was an emotional wreck at that point. If I had went out there and saw the baby, held the bay, looked into his eyes, who knew what would have happened. So we all made the decision for Dorothy to go at that point.
It was a very hard day for them when they left the hospital – alone. No matter how much you prepare for it, no matter how much you know you are doing the best thing for the baby, no matter what – it hurt them so much letting go. The baby stayed in Boulder another couple of weeks for legal reasons, and they spent time with him during those days. They called every night and told us how wonderful the couple was and how the baby was growing and eating and smiling.
They knew they made the right choice.
Andrew went back to studying, he just was in the middle of his Junior year. Jovi slowly went back to working. Every month they received pictures of the baby and exchanged e-mails with the parents. We cherish those pictures. They both had their son as their screen savers, background images, keychain pictures and on the wall next to their bed. As Dorothy and I do now.
What gives us great peace is that Andrew and Jovi went to see the baby when they were here in New York. They came home gleaming and bragging about their son. That visit made their spring. The picture we love the most these days is the one of Andrew holding his son. Now it is time for me to hold his son, for a few minutes.
We keep in touch with the parents, they still send pictures, we exchange emails, they even came to Andrew’s funeral – which meant more to us than anyone could imagine. They have pictures of Andrew as a young boy, as well as a young man. We have been writing letters to the baby and talking about Andrew and Jovi so that when he grows up he knows them through our words.
We have told people in person about the baby when we see them. Andrew’s friends tell us that he talked about his son a lot, with pride and honor gleaming from his bright face. Now it is time for me to meet my grandson for the first time. Nicole is going with us, she is excited to meet her nephew for the first time. There is so much more I want to say, and need to say, but I am going to keep that for later. I want to talk about how we feel, about the fact that a part of Andrew is still alive and how blessed we are to have him around. But more to come soon.
I hope you are as happy as we are about this. We are at a loss many times with our feelings, so happy at times when we look at the pictures, and yet so sad that Andrew is gone.
Happy Father’s Day, my son. You’re first one in heaven. Your son will miss you his entire life.
Published on: Jun 22, 2014
Dear Andrew, I met your son.
Your son is gorgeous. I want you to know that, but I am sure you already know that. He is playful, adventurous, funny, and so happy. He smiled the entire time we were with him. He reminds us of you when you were a little boy. He has beautiful red hair, just like you used to have. He has wide round eyes – just like Jovi’s. He has your walk and your quick feet, and he is small and petite like Jovi. He is the perfect mix of the two of you.
We brought him a few things, from all of us. First, we brought him a stuffed giraffe, just like you guys gave him last year and when he was born. He immediately took and played with it, and of course shoved it into his mouth. And after a few minutes threw it down and went onto the next toy. But he kept on going back to it, kept on picking it up and playing with it. Little does he know the link between that little stuffed animal and his parents. We will keep giving him a giraffe every year when we see him, as long as we can, and one day he will wonder why, and he will read the letters I am writing him and realize it was the first and only toy his mom and dad gave him when he was just a few days old. We also gave him a hockey stick. Not just any stick, but the one’s we gave out at your Bar Mitzvah. He grabbed the middle of it, but Nicole quickly corrected him and taught him to hold the right end of the stick – hopefully that will stick. There were also a couple of small foam pucks for him to hit around. He didn’t know what to do with them yet, but I am sure he will learn soon.
Nicole took to him so well. She picked him up and held him – and she smiled – and I cried inside. She took pictures of herself holding Tiger, and insisted that I take more of them as well with her phone. This way she will forever have them with her. People call him Tiger because of his gorgeous red hair, just like you, Jovi and the nurses called him Tiger in the hospital when he was born – it stuck.
I held him. I held him like I had held you so many years ago. I was proud of him, and loved him so much, although I have only known him a few minutes. He is part of me, he is part of you. He is the part of you that is still here on this planet, that will forever be here.
I looked around, and I did not see you. But I know that you were there. I know that you are always there with him. I know that you will forever watch over your son, protecting him, showering him with love from heaven, and being his guardian angel throughout his life. You will protect him and help him make tough decisions, just like your father did for you, for as long as I was allowed to. He will one day want to know more about you, and hopefully in the letters that Mommy, Jovi and I are writing him he will know you as well as if you were still here holding his hand. That is our job now, to leave you legacy to your son so that he knows where he came from, and to hopefully guide him in some small way to where he might want to go.
Will he be a reader or a writer? An athlete, or as Nicole says, a N.A.R.P.? Will he want to know all about you and one day question us about everything you were, or will he just read the letters we write and be happy? Who knows. But no matter what – he is your son, and he will always be your son. His parents tell us he loves puzzles, and loves solving things. We immediately thought of your Rubic’s Cubes. He has so much of you in him.
We were with his parents, and the way their faces lit up when they held him was amazing. The words they used to describe their son just filled our hearts with warmth and love. The love they have for him is immeasurable, just like your love for your son when you met and held him. They are amazing parents you and Jovi chose – you guys did a great job.
I am home now. I am also at a different place in life than I was a few days ago. For the first time I held my grandson, i looked into his eyes, and knew he was loved, and when I looked into his eyes, I saw you looking back at me. I see you, and although you are not here with us, you left this world an amazing gift. This world, as well as Tiger’s home, is a better place for you having been here for your short number of years. You gave life and happiness to a family that could not have it without your love and your baby. You and Jovi did something so incredibly generous and without any hesitation or regret, Heaven has a special place for you.
I hope that you can one day visit Tiger, and for him to know his father came to see him. It might be a dream, or a butterfly, or a found coin on the floor, but I know that he will love you as you love him and as we love you. I am sure you will see him graduate kindergarten one day, then high school an college, and you will be as proud of him as his parents are.
Love never dies, only people do.
By the way, a NARP is a Non Athletic Regular Person.
Published on: Jun 27, 2014
Who’s afraid of ghosts
Who’s afraid of ghosts? I remember just a short time ago, I used to not walk out in the pitch black. I would look over my shoulder in the dark all too often. When looking in a mirror I would not look to the far edges for fear as to what I would see there – what eyes would look back at me. I didn’t want to sit alone on a chair in the dark backyard. When I walked up the stairs from a dark basement I would walk just a tad faster toward the end in fear of that ever present fearsome ghost grabbing me. Maybe these were normal fears, or maybe conjured up by the fear of the unknown.
But now that has all changed.
I embrace sitting alone for long stretches in the pitch black backyard. When I look in a mirror, I look to the edges, I look to the farthest point of reflection I can see, I stare at the little shards of a shattered mirror. I sit in the dark often, I stand on the deck at night alone looking at the chairs on the patio below me. When I get home late at night I sit in my still car alone for just a few more moments than usual. I walk slowly from the car to the front door. I am no longer afraid.
And I am sure I am not alone. I am sure every grieving parent knows why I do this.
I look at that chair and wait and wish to see Andrew there staring back at me and smiling. I recall the hours him and I spent during his last summer, sitting in those chairs talking and listening by the fire. I look in the mirror in hopes of seeing my son’s face looking back at me for just an instance. I stand on the deck alone hoping that I will hear his voice saying “Daddy, I am okay”. Just to hear his voice one more time.
I long to be one of those grieving parents who has a conversation with their child that was taken from them way to soon. I want to sit up at night and see him sitting at the end of the bed and have a conversation with him until he says he has to go – but tells me he is happy, peaceful and he wishes for me and Mommy to be happy again. I want to hear him say he will be there waiting for us when our times come. I want to be one of those who sees their child’s beautiful face looking back at them in the mirror, or their image standing beside them in the reflection. I want, or should I say I need to know my son is at peace, but I want to hear it from him, or from what he has become.
I long to see the ghost, that ghost that I no longer fear, but that I now embrace.
Published on: Jul 3, 2014
It Must Hurt
A client was over a few days ago and we were talking about Andrew and hockey and such. He asked some other questions about Andrew, so I showed him Andrew’s trophies in his bedroom, amongst all of his other treasured belongings. Afterwards, client said “it must hurt” to go into his room. It made me think.
Yes, it does hurt to go into his bedroom, to see all of his precious belongings – to see his childhood toys, his guitar that he learned to play on collecting dust, his skateboard that does not bring anyone anywhere anymore. It hurts to see the paintball gun that he loved to use just sitting there, to see his rubiks cubes, some solved, others that will never be solved because he is not here anymore. His New York Rangers sticker peeling off the window because no one is there to fix it, right next to his Harrison Huskies sticker and his Rye Mariners sticker – all parts of his life.
To see the things I gave him that I knew he would like to play with or just to have, like his collection of foreign coins he’d been since he was five. There is also the light cube that one of my dearest clients gave me because he knew Andrew would appreciate it (see it here). Andrew never got to see it because it arrived the day before we lost him – that really hurts because I know he would have stared at it for hours in amazement.
But I also find comfort in his room.
I look at his paintball gun and recall all the good times he had with it. I used to watch him take it apart and meticulously clean it. He used to exchange parts with his friends and use different triggers, and different tanks – he loved to just experiment and try different combinations. I look at the rubiks cubes and recall a story Todd tells. – Todd handed Andrew the cube in front of some of his friends, and in the time it took for Todd asked his friends how long do they think it would take Andrew to solve it, and their answers that he would not be able to – Andrew handed the solved cube back to Todd. Everyone was amazed.
I look at his top shelf full of trophies. Not just hockey, but chess trophies and soccer trophies as well. Lasting reminders of the triumphs Andrew and his teams earned over the years. I remember each and every one of them. I remember the games, I remember the teams, I remember the embraces afterward. I was fortunate enough to have coached Andrew’s teams for nine years, as well as spring leagues and tournament teams. It brings joy to my heart when I think how proud he was to be part of each and every team he was on. He was never the star of the team, but he loved being part of it. We have received so many messages from his teammates telling us how Andrew was such an integral part of their teams, and they usually mention how he made them all smile and laugh – no matter what. Looking at his wall of pucks that he collected over the years. There are so many that we never got to put up.
His electric guitar is also still in his room. I look at it and wonder how it sounded when he played it. He used to not want to bother us so he plugged it into his amp and used his headphones, so we never really heard him play. But his friends said that he played for them, and we hear he was pretty good. He also had an acoustic guitar from Uncle Joe, that his cousin has now. He is learning to play as well in Andrew’s honor – that makes me happy.
I also see Andrew’s black and white flannel shirts hanging up, and I hang them on his door knob so I see them every day when I walk down the hall. I see his t-shirts and his team jackets. Although he outgrew many of the clothes he had, he kept them as a reminder to himself of the good times he had when he wore them. There are shirts from the farm, from old hockey teams, from school – all too small for him, but memories attached to them. Some of those memories still live on with me, but some of them only known to him and passed along with him. Some of the shirts we will keep forever, but others will be made into memory quilts for those who knew and loved Andrew.
What else is there? He has the license plates from his cars – he loved loved loved to drive and I love the fact that I can see his license plates and remember the smile that he had whenever he drove his Jetta or his RX8. There is an armrest that he took from his high school auditorium. I asked him about that and he said he just thought it was cool to have. He also had some keys to the school, along with a pad of library passes and a pad of late passes – I don’t know where he got them or what they were for, but he thought is was too cool to pass them up. That was my son.
So does going into Andrew’s room hurt? Of course it does, it hurts like hell and brings tears to my face every time. But his room is full of who Andrew was, what he was, what he loved, what he wanted to be.
It is full of his happy memories, as well as my happy memories of him, full of my joyous times with him and our entire family.
I would not give up my daily visits to my son’s room for anything.
It was hard to say three. The cashier asked us how many tickets do we need, and we choked on the word three. Not because we had never asked for three tickets before, but this was different. This was permanent, this was for the rest of our lives. Our family is now three people, not four.
We finally got the words out, purchased the tickets, and Dorothy, Nicole and I went into the Atlanta Zoo and had a very nice day. We walked all around and stayed close, the three of us. We gazed at the animals, pet them in the petting zoo, watched the birds and the gorillas and the lions. We talked about the bears, and the three of us watched the pandas eat bamboo, we were all freaked out by the snakes and the lizards, and we stared at the gorillas that stared back at us. It was so nice just to be there. Dorothy and I were happy that Nicole was enjoying the zoo, as she always has. But it was also so hard for us. Andrew always loved the animals and loved the zoo, he should have been there with us. He probably would have been the first to want to leave, his patience doesn’t last all day, but he should have at least had the opportunity to ask us when are we leaving. But, we did had a very fun day with Nicole. We needed the few hours to just let go and be happy.
Later that day we went to the the Coke Experience. Again, three tickets. And the next day was breakfast for three, and three tickets to the Atlanta Braves game. Just saying three makes me sad. That is our new reality. We are no longer four, we are three. There is the same amount of love between us, just shared three ways now, not four, anymore.
I have to look back. I have to look back and smile. We were four. We had so many experiences and memories as four. We did so much, experienced so much, traveled so much – as four. I have to be so grateful that we were able to do all that with Andrew. I have to be thankful that we were four for so long, or just a short twenty one years. But it was a wonderful time, twenty one years that I will never forget. Twenty one years of great memories. I just hope that I can remember those twenty one years for the rest of my life, and that Nicole will remember her years with Andrew for the rest of her life.
I have to look at the pictures of the four of us and remember how wonderful life was. I know that the four of us were so close. Each of us having a different relationship with the others. My relationship with Andrew was far different than was Dorothy’s. Her love for Andrew was a pure mother’s love, he could do no wrong, they never argued, he never fought with his mom. When he was frustrated or upset, he loved his mom too much to argue or fight with her, and he would just walk away and say nothing was wrong. We talk about it, and we really can not remember a time he talked back to her, fought with her, or hurt her feelings. He was a wonderful son to her.
When he wanted to go somewhere and needed company, or wanted to take a ride, there was always Nicole. They went out to dinner together, or even lunch when they were both home. And anytime there was something missing or short in the fridge, they would both eagerly go shopping for one or two items, and return home with three or four bags of stuff we absolutely needed. Stuff like Oreo cookies, Miso soup mix, along with plenty of fruit and vegetables. They would even call grandma and ask her if she needed anything from the store. And of course they would deliver it to her, usually just in time for lunch or dinner – they planned that rather well usually. Although they lived apart much of the year, they were so close emotionally to each other.
Then there was our relationship. It was probably more complex than others. The frustration and anxiety he did not let his mom feel or hear, he let me have. We very rarely argued much, or fought, but he knew that I could take more than mom, so he did let it out on me more than anyone else. But it didn’t bother me, because I knew where it came from and knew it might have been something someone else caused, but he knew I could take the hit. We were also closer than the rest. We spent more time together, we traveled more together, and we talked so much during the time Jovi was pregnant and I learned so much about his thoughts and feelings, it really changed our relationship for the better. We also spent hours out in the backyard his last summer talking over the new fire pit. I learned so much about my son in the past few years. He had grown up so much being away at college, I looked forward to watching him become a man, to watching him grow into the person he was becoming. To watch him become a husband and a father, and see if what I taught him really sunk in. To see if my values and morals, at least the good ones, would be passed on to him. I will think about that, and what might have been, for the rest of my life. A relationship between a father and son is like no other.
But now we are three, and I long to see how Nicole will turn out. How will she find happiness in life. I know that she is a strong person, she is strong willed, and goes after what she wants. She does not sit back and wait for anything. She is much more independent than Andrew was, she asks for help much less and is determined to do it right – no matter what it is.
Yes, we are three now, but we will always really be four.