What happened…

It has been two and a half years now – two and a half long years.

I meet people every so often who do not know about my son. Some of them are new clients, new friends, new colleagues. Some are old friends or Andrew’s teammates we have not heard from or seen in years. Whatever the situation, they don’t know, and it is so uncomfortable to tell them face-to-face. It puts them in an understandingly very difficult position and I can see that.

So this is written for you – my new friend, my new client, my old friend who just does not know, or who has not had the courage to, or who has had the compassion not to ask me what happened.

The bottom line is that on August 25th, 2013, my son, Andrew, went to sleep. Just like any other night. He crawled into bed, watched television, took his meds, and went to sleep. But he never woke up. He passed very quietly in his sleep due an unforeseen reaction to the medications he was on. His breathing became more and more shallow during the night, and eventually his lungs shut down. There was no pain, no suffering, he just passed very quietly. We have done a lot of work on this for the past two years, and through talking to many doctors, the medical examiner, an attorney, and others, we have come to accept the fact that no one was at fault. There were no known interactions to what he was on. There were no red flags. No one messed up on a dosage. It was a combination of the stress of school starting the next day, the lower level of resistance he faced because of the kidney issues, and the fact that he was pretty thin kid. It was just a bad combination of factors that caused his body to react to the medications.

This is the story of his last few days. It is personal, and tells a lot about him that most people do not know. But I felt it was important to tell this story about my son.

AndrewJovi

Andrew and Jovi. They were always happy when they were together.

Andrew was entering his senior year at Colorado University at Boulder (CU Boulder). He loved the school; he loved living in Boulder with its 360-degree views of the Rocky Mountains, and most of all he loved to go snowboarding almost every weekend at Vail. He had made a few close friends there, but most of all he loved Jovi, with whom he was living with for two years.

We had a great time most of that last summer as a family. We sat and talked by Andrew’s outdoor fire pit, we took walks with the dogs, went out to dinner quite often, and hung out together. Andrew worked for me during the summer, visited my clients and resolving their issues, and spent time with his friends. During the summer he was unfortunately involved in a roll over accident with my truck, and because the officer found his bottle of Concerta in the truck, he issued Andrew a summons. He was prescribed the medication for his ADD. He took the proper dose, and kept the bottle with him so if he was out he would not miss his medication, and the medication was still in the original bottle with his name on it – but the officer felt compelled to give him a summons for it. Did he have to? Or was he being a prick? We will never really know. Andrew showed no signs of being under the influence of anything. The accident was in the afternoon on a wet winding road. The toxicology results from the urine sample they took when they issued him the summons that came back months later showed that there was a very low dose of Concerta in his system – well under the therapeutic range, and nothing else in his system. Whatever his motivation was, the officer issued him a summons. This really bothered Andrew and caused a certain level of stress. We hired an attorney, pleaded innocent, and we were all pretty confident that the charges were going to be dismissed once we had our day in court – but the stress and aggravation that it caused Andrew was still there hanging over his head.

A few weeks later I brought Andrew back to Boulder – on August 12th, 2013. I stayed in a lovely local artsy hotel that Dorothy and i had been at many times before. Andrew stayed in his apartment with Jovi. His lease was up that week and we had to move out of the old apartment, but the new place would not be ready for a few days. So we loaded everything into a rented U-Haul, parked it on the street, rented another car, and the three of us spent several days traveling and hanging out in the Boulder area. It really was a nice vacation for all of us. We sat at the pool, went out to eat every meal at a different place, and went to the movies. We talked a lot about school, about what he wanted to do when he graduated, and Jovi talked about how happy she was that Andrew was back.

Andrew was pretty relaxed that week. He was with Jovi, who brought him love, and she also brought him a sense of peace.

Unfortunately, Andrew also had kidney problems. Over the past three years, he had a couple of instances of kidney stones, inflamed and infected kidneys. He was on a mild pain killer for the pain, as well as an anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and something to help his kidneys function better than they were. He had been in and out of the hospital for kidney stones, countless urologist appointments here and in Boulder, and was dealing with it as best he could. Dorothy or I made many trips out to Boulder to take him to the doctor, or to spend time with him when he had the stones blasted out of his system. It was a long hard road for him to travel, as well as for us to see him in the pain his kidneys caused him. He tried to be strong about it, not wanting to take a semester off of school, and not wanting to worry Dorothy and I too much.

We finally got them into the new apartment. He was happy, she was happy; school was starting in a few days. Jovi went to spend a few days with her mom so Andrew could get his schoolbooks and focus on starting school. This gave Andrew and I time alone together. We went to get him a new skateboard he wanted, we went to the movies and had dinner together.

Andrew and I also went to see a major vendor of mine who had relocated part of their business to Denver. He met a few people in their technical support group, someone in quality control, and a manager, and after a couple of hours of meetings and talks about his knowledge of ACT!, he was offered an internship for the school year, which might lead to a permanent job upon graduation. It made him so happy, and it took so much pressure off of him for his senior year. He had such a big smile when we left their offices, he had to call mom right away to tell her. (Several months later, after we lost Andrew, the manager at Swiftpage sent us a company issued briefcase with their logo sewn on it – the briefcase that Andrew was supposed to get when he started working there the week after we lost him. It was very touching and I have it sitting on my night table to this day.)

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Andrew took a picture from the menu to send to Dorothy.

It was a great father-son few days we had together. The next morning I packed up, checked out, we did some food shopping, and had breakfast together. He asked me what the chicken fried steak was that he saw on the menu – and I told it how bad can breaded, deep fried steak be? It was the first time he ever had it and he absolutely loved it. I dropped him off at the apartment and headed home. I hugged him just like every other time I left. Little did I know.

He was so happy. School was starting in a day or two, he had to get some books, some other odds and ends for the apartment, and say hello to old friends.

He called home Friday evening with some news. He was riding his new skateboard and for some reason someone walked out in front of him, and to avoