This page is the first journal posts on top, down to the current one’s at the end.
If you are new, It is much more relevant to read them in order.
Published on: Jan 29, 2014
I have set up Andrew’s site. I don’t want to call it a memorial site, or a blog. It is going to be an on-going project about Andrew’s life, our memories of my son, as well as other people’s memories about Andrew.
I find great comfort in writing about Andrew. I can’t say I enjoy it, because I am not sure what I enjoy in my life anymore without him, but I find it very helpful to write about him. Some of the posts will be sad, about our missing him. Others will be more upbeat about the good times we had and the positive effects Andrew had on so many lives. I have never written for my friends, and the public at large, so please bear with me as I learn this process.
One thing I am thinking about that i do enjoy and that is Nicole. She has always been the light in my life along side her brother, she is what keeps me going, she is where I have always found joy and happiness, and even more now. If it were not for her I am not sure where I would be now or headed in the future. But in her, I have a continued purpose in life, and my life has meaning. And that I am forever grateful for.
I have written one post which I am going to edit and post some time soon. Any feedback, comments, anything, is greatly appreciates. If you read something that stirs you, that affects you or your life, or that brings a smile or tear to your face, I would appreciate it if you can write a comment on the post. That way I know people are reading it, and that there is a purpose in what I am doing, more than just to find peace within myself and my life.
Published on: Feb 1, 2014
Congratulations. This is hardly a way to start a post on a site focused on my grieving for my son, but with this one it is appropriate.
A couple of months after Andrew passed, Dorothy and I received a non-descript padded 11”x14” envelope in the mail from the University of Colorado at Boulder, Andrew’s school. We opened it and to our surprise it was Andrew’s college diploma from CU Boulder. The school graduated Andrew and sent us his diploma. We cried all night, but tears of happiness for a change. Andrew worked very hard consistently for three years for this diploma. He studied in the library at night, he studied over the weekends, he wrote papers, and took a lot of tests. This is the first thing in Andrew’s life that he really, really worked hard for, that he saw value in, and he knew he was working hard for it. And it changed him in the last three years for the better.
Those who knew Andrew knew he had a way of not having to work hard, through no fault of his own. He practiced very hard in hockey and worked hard during the games, but he loved that and enjoyed it, so it was not really hard work for him. High school was rather easy for him, and he did not do much studying or homework and did not have to work very hard during the day, and still got A’s and B’s. He learned to snowboard in a matter of a couple of hours, and when he forgot his boots one day, he rented a pair of skis and spent all day skiing like a pro. He picked up on driving very fast, and after only a few months took his road test and scored a perfect score with absolutely no points taken off. Yes, I am sure there were things that challenged him in his short life, but he never really worked as hard as he had to in order to earn his college degree.
We learned that it was his fellow psychology students, teachers and professors that requested that the school graduate him and issue him his diploma. That was so amazingly kind and compassionate of so many people. He was only two core courses away from graduation, and I am sure that this little piece of paper with some words and his name scrolled on it means so much to him.
It brought back memories of when Andrew graduated from high school. He had a huge smile across his face, he felt so accomplished, he was headed to Colorado, he had his whole life ahead of him. He was so happy. He was typical Andrew – he wore his sandals and had his Abercrombie shorts and a t-shirt on under his unzipped gown.
We are going to be happy when all of his friends and his two cousins graduate from college this May. We know that Andrew would be proud of them all. We are just going to be sad that he won’t be walking down the aisle by himself or with them, but he will be looking over them from above.
We have the diploma in the padded folding case that it came in on a table in the living room along with his pictures and other treasures of his life. We look at it every day and we are so proud of him that he got so far.
Published on: Feb 3, 2014
What can I say? There are no words.
A very close friend of mine’s elderly father is very close to the end of his time. Maybe days, maybe weeks or months. He has been in and out of the hospital and hospice, and every time someone sees him, it might be there last. But that is not the point of this post. I talk to my friend and I am at a loss as to what I can say about what he is going through. The words just are not there.
My father passed away when I was young, sixteen, suddenly, without warning, and while he was away from home. I talk to my friend and I listen to what he is going through, and although I listen and understand and feel for him, I just can not emotionally relate to it and can not empathize with him. I don’t have the mutual experience and have never gone through the pain and agony of a parent slowly drawn to death. I know, or think I know, that it is very difficult, emotionally draining, and almost all consuming of life. But – I have no reference point to truly empathize with him, although as his friend I can sympathize with him. I never went through it, I never had the experience of those emotions. Although we talk, and I listen to him, and I give him words of encouragement and try to ease his pain, I am at a loss to really know what to say. It is a horrible feeling to be with someone and not to be able to ease their pain.
What is the point of this you ask? Well, almost all of you, my friends, relatives, and colleagues, are in the same situation I am in, but with Dorothy and I. You want to help, you want to comfort us, and you want to help us heal, but you don’t know what to say. You are at a loss for words. You look at us and the words just fail to come out. We can not count how many times people look at us and have said that they feel bad because they don’t know what to say. Some people have actually avoided us because they are at a loss for words, or they can’t deal with our loss. Trust me, what happened to us not contagious.
We understand. We really do. We are thankful that you are blessed and do not share our pain, that you have not experienced the devastating loss we have and that we live with each and every day, and that you go home at night and kiss your children goodnight. We are truly happy for you.
What I know is that anything that you say to us or do with us helps. Sometimes is it not words. Sometimes just a hug means so much to us. Yea, we might cry, but we need to. And if you cry with us, that is fine as well. Andrew touched so many lives that people have to cry to remember and grieve him. A short e-mail or letter saying you are thinking about us makes all the difference in our day. We thank those of you who have spent time with us to talk about life, make us smile, make us laugh a bit, and bring some joy to our lives. We are happy to get a letter in the mail telling us you are thinking about us, or share a story about Andrew with us that we have never heard. A hug. A hello. Something to read about him, or tell us what is going on in your life – everything helps.
What can I say? There are no words. There are no words that will make us feel better. There are no words that will bring our son home. There are no words that will make us stop our grieving. So don’t feel bad when you can not find the words to say to us when you see us or talk to us. There are no words.
There are no words.
Published on: Feb 8, 2014
My father and my son.
I did something that was so hard for me to do a couple of weeks ago. I said Kaddish for both my father as well as my son together. It has been hard to say it for my dad for the past thirty four years. Every time I say it I try to recall him, try to remember the times we had together. Every year it gets harder and harder as I get older and the memories of when I was a boy fade with age. It has been devastatingly hard to say Kaddish for Andrew since September. I cry every single time I stand, thinking about him and how much I miss my son. But saying it together for them made me think about them more than cry over them. It was a very introspective experience.
What goes on in Heaven? My father was there for thirty four years before Andrew was called. Was my father there to meet and welcome his grandson and make the transition easier for him? Nicole asked that the Angels lead Andrew into heaven, was my dad one of those angels? Andrew does not know many people in heaven. Of course he know Dorothy’s father, and I am sure he is holding him, and Aunt Flo and Uncle Cy who loved him dearly. But he has no friends or close relatives that went before him to help him. I know he felt lost and alone and dealt with anxiety sometimes here on earth, not sure where to go, what to do, or who to hold. I hope that did not follow him and that pain was left here on earth.
What I picture in my mind over and over again is Andrew and dad sitting at a wood picnic bench high in the mountains talking to each other and sharing stories about me. They both loved the mountains and this image brings me great peace.
My father only knew me for 16 years, 2 months, 10 days, or 5915 days. That was way too short to really get to know me, and I know that I really never got to know my father the way a son should. But we had great times. We went cross-country as a family twice, we went on many, many wonderful vacations, we learned to SCUBA dive together and dove together for a few years. He helped me in school, and helped me through my youth riddled with ADD, OCS, hyper-activity, and was always there to help me. But sixteen years was way to short to really learn me as a person, and for me to really appreciate how much I needed him throughout my life. All of his memories of me where as a boy, and just into my teen years.
My own son, Andrew, did not fare much better, he knew me for 21 years, 7 months, 27 days, or 7910 days. He knew me as his father, as his protector, and someone he could always count on. We also went on many great vacations, some cruises, and he too got SCUBA certified and we went on many dives along with Nicole and Dorothy. Each and every dive was a great experience. Andrew and I talked for hours on end about life, about what he wanted to do when he gradated, and about everything from the Beatles to computers. I too helped my son through a myriad of issues with his ADD, ADHD, stress, and his kidney stones. It was always a challenge and it made me appreciate what my mom and dad went though with me growing up. It was a challenge, but I know that he knew I always had his back and that I always was there to support, protect, and defend him.
So now I sit here alone at my table, thinking about them, knowing that my son and my father are together talking about me. They are sharing stories, laughing, holding hands and smiling, thankful for the time each of them had with me here on earth. Knowing that they both loved me, and knowing that I loved them both so much and miss them both so much. They never met in life, but they are now forever together for eternity in heaven. This picture in my mind brings me so much peace.
Maybe one day, hopefully many years down the road, I will join them at that park bench and set the stories straight.
Published on: Feb 14, 2014
Can we have a good time?
Dorothy and I went out the other day. It was the first time we actually went to “something” other than go out to dinner with a few friends. And it was nice. We had a good time, all things considered.
We were invited to a wine auction luncheon for the Rockland Center for the Arts by one of my closest friend’s mother, someone who I have been calling mom for over forty years. It took us a couple of weeks of introspective thought to accept Molly’s invitation, but she was very happy we did. We had to really think about it. Was it too soon? Would be feel guilty going out and having a good time? There would be no one there other than Molly, my friend and his fiancé, and another couple who she invited, who knew us and who could come over and say they were sorry. We would have our own car so if we needed to we could leave at any time. We know the restaurant and the owner, so we felt like it would be a safe place for us. It actually is one of Andrew’s favorite eateries – X2O in Yonkers. When we told Molly we would go, she was very happy, and we felt a certain sense of relief, as well as others feeling we really can not explain.
Does this mean we are “better”? Are we finally “over it”? Absolutely not. Not on your life. This means that we realize that we still have to live and continue on with our lives, which we always knew, but could not accept. This means that we can get out of the house and be with others, that we could have a nice time with others, and yet still think and talk about Andrew. Which we did at lunch. We told stories about him, we remembered him, and we know we all love and miss him so very much. We talked about when we grew up, we talked about our dads, we talked about their upcoming wedding. We talked a lot. What was important is that we were able to go out, be with friends, enjoy ourselves, and still grieve for our son. And be with others who understood this. This is a big step. We are forever grateful for the invitation, Molly,
Will we be over it soon, or ever? No. We will never be over it, we can’t be. But we can live our lives, our new lives, to some degree. We are always one question, or one story, or seeing one person, away from being in tears. As I have said before, we are different people now, we are not the same people we were five months ago. There are people who want us to be who we were, they want the old Perry and Dorothy and Nicole back. That won’t happen. But our friends and relatives are ready to accept who we are now. And that is so much appreciated. If you’re waiting for us to be our old selves, or waiting for us to be over our loss and our grief, we are sorry to say that that will never be. Actually we are not sorry. We want to, and need to, be new people. People who remember our son, who can talk about him and be accepted as we are now. It might be a hard concept for some people to accept, but we ask that you do.
We are still not ready to go out to a party. We are still not ready to laugh and be part of a large gathering, but we are getting there. Bear with us.
By the way, we did bid on and win a very special bottle of wine at the auction. Now we cherish this bottle and await the perfect time to open it and share it with friends.
Published on: Feb 17, 2014
A true insight into Andrew – his Bucket List.
While cleaning up Andrew’s room a while ago (that is a post all by itself one day), I came across a few file folders on his shelf. There were no papers or anything in them so I was about to through them out when I looked inside one of them and what I found amazed me. I found Andrew’s Bucket List. I sat down on the edge of his bed and read what I had found over and over again. It truly is an entry into my son’s personality, into his mind, into his amazing sense of humor, and into his true compassion as a human being.
I showed it to his friend Wally who said he remembered seeing it a few years ago and thinks Andrew wrote it while a junior in high school. Not a project or an assignment – just something that he wanted to have.
Below is what he had on his list, the list of what he wanted to accomplish in his life before he left this world. Most people make this list later on in life, when it is usually too late to fulfill the list. With Andrew everything had to be done early, so he did it at eighteen or nineteen. While he was only able to accomplish a few of his dreams, what he listed is truly insightful. Read it slow, and think about each one, you will come away from this list a changed person, I promise.
Get our of Harrison alive
Visit Amsterdam / Europe / Australia
Own a pet monkey
See someone hit by a car and have his shoes come off
Own a pool full of Jello or pudding
Live in Colorado at some point of my life
Save 1 life
Live on an island (but not the island from Lost, it confuses me too much)
Count cards in Vegas
Meet a Ninja
Become a Ninja
Learn to surf
Read a book all the way through
Write/Publish a book
Have a water fountain in my house this is filled with fruit punch
Don’t get kicked out of college (for not going to class)
Citizens arrest a cop
Parachute from a plane onto a mountain and snowboard down
Blow up something with my mind
Take a vow of silence
Never fail a class
Go back in time and stop the following from happening”
Movies: The Happening
The caveman in the Geico commercial gets his own show
Ms. Fitzsimons from being allowed to coach.
There are so many things I can write about on this list, I can go into each one and it would take weeks of journals, and eventually I might. But there are a few I want to highlight that really touched me.
The first one, and it was probably the most important item to him, and the deepest, is “Save 1 life”. In his passing, I think he did accomplish this one item. Actually I think he may have saved several lives in his passing. His friends told me that they can not believe he is gone. Of all the kids they knew, all those who lived on the edge, all those who experimented with drugs, drove recklessly, played with knives, pushed the limits as hard as they could, Andrew was none of these. He was the safe one, he was the cautious one. Yes, he drove fast, and smoked a little weed years ago, but he was the funny one, he was the smart one, he was the last one who death would come after. And yet he is gone the first. This scared a lot of his friends, and maybe, just maybe saved a life or two – I would like to think so.
Cure cancer. What 17 year old thinks of that? But his compassion for others, and his want to help others made him put that on his list. I am not sure he really thought he could do this, but he did dream.
He did Get our of Harrison alive, and he did Live in Colorado. He was so thrilled to be out there, he loved the mountains, he loved to snowboard, and he was away from the politics and the crap that runs this town. He took a lot of pictures of Colorado, they are on his I-Phone and on his laptops, so if and when he came back here, he could always look at them and remember how beautiful and how much he loved living there.
But he also took some very nice pictures around the house here in Harrison, and the people here, so that if he did not get back he would have them to look at. I will post those pictures some time soon, they are really nice.
Own a pet monkey? Become a Ninja? Citizens arrest a cop? Blow up something with my mind? He was a funny little boy and it does show. I am sure he would have owned the monkey and arrested the cop if the situation presented itself.
He never Failed a class, and he never Got kicked out of college. He graduated college and that would have made him happy, although not on his list.
There are some things I never knew he wanted to do. Skydive. Parachute from an airplane and snowboard down a mountain. Lucid dream. Visit Amsterdam / Europe / Australia. If only I had known these things I would have done what I could to make them happen. We had time when he was home and if I had only known, I would have done whatever it took to make him happy.
To those of you out there who have dreams and have a list in their head, share them with your parents, don’t hide them. Maybe they will become reality, but only if others know. Only if knew.
The one entry that hurts me inside is Learn to surf. He did tell me about this desire to learn to surf recently and we did act on it. Andrew and I were planning to go to Mexico this past summer to learn surfing, but his broken right hand got in the way and we could not make the trip. Before I left Boulder the last time I saw him, we talked about going to Mexico during his winter break and he was excited and happy to do that. It would have been our time together for a week or so, just dad and Andrew living on the beach, learning to surf, taking some pictures, and doing what dads and their sons do. I will forever miss that opportunity.
Published on: Feb 20, 2014
Three things that made Andrew who he was.
When Andrew was about eleven or twelve and Nicole about nine, Lonya came by the house the week before Purim and gave them each a small basket of Purim treats, a Purim Basket. I had known Lonya for years from playing hockey, and she had met and talked to my kids several times at the various rinks we played in. The bags contained some hamentashen cookies, candy, and small gifts, part of a Jewish tradition known as mishloach manot. Basically it is a mitzvah, making sure people have enough food for the Jewish holiday of Purim, but also a mitzvah to give charity, especially to children. Although Nicole was eager to accept the gift unconditionally, and loved the cookies and gifts, the gift puzzled Andrew. He had only met Lonya a few times, he was not close friends with her, he did not celebrate Purim other than in Hebrew school, and had never received a gift before that was not associated with his something he related to – his birthday, Chanukah or Christmas. He did of course eat everything an play with the toys, but he thought about it a lot.
He stored it in the back of his mind for years. Every once in a while he would ask me about it and ask how Lonya was doing. Over the years, he bought small items with the intention of donating them to someone who could not afford them. He routinely donated his unused toys and clothes to the needy, even asking Nicole for her unused toys to donate. This became something that he did throughout his life. Even in Boulder, instead of throwing stuff away, he would bring it to a donation site and leave it there in hopes that someone would find it and use it.
I thank Lonya for teaching Andrew this valuable life lesson that changed his way of thinking. You touched and effected my son’s life in a vey positive manner, for that I am forever thankful.
A year or so later while, and I am sorry to have to make this into a hockey story, Andrew was talking to me in the car ride home from a game. He mentioned that one of the players on his team, Robert (not his real name), was tying a pair of hockey sox around his shoulders to give the appearance under his jersey that he was wearing shoulder pads. He didn’t know why, neither did I. All I knew was that Robert came from a family that did not have the means to buy a lot of nice things, that he received a scholarship to play hockey with the organization, and that when we traveled he stayed in another players room to save money. I figured it was for financial reasons that he used the sox – he could not afford a new set of shoulder pads. Thinking about it, Robert also had ratty old gloves, and skates that were too small for him.
In a day or two I talked to my young son again and told him why Robert had the sox, and that he should not mention it in the locker room as to not embarrass him – it probably already bothered him that the other players knew, but let’s not bring it up. Andrew’s immediate response to me was that he could give his pads to Robert and we could go out and buy some new ones. Andrew always loved new equipment. Although a good idea, I told him that his would not fit Robert – Andrew was about 140 pounds, Robert about 180. He didn’t let it go and pushed me more. He asked if any of the Manhattanville players that we were friends with had old pads that they didn’t want – they get new equipment in college. I wasn’t sure but I would ask. It took a little while, but eventually Andrew’s coach, Coach Rich, did get used, and some new, equipment from Manhattanville, and Robert got nice new equipment, including skates, to replace the only equipment he could afford.
Andrew learned a lesson from this, and learned compassion for others through Robert. I also have to thank Coach Rich for stepping in, seeing a need, and using his contacts and friendships to help out tremendously. It might have seemed a small thing back then, but it shaped how Andrew thought from then on.
Andrew’s neurologist, Dr. Roseman, ran in a coat drive for disadvantaged youth in and around Westchester for several years. Andrew cleaned out his closet and found a few coats to donate, he felt pretty good about that. But when we were at a rink that weekend and he saw a dozen or so unclaimed coats in the lost and found, he asked me about them. If you have ever been in a rink, there is always a box somewhere called the lost and found, and it is always over flowing with jackets, hats, gloves, skates, etc. Most things in the box are never claimed, and eventually thrown away. We talked to the rink manager who showed us the back room where he had about twenty unclaimed kids coats that were going to be thrown away soon. The smile on Andrew’s face when he asked if we could have them to donate and was told yes was priceless. He got a couple of bags and packed them all into the bags and filled the back of my truck. This turned into Andrew’s Bar Mitzvah project.
This repeated itself at almost every rink we went to from November through January. All in all, Andrew collected over a hundred and fifty children’s coats, bagged them and stored them in our garage. Finally in January we brought them over to Dr. Roseman to give out to the needy. I was happy to have my garage back, and Andrew was so thrilled when he got a hug and a huge thank you from the doctor.
Thank you Dr. Roseman for giving Andrew a project that he turned into a mission.
This was Andrew. He was compassionate and constantly thought about other. He did not have a lot of material possession, he did not keep stuff he had no use for, and did not really collect anything. He used what he needed and gave the rest away. (other than computer stuff and gaming systems and games, which he had way too much of).
Last summer he asked me for a computer for a friend of his, I didn’t even recognize the name. He said his friends mother did not have a job and she was going to the library to use their computer to find a job, and that they could not afford a computer. I had a spare unused computer in the house he asked for. Andrew cleaned out that computer, reformatted it, reinstalled Windows and all the drivers, and Microsoft Office, and set up that computer in their house. He also punched a whole through the wall so they could connected it to their neighboring apartments internet (with their permission of course). He was very happy to help them out, but only told me, never made it public or told his other friends. He never wanted the attention, he just wanted to help out.
I shared these stories for a few reasons. One is that it shows a lot about Andrew. What shaped his thinking, and how he reacted to what he heard and saw in life. Second is to thank those who shaped his life in a positive manner, without knowing it or asking for it, but they had a very positive influence on Andrew. And third, so when we start Andrew’s foundation this spring, you will know why we are doing what we are doing in his name, in his memory, and in his honor.
If you experienced Andrew’s generosity, his thoughtfulness, his compassion, his charity, everyone would greatly like to hear about it. Please post a comment, even anonymously, but share with others so everyone can see what Andrew was all about.
Published on: Feb 25, 2014
I still have two children.
What I have to think about and be grateful for in my life is my daughter, Nicole. She is the love of my life, she is the bright spot in my life, she is what keeps me going each and every day. And I do say think about because I have to constantly remember that I have another child. One that is still with us, one that I deeply and truly love as much as I have ever loved Andrew, one that I talk to and text as much as I can. I know that sounds hard to understand, but there is a real difference between my love for my children.
I speak to Nicole about once a week, we text each other a couple of times a week, and I get to see her about every other weekend. I think this is pretty normal for a college kid. I have her pictures on my desktop, on the wall next to my desk, and in the living room. I love to watch her play hockey, take rides with her to go shopping, and going out to her favorite restaurants. I look forward to her graduating college, getting married, and having children, my grandchildren. I love to hear about what is going on in her life, she asks me to do her favors or take care of things for her. I look forward every day to growing older and watching my precious daughter grow into a young woman, get a job, maybe coach one day. This is what I live for every single moment. She is nineteen now, she will be twenty twenty-two when she graduates college. Maybe twenty-eight or thirty when she gets married, and thirty or thirty-five when she has a child. There are so many new memories I look forward to making with my daughter. She will also, as she so often reminds me, pick an old age home to put me in one day. She is here, she is physically with us, She is my child who forever will be in my arms.
Andrew is 21. He was twenty-one last august, he was still twenty-one two months after his last birthday in December. Next year he will be twenty-one. When I turn fifty-five and sixty and six-five, he will still be twenty-one. With Andrew I have to recall the years we had together. The times we went scuba diving, the times we worked on his car together. I have to remember our ski trips and how much he loved to snowboard and how we used to make and eat sushi for dinner. All I have for my dear beloved only son is memories and photographs of him. And I worry, as I get older will the memories fade. I will never forget his laughter or his love for Daisy and Daphne – every morning when he arose (sometimes around noon) he would go and lay down on my bed and hug them and pet them and tell them he loved them – they looked forward to that special time. I remember him putting this set of fake wax lips in his mouth that Nicole got in a gift to make us all laugh in the car. I remember how we would be on a boat after scuba diving and he would talk about the amazing colors of the fish and the vast openness and textures of the coral. And he loved to eat. I would watch how he would eat this amazing gelatto that Nicole brought home from Via Vanitti, it was probably his favorite treat in the world and it was like an outer body experience to watch him eat it and guess the flavors. He loved The Cheesecake Factory and P.F. Chang’s, and asked me to cook items from their menu’s when he was home, which I was more than glad to do. I remember him being adventurous with his food as well. When we went out for my birthday a couple of years ago to my favorite Peruvian restaurant, he ordered skewed cow heart with onions and fries. It was amazingly good. I remember him smiling when he came off the ice after each and every ice hockey game he played it – win or lose. I remember him making his friends and teammates laugh in the locker before and after games – even his coaches laughed. He would sneak into pictures I was taking for my ebay clients, and more than once. This is what I have of my son – memories. There are no new memories, there are no new birthdays, there are no new pictures. I still can not believe he is really gone. He is the child that will forever be in my heart.
I hope that people can understand and somehow accept this. Yes, we do still have two children, and always will.
“One child is forever in my arms, and the other is forever in my heart”
And they were and always will be best friends.
credit: I have to give credit for the inspiration and some terminology of this post to one of my bereavement groups. One of the ladies who lost her child talked about this at a meeting a while ago and I have had it on my mind ever since. Thank you.
Published on: Mar 2, 2014
Is my son at peace – really?
One thing I am having a hard time is the question of is Andrew at peace.
I speak to people all the time about Andrew and generally everyone says Andrew is in a better place. They say he is in heaven, and that he is at peace. He is with G-d, he is with my father whom he never met before, and he is with poppy whom he loved and cared for dearly. He is with all those who passed before him that he never had the chance to meet, as well as those he did know during the short period of time that was his life. They say that in heaven, you are happy, you are at total peace, everything is peaceful, you have no worries, it is paradise.
People general also say that he is with us, all of us – Dorothy, Nicole, me. He is with Grandma, Bubby, Greg and Todd, Wally and Matt , Jovi and Jay. He is here, he is watching over us, he is taking care of us. He gives us signs and protects us, all while being at peace in heaven.
But I have a question. One that has haunted me for months. One that i am just stuck on.
Andrew can see the pain and grief that we are all going through. He can see Dorothy crying herself to sleep, or waking up in the middle of the night crying. He can see me crying in my office every single day, finding it hard to concentrate and focus. He can see how we are struggling to make it through day by day without him. He can feel how his closest friends miss him and pain for him. He sees Grandma crying for him in church every day. He sees all of this pain that his passing has caused on this earth. How can he be happy and at peace with all this pain here on earth, wherever his soul is now.
I know he did not cause his own passing, he took what he was told to take by his doctors. I know it was a medical issue that no one could have foreseen and no one could have prevented. It was not his fault, it was not the doctors fault, it was not anyone’s fault, he just died. He went to sleep, and very peacefully his life ended. It just ended. I don’t blame him for his passing, no one does – I love him too much for that. No one blames anyone, it just happened.
But how can he really be at peace? He must be in pain, crying himself, just to see all of us in so much pain. He is such a sensitive being, such a sensitive soul, how can he just not be effected by the pain here on earth and be at peace as everyone says he is. I love him so much, and I want him to be at peace, I want his time in heaven to be peaceful and I want all those good things I hear about heaven to be so for my son.
How can we do this, how can we make this happen? I don’t know. Maybe no one knows. You see movies like Ghost, and realize maybe it is letting him go to bring him peace. I read poems like the one’s below and think about letting go, if I can. Maybe we have to learn from his passing, maybe we have look at what he had and be thankful. But what is letting go? I can’t just let go of my son. I can’t let go of his hand, I can’t let go of holding onto him in my thoughts. I will never let him go – but do I need to? Do I need to figure out how to let him go and start to live my life again? Would that disrespectful to his memory? I know he would want me to, he would want me to go on and live my life and still love and respect his memory.
We will never forget him, we can’t. We will never stop looking at his pictures or telling stories about him. His face, his voice, the way he smells after a shower, his love will never ever be forgotten. Not by just us, but hopefully many will always remember him. But maybe I can learn to let go of his hand. Maybe I can learn to let go of his collar and let him move to a place he needs to be in to be at peace. And maybe that will let me move to a place I can be at peace as well. I just don’t know.
I have to think more, open myself up more, and eventually write more about this when I figure it out. This is just the beginning.
These are all poems/images from facebook that I have read and make me think.
Published on: Mar 8, 2014
The Last Words
This is a little bit different than my normal posts. It not about Andrew, or our loss of him. It is about the last words, the final words. The other night at our bereavement group, one of the mothers who lost her boy last year was terribly upset. She cried and sobbed over the loss of her son openly. But really what bother her and what gave her grief was the last words they spoke. He apparently did some physically toiling, sweaty work outside and was going out that night with friends without showering. She asked him to shower, she implored him to, but all he said was that he did not care and was late for his friends – he twisted his baseball cap around and headed out the door. As he was running out, she verbally expressed her disappointment with him, quite specifically and with expression, and he was gone. Not just gone from the house that night, but gone from her life forever – he passed without making it home that night.
And all she could think about, and what she has to live with the rest of her life was that last remark, that last sentence, that last voice of frustration. And it burns inside of her and is a constant terrible source or pain and anguish. She could not take the words back, she can not now or ever explain those words. And she is not alone.
Another family we know had a similar situation. I do not recall the exact situation, nor the stimulant that caused the friction, nor who said what last, but that there where words said, feelings hurt, and their son left the house, left his home, and they did not talk for weeks afterward – each waiting for the other to break the silence, each waiting for the other to maybe apologize, each waiting for the other to grow up. But that never happened. Their son passes as well – the silence never broken, but now the silence is forever. The frustration over those last words is forever.
We talked about this and two points came up.
One thing you can take from this is that your children are your most precious things in life. How can you fight with them and let it go unresolved. How can you let them leave the house frustrated, upset, mad? You never know if the words will be your last. I have heard many times that one of the secrets to a long lasting happy marriage is that you never go to bed upset or mad at your spouse. Then how can you possibly let your child, who is so much more fragile and sensitive than your spouse, leave you when they are upset. How can you let them turn and walk away? How can’t you call them or text them or reach out to them and offer a settlement, so that you may both go to sleep happy – never knowing if it is the last time they will go to sleep.
Can you live the rest of your life with what you said to them the last time they left your side?
But – we are also parents. We have to nurture and encourage them. We have to guide them and teach them. We have to set them straight when they drift, we have to discipline them when they break the rules, and we have to treat them like adults when they act like babies. That sometimes includes saying things to them that might hurt, that might offend or bother them, that may include raising our voices to them, it might include walking out of the room and not giving in. That is all about being a parent and raising good, compassionate, trustworthy, righteous children. No parent can raise a child without discipline, without being a parent, without ruffling a few feathers now and again. Without pissing our dearly loved children off once in a while. And then walking away to let our children think about it, and hopefully coming to the right decision using the tools that we provided them with during their upbringing.
That is the potential quandary that every parent faces. The two parents I mentioned above know that what they did was right. They have come to peace with themselves and what happened between them and their sons. They know that they were being parents – good parents. They know what they did was right for their child. They know that their boys are not resentful or upset where they are now. They know that their boys are at peace with themselves and with their parents. But it still hurts. It hurts like hell. Knowing that the last conversation was not one of love and happiness, but one of being a parent.
Every time your child walks away from you, every time he or she leaved the house, every time you say goodbye, every time you hang up that phone, look at them and think about it. Are you being their friend? are you being their mother or father? Are you being a disciplinarian? Are they leaving you upset and is their cause for that upset? Or did you just have a bad day at work and taking it out on them? And a minute later, maybe an hour, maybe a day, can it be repaired?
Is there an answer? Absolutely not. It is good that almost none of you will pre-decease you children. That people will pass in the correct order. But as I write this, I come across another thought. What do you want your children’s last thoughts of their parents to be? What do you want the last conversation that you have with your children to be about? How do you want it to end? So when you walk away, walk into that bright light, what will they remember?
Prologue – I know that when I was sixteen my father drove me to school in the dead of winter. We talked about the lawn and about the garden coming back in spring. We smiled and laughed. He pulled up to the school, drove to the last door, i leaned over, kissed him goodbye, and got out of the car. I was happy, but my father never saw the spring. But I was happy. I am at peace.
Published on: Mar 14, 2014
Why? Why mine?
Andrew was a great kid – really. He was fun to be around, he smiled all the time, never talked ill about anyone, always saw the positive side of life. So why did G-d take him from us? Why did G-d decide not to let our son live out his years on earth with us. Tyler as well – a great high school student who was taken way too early. And Mark and Kaitlyn, Jeffrey and Patrick, and so many more.
This is the ultimate question that every parents asks when they lose a child. Why did G-d choose to take my child and not the next one? Why did He not let my son live to be a ripe old man, live to let him see his children married, and live to enjoy his grandchildren? We see bad people, thieves, murderers, ungrateful people, users, wife-beaters, and they live their whole lives out, maybe some of it in jail, but they get the opportunity to live. They get to be alive for so many years. Any yet, our children do not. And all we want to know is why.
When they are taken, they leave such a void, they leave such pain and anguish behind. How can G-d watch the funeral of a child and then take another child. How can he see the mother of a 21 year old throw herself on her only son’s casket crying, and yet turn a blind eye and take another son from another mother. How can he watch the baby who lives only seven hours, held by his parents the whole time, read to, talked to, and then take that baby and move on. How does He do this time after time.
Was it my fault? Was it something I said or did some time that caused this? Did I upset him, or did I not live a good pious life, was I not enough of a mench, did I not give enough charity? Parents always ask that and dread that it was their fault.
To those parents who ask that, as well as myself, that is a question we can actually answer. No. And it took me, as well as many others, a while to come to that conclusion You are not being punished, you did not cause your child’s death by upsetting the Almighty. No matter what you said, what you thought, what you did or didn’t do, you didn’t cause it, you had no control over it. Even if I did something wrong, and G-d decided to punish me – He would have to look around and see the consequences of His action. If He were punishing a single person, then the collateral damage would not be so wide spread and devastating. He would have to see bubby and grandma, Andrew’s grandmothers, crying and grieving so hard every single day. He would have to see the pain that his cousins are in from losing such a happy part of their family. He would have to see his mother not being able to sleep at night, and crying whenever she thinks of her dear sweet son she held in her arms not so many years ago. How could G-d punish one person, and cause so much grief to others? Don’t blame yourself – as we have learned not to blame ourselves. It is a long hard road to travel to realize that and to understand that, but a road that we all must travel in order to be at peace with the question of Why.
The other answer to this is faith. I know Andrew is in a different place now. I don’t know where, I don’t know why, I know nothing of it. But I have faith that he is somewhere. He is with his loved one’s who passed before him. He is talking to poppy about the garden. He is talking to Keith about college. He is talking to my father telling him how his son turned out. I am sure he is arguing with Einstein about something he missed. But I know in my heart he is somewhere. I don’t know why I think this, but it is faith. It brings me peace, it brings us all peace.
If there was nothing, just a body that died, that my son was buried, and we put up a headstone one day and that is it, then it would hurt so much more. If he just died and nothing of his essence, nothing of his soul, nothing of his compassion moved on, then I would be devastated. But I know that is not the case. I know he moved on, he left his body, he left that dark hole in the ground and moved somewhere else. All that I taught him, all that he knew about helping others and all that was him had to end up somewhere, and he had to take that all with him. All I have is my faith that that has happened. As we all have that faith in anyone who has moved on. They have simply moved to another dimension, another level of consciousness, another place that we can not understand yet. But they are somewhere, and we can rest easy knowing that. We can live out the rest of our lives knowing that one day we will be with them again and we will hug them and talk to them again. One day we might understand more. And that brings us peace and enables us to let go. It enables us to talk about them, to relish in the lives they had, and to know we are okay.
You ask – why? I answer because we have the faith to let them go. We have the faith that they are somewhere and at that they are peace. That is all I can offer.
You ask – why mine? I can’t answer that. But I can tell you it was not your fault. There was nothing you could do to save them. There was nothing you did that caused them to pass. And that you have the faith and strength to believe that – truly believe that.
If you agree, if you do have the faith, if you are at peace, please leave a comment and let others know – it truly helps so many. If you know someone who blames themselves, please pass this on to them in the hopes it will help them.
Published on: Mar 23, 2014
I’ve learned to listen differently
A few weeks ago I was with a colleague, Sara (not her real name) who lost an employee in a car accident. This employee and Sara had grown pretty close over the few years he worked for her, and she was understandably pretty upset when he passed. We were talking for a few minutes when she said that she knew how I felt losing Andrew, and went on to tell me about the death of her employee, and how it was similar to me losing Andrew. She told me how he called her mom sometimes because she had taken him in and taught him so much. I just smiled, wished her a lovely day and left, as my business was done.
I was pretty freakin livid. I think you can understand why. She compared her employee of three years, no relationship, not family, nothing, and losing him in a car crash, to the loss of my son, my only son, of twenty one years. Was she that disingenuous, that much removed, that much of the lack of understanding to make this comparison? I went across the street to another client, who happens to be a very close friend and told him what had happened. He was as upset as I was, he stood in the same corner as I in thinking how could she possibly be so removed from reality to make this comparison. It took a few weeks to get this out of the front of my mind, but I eventually moved on, until I told the story to Rich, a coach who I have been friends and a teammate with for many years.
He heard a different conversation with Sara that I had heard. And he expressed it to me, he told me what he thought of what she said. He actually made me think about not what she said, but why she said it. Not about the content, but the cause. And it hit me, maybe I was just not listening the right way.
Sara was reaching out to me in any way she can. She had not experienced the loss of her own child, thankfully. But she wanted to say something and connect to me in some way, and this was her attempt to do it. She meant no ill will by it, didn’t mean to hurt me or compare herself to me, and more importantly, didn’t mean to minimize my loss. It was just a way of her reaching out to me in my grief and connecting to me in some way.
I look at that conversation very differently now. Although it still hurts when people compare their loss of a cousin, or their parent, or a young friend, to the loss of my son, I now realize that it is done innocently and they are attempting to help me, Thank you.
In the same vein as this, there is also the times I have to hear people say we are strong. And that we are strong to survive this tragedy. And the same lesson I have learned above helps us get through that comment. If you have made that comment to us, please do not be offended, we so much appreciate hearing that, and we really appreciate that you are reaching out to us.
But…we are not that strong. We cry every day. We find it hard to eat a meal and enjoy it because we feel guilty. We don’t ever feel like going out and just want to stay home and be with each other, and Nicole. Some of our friends are taking us out for lunch or dinner, and that is really good for us and we so much enjoy going out with them. We get to talk to them about life and have a nice meal with them. Not because we are strong, but because we need to. Not because we are strong, but because we need to live and talk about Andrew, and remember him with others. Not because we are strong, but because we have no choice.
We are still here, Nicole is still here, Our mothers and nephews and niece are still here. We need to work and eat and live some sort of life. Yes, it probably takes strength to get out of bed every morning, and some days we just can’t. Some days after work we go to bed after dinner, turn off the phones, shut down e-mail, and leave everyone alone because we just don’t have the strength to do anything or talk to anyone. But we know there is tomorrow, and we have to get up, go to work, talk to people and, as I hate to say it, be strong.
Are we strong? Is everyone who has lost a child and is still functioning, strong? Or are we just surviving, and the strength that we get from our lost children to continue living our lives make us appear to be strong.
I know I find strength to keep going from Andrew and Nicole and Dorothy. I know my son wants me to live my life and to enjoy life, and do the things he and I never got to do together, even as he has left me. I know that Nicole brings me strength and love every single day by being there for me, by telling me how much she enjoys life and college, and how much she is looking forward to things in the future. Events that I want to and need to be here for. And I find strength from Dorothy seeing how she is handling this day by day, how she still manages to go to work every day and function, and how she still cares for her mom all the time. I also find strength in writing my journal, that I hope is helping people, not just those of us who have suffered the worst loss imaginable, but those of you who try to relate to us, try to reach out to us and be our friends – hopefully my journal opens your eyes as to what we are going through and how much you are helping us. That is where my strength comes from.
Published on: Mar 27, 2014
Does she remember?
I look at her in her eyes and ask her if she misses Andrew.
She looks back at me emotionless with her brown eyes.
I ask her is she remembers playing with him every single morning.
I ask her if she remembers all the joy that he brought her and that she brought him.
She stares back at me, maybe tilting her head.
I ask her if she cries over Andrew like I do every single day.
I ask her if she is sad at all for not having Andrew around any more.
She stares back at me and wags her tail.
That is all she knows.
Sometimes I am jealous of Daphne in that respect. She feels no sadness, not remorse, no pain. Her memory is but a brief time period. Does she remember the times she ran and played with Andrew out in the snow? Does she remember swimming with him in the lake, or pulling the paddle boat while we all laughed and cheered her on?
Does she remember how much he loved her and Daisy. That he cried all night when Daisy passed, just a few brief weeks before Andrew passed. We were all so devastated. Whenever Andrew called home, he always asked how the dogs were – then he would ask us everything else. The first thing he did when he got home was to sit and play with them for such a long time – then out with his friends, and they would wait for him by the window at night. They would often sleep with him that first night, even on the floor, they were so happy their friend had come home. They sat outside his door and waited for his leftovers when he ate dinner at two in the morning. We would often find plates in the hallway – perfectly clean.
When we traveled, Andrew and Nicole always brought them food from breakfast – way too much, but they loved it and ate every morsel. From french toast to eggs to crumb cake to donuts – nothing was off limits for their special travel breakfasts. We never had to ask twice for someone to take them out, both kids where eager to walk them and run with them. Andrew had pictures of them on his desk, and on his phone and on his computer background. They were such a part of his life. I have so many pictures of Andrew and Nicole with the dogs and cats, we can never forget them. Daisy was also my best friend and companion.
When we did our last family holiday card, the last one when we were a full family, Daisy and Daphne got included, instead of mom and dad, but we were happy – everyone in the picture was so happy. You can see the love in all of their eyes.
We don’t have Daisy anymore. As some of you know, she is with Andrew now, buried in his arms, next to his heart. I am sure they are playing and running and sleeping together where ever they are. Maybe waiting for Daphne to join them again some day.
But does she know? I don’t think so. She is blessed with a short memory, she does not cry over him, she does not miss him. Sometimes she goes into his room and sniffs around, jumps on his bed, smells his clothes, but then wags her tail and carries on. Life is so simple and happy for her. Feed her, walk her, play with her, love her – that is all she needs – and that is what the kids gave her – unconditional love.
Sometimes I am jealous of Daphne, she has no sorrow, she has no pain.
But I also feel sorry for her, I sometimes pity her. She does not remember the love and the compassion and the friendship that Andrew gave her and that she gave him. She does not have those amazing memories of them playing in the snow or in the lake. She does not remember my son. I don’t think I would be able to go on if I did not have so many memories that keep my son alive.
I sit here and cry and look at her – and she just wags her tail and tells me she loves me.
Published on: Apr 4, 2014
I used to…
I used to worry about him, where he was, what he was doing, who he was with. Is he okay?
Now I cry over him. I don’t see him any more, I can’t call him, I can’t hug him. I don’t know where he is.
I used to wonder of what he would be when he grows up, what would he do for a living. Would he be successful, would he enjoy his career, would he take over my business eventually. Like every other parent I was concerned with where was he going to end up in life.
Now I only think about what he was like when he was a little boy. I think about his birthday parties and his hockey. I think about what he used to enjoy, the toys that he used to play with, and I hold onto some of his things that he left behind in my hands, and cry.
I used to call him Thor mostly, sometimes Booboo, and sometimes Andrew. He was my son, my one and only son. I would tell him he was my son, and that I was very proud of everything he did and everything he accomplished, as my father was of me.
I find it hard to even say his name now without crying.
I used to think about what he loved and enjoyed doing and his passions. Where he wanted to travel to – Italy, Israel, Amsterdam. Where he would go snowboarding in the future, where his kids would learn to ski, where he would settle down and call home. I think about next summer when we were planning to go to Mexico to learn to surf together.
Now all I can think about is what he will be missing, and what he will never get to do because his life was cut so short. The things that my son will never experience.
I used to have stuff in my office that had to be sent to him, a pair of sunglasses, a computer cable, headphones, clothes. He always liked receiving packages. Whatever I sent him made him happy.
Now I keep his most treasured personal stuff on my desk – his headphones he always used, a set of rocks and gems he was collecting in Boulder for me because he knew I loved them, his colorful gauges (sort of earrings) that he changed every day, his huge assortment of tongue barbells and balls he loved to show off in pictures, and his wallet.
I keep his glasses nearby because that is what he looked through to see the world, he saw the world in his own unique way, we all remember him in his Ray Bans. These were the things that made Andrew Andrew. I look at them everyday and the they make me smile and remind me of him. They remind me he had a full happy colorful life.
I should be shopping for a suit to wear to his graduation next month, talking to him about a school ring, and framing his diploma. Hugging him as he moves on to the next phase of his life with the whole world ahead of him.
Instead, I am writing down his Hebrew name and shopping for his headstone, something a father should never have to do. Hoping what we pick out he would have liked.
I just miss my booboo so much, he touched so many lives in positive ways and he will be so missed by so many people.
But as with all of my fellow grieving parents, as we say so often, I choose to continue. I choose to get up every day, get out of bed, and continue on with my life. I choose to live on despite the overwhelming grief. I choose to spend great quality time with Nicole. I can even choose once in a while to laugh, to have a good time, to enjoy a nice glass of wine, or enjoy a nice dinner with friends. Nicole chooses to carry on and play hockey and honor Andrew by wearing his jersey number. We choose to live on in Andrew’s honor, in his memory. I carry him with me everywhere I go, in everything I do, and every word i speak, He is always with me and on my mind, but I do choose to carry on knowing that is what he would want me and Dorothy and Nicole to do.
He didn’t have a choice, he was taken without warning or say. But those of us left behind do have a choice, and Andrew, as well as all of our lost children, would want us to live on and enjoy our lives – despite the grief. We will never forget them, ever. The hole in our hearts never ever mends. But we choose to live on in their honor and in their memory – that is the best we can do for them now.
I love you Andrew
I love you Nicole.
There are no new Memories – Stories of Andrew
Published April 11, 2014
We often tell stories of Andrew – not in the past, but in the present. We often say “if Andrew where here…” or “you know Andrew would do this or that if he were here.” It is our way of holding onto the memories of him as well as keeping him in the forefront of our minds, as he always is.
Just last week, Dorothy and I went to Smashburger in White Plains for the first time. Yea, we had a moment of weakness and desired a good juicy burger. It brought back the memory that one of the last lunches I had with Andrew and Jovi was at the Five Guys in Boulder, it was the first time any of us had been to a Five Guys, although we passed it hundreds of times. We were amazed at the size of the burgers and took pictures of them, and of ourselves, and sent them to Dorothy. We had a good time that meal, talked about Boulder and what a good time we had had for the past week or so together.
Back at Smashburger, they gave us our food and the receipt, and on the bottom of the receipt the cashier pointed out that if we go on-line with our smartphone and fill out a short survey, and we can get a free side. So we casually ate, talked about Nicole and Andrew, and filled out the survey, got the code and I went up for our free side. To my surprise, I got the receipt for the side, amount due was $0, but on the bottom of the new receipt was a chance to fill out another survey and get another free side!
Ok, now for those of you who knew Andrew, tell me that this would not start a long hilarious challenge for him to accumulate an entire large bag full of free sides? Can’t you just see him saying “this is so stupid” – as he fills out another survey and gets another free side order and another receipt with the survey on it? I could picture Matt or Wally or Todd sitting at the table as Andrew piles up the free sides. Dorothy and I sat there, smiled and laughed as we though about what our dear little boy would do.
I hope this brings a smile to someone’s face just picturing him going back to get his numerous free sides, as he laughs and shakes his hands in disbelief. That was Andrew. It brought one to our faces for a time.
I got this message from Andrew back in August, 2011 – it shows his compassion and how he really loved animals:
“dad – hi can you do me a favor, well its for my friend’s dog june who’s 1 and a half and has a birth defect and needs another surgery that his family doesn’t think they can afford its real expensive, http://www.giveforward.com/savejune-bug, that’s the site for his dog, a lot of our friends are donating a little to him and i wanted to give him something for her, i really like her and it’s the right thing to do. he’s also giving me a set of trucks for free for the other long board that i have so i can use it when I’m home, he didn’t want any money for them just for me to donate to june.
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Save-June-Bug/137368123019122 that’s the page on facebook that you should like and if you can post something on facebook with or about it so people see, you have friends that would care about it, or possibly donate, there were a lot of anonymous donations on that site.
We of course donated to help June. Unfortunately, on August 27, 2011, Junebug passed away. Andrew called me from school and told me – he was very upset and I could hear it in his voice. We talked a while about our pets and although he was happy to know they were well, the loss of a friends pet really effected him. He loved jubebug and was upset any time an animal died. This is why one of the charities we chose for him was one to save and protect animals.
He was a funny kid as well When I posted a picture of me on a motorcycle on facebook, and said I wasn’t really going to buy one, he sent me this text: “oh i know, not only is it about 25k but i know mommy would kill you before the bike does – lol, but its really nice”
We went to see Nicole this weekend and she told us, in a very happy and laughing manner, about her last shopping expedition with Andrew. They went to buy sneakers together, not necessarily the same one’s, but they both needed new sneaker. For years, Andrew had worn white sneakers, just white, several different brands, but white. Recently he has changed that to include some colorful one’s, pairs to go skateboarding, and the fact he lived in Boulder, where everyone has some color of some sort.
After one or two stores, and looking at dozens and dozens of pairs, none of them fit what he was looking for. The ended up in Vans. Nicole described the wall of sneaker choices as massive, the length of the store. Andrew walked up and down the wall and looked and looked, picked up a few pairs, inspected them, and returned them to the shelf – Nicole all this time losing her patience. He would pick up a pair, look at it from every angel and imagine how he would look in them – just like he did with flannel shirts and blue jeans. This went on for some time, it seems like hours the way Nicole describes it.
He finally picked out a pair – and with all the choices, all the colors, patterns, laces – he picks out a solid gray pair of sneakers. He tries them on and looks at himself from every angle in the mirror to make sure they make the right statement about him. We are never sure what that statement is, but I guess they made it because he bought that gray pair. And to our surprise, Nicole purchased the same pair.
I am not sure if it came with sneakers or not, but they also got matching Vans t-shirts. So the sneakers and t-shirts matched – which I think this was the very first time that they actually bought something that matched. But I guess something caught Andrew’s eyes, and never to pass up the ability to buy something computer related, he also bought these cool 4″ square cardboard box PC speakers – I have been using them now for a few months.
I am happy that they had the experience together, and Nicole shared it with us while we all laughed and imagined Andrew walking up and down a row of hundreds of sneakers until he found the one that he identified with. Solid gray, simple sneakers.
These are just a few memories of Andrew. And unfortunately, there are no new memories of him. What we have in our minds now, what we have pictures of, what we have thought about, that’s it. There is nothing new, there will never be any new memories that we experienced with him, the number is set in stone and will forever be.
What we do ask, and we have really never asked his friends for much, is this. If you have a memory or a story or a anecdote or anything about Andrew, can you please post it in the comments below? We would love to add to our memories of him, and to be able to share stories about Andrew that we do not know yet. I know it might be hard, for I am sure it will be hard for us to read, but this will serve as a tribute to him for others to read and share. If it is personal, you can email it to me, or post it anonymously, but please do write something.
Thank you, Dorothy, Nicole and I really appreciate it.
I don’t know how to end this entry of memories.
I just miss my booboo so much, he touched so many lives in positive ways and he will be so missed by so many people.
I love you Andrew.
Published on: Apr 19, 2014
The Path….and The Wall
Everyone is on a path in life, and all of the decisions we make in life change that path, or we can say that the path is created by our decisions. I tend to believe that most people start out on a nice peaceful path, leading to a happy, healthy life. But then reality settles in.
We are a smart species, so we make decisions looking long-term – we decide to go to the doctor to stay healthy, we decide to go to school or college, get educated, and hope that adds wealth and security somewhere along our path. We hope for love and happiness in the pursuit of marriage and eventually children. But we all make decisions about where we are on the path and where we want our separate paths to lead in life.
And every day, every hour we walk that path. We put one foot in front of the other and we walk our path, hoping for the best.
This is the bad part. The unexpected part. The unfortunate part. We get ill. Our company goes bankrupt. We get into a serious accident. Our child gets gravely ill. There is a fire. There is a flood. There is a murderer. And this all effects our perfectly planned out path. They put road blocks up, diversions, cones, and yield signs on our paths. But we still, day after day, follow that path in hopes for the best. In hopes that happiness and joyfulness will be around the next curve in the path. And for most of us, there is.
Then there are those who’s feet have stopped. Those who no longer can see the path. The grieving parents of lost children. Our children’s paths were much too short, just a few hours long. Some paths, like Derek’s, lasted only seven hours. But he was loved and held and read to for his entire life. The mark he left on this world in his short time will never leave or be forgotten. Or Matthew’s path that ended tragically at 21 while teaching and helping others enjoy the outdoors, which he loved so much. Or Jeff’s path, an accomplished, gifted, and successful glass blower, that ended on Storrow Drive in a tragic motorcycle accident. Or Andrew’s path, my Andrew, who’s path ended while quietly asleep in his bed. And the list goes on an on, unfortunately. These are the parents who’s feet have stopped moving forward. These are the people who have come to a pause in their lives, and their paths. The pain of knowing their children’s paths have ended is so overwhelming that we, yes I put myself in that category, we, can not take another step.
Someone has put a wall in front of us. This is a common story told among grieving parents to those who recently lost a child. There is a wall. A wall of pain, a wall of suffering. A wall so large and onerous that you can not simply go around it – it is too wide. You can not go over it – it is too tall. It can not be dug under or avoided. You must go through it. You might put it off with anger, or depression. But the wall will be waiting for you and you must go through it. For some the wall is narrow, and they can go on and live and love and learn to enjoy life once again. For others the wall never seems to end, and although they are living, they are not really living life. For most of us, we do get through the wall, some how, but it takes years. But we do learn to live again, love again, and enjoy our lives and embrace what we had on our path before the wall. But it is a lifelong journey along our new path.
But – our feet won’t move us sometimes. We can’t take the steps to or through the wall. But we all seem to get to the wall, and work our way through it. And it takes years and years to get through the wall and see that there is a glimmer of light on the other side. How do we do this?
As Pam and Georgine put it, there is something, or someone, gently pulling us, gently guiding us along the new path we are on now. Yes, we are moving along the path again, but in a different manner now. Our paths have changed so much, we are such different people now that our feet do not know where to step. We know the path is there, but we can’t see it through our tears. So we are delicately pulled down the path by this force. And we willingly let it pull us. We know we must go on, we know we still have a path in life that we must follow, so we let this unknown, caring, loving force gently tug us and pull us along the path.
We rely on this gentle tugging to get us through the day. It is a warming, soothing feeling that we are being helped along. Sometimes our friends hold our hands and help us along the path with their love and friendship. Sometimes our children help us because we know they need us to move. We just follow along the path, day by day, with the smallest of baby steps. The smallest movement forward. Every step is a milestone, every movement is hard, but we keep going.
We know one day our paths will end as well. But at that cusp on the end of our paths, when we look back over our shoulders do we see black clouds, empty frames and broken cobblestones? Or do we see the other side of the wall that we have gotten through, do we see our friends and family smiling, do we know that we made a difference and that we honored our children’s memories and lived out our days they way they would want us to live our lives.
Published on: Apr 28, 2014
LIfe, Liberty, and…
I was in a different temple last night to say kaddish for Andrew, and the Rabbi there during the course of his speech talked about what we do in life, and that our life has to have meaning. He said that Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness is a great thought, and a great basis for the Declaration of Independence, But then he went on to say that although we all want Life, Liberty and Happiness, wouldn’t it be better if we had Life, Liberty and Meaning. He didn’t go into that much, he only touched on it and then went onto other ideas, but that thought stuck in my head all night.
Life and Liberty – we all pretty much get what that refers to, and although our thoughts on liberty might all be different, we know what liberty generally means. Whether you are a conservative, liberal, right, left, whatever, we all know what we want in life and we have our definition on liberty. I don’t want this to be a political platform, so enough said about that.
But meaning. That word hit me and I thought not only how it related to Andrew, but how it relates to all of us. How can someone who was taken from us so young, after only twenty one years, have meaning in their life? How can someone who only lasted on this earth a few years, or a few days have meaning in their life. What is meaning? Is it what Andrew found in his life that effected him and made him who he was? Was it that he became enlighten to some meaning and had some course in his life that was going to have meaning to himself? I don’t think so.
For anyone, even someone who makes it to seventy, eighty, or ninety, years of age, to have a meaningful life means that they had to effect/affect someone else’s life, or many people’s lives. They had to give meaning to someone else, or something else, they had to give meaning – not receive meaning.
The Rabbi at my sister’s temple, the priest at your church, the kindergarten teacher who taught our children, even Andrew’s hockey coach who taught them that the team is a family and will be forever – these are all people who all had a meaningful life, they gave some meaning to the people they touched in their lives, they had some positive influence over the people they touched. The volunteer at the animal shelter, the fireman who protects our lives, the people at the food pantry – these people all give of themselves – and in turn they all have a meaning in their lives.
But do we all have this meaning? Do some of us just go through life making it from one decade to the next? Do we make money and donate a portion of it and count that as our meaning in life. When someone donates millions of dollars to build a hospital wing – yea, their life had meaning. If someone donates $180 to build a well for water in Cambodia (https://www.facebook.com/10Wells), they have meaning in their lives because they did something good that will last for years to come.
How about the couple that has a child and gives that child up to a family that can not bear children? I think that is one of the best meanings in life that someone could have. Bringing joy to a family by means of a young baby is one of the greatest gifts of all.
Did Andrew have a meaning in life? I think he had so much meaning that one essay can’t capture it all. You’ll see in my ext journal….
He brought joy and happiness to our family. He made others smile and enriched the lives of so many other people. His friends tell us how Andrew would sit and listen to them for hours talk about their lives and their problems, and then when they were done he would respond back to them and make them feel so much better. I am not sure what he said, or how he processed what his friends told him, but he seemed to have a gift of giving some meaningful feedback that made others realize their problems were not so big. This is what he wanted to do in life. This was probably his calling, and definitely his meaning in life.
He also brought love and peace to some people. He rescued some from what would have been not such a nice life. He showed some people that a caring therapist could really help people, and those people are now pursuing a degree in psychology or psycho-therapy so that they have meaning in their lives.
G-d puts us all here for a purpose. We have to have some meaning in our lives. There are plenty of people’s lives that do not have meaning, or they choose not to have a meaningful life. But most of us do. And we need to, it fulfills us. It makes us whole, it gives us satisfaction. We volunteer, we teach, we coach, we donate, we guide, we mentor. We touch other lives. This is meaning.
When we pass, and others look back at the path we chose to take, will they look at that path and say this person was a good person, he was a mensch, – he had a meaningful life. When I look at my son’s path, I am happy. It was much too short, but it was a meaningful path.
I don’t know who said this, I heard it in a video:
“If your not making someone else’s life better, then your wasting your time.”
What will they say when they look at your path? Or mine?
More about the meaning of Andrew’s life in the next entry…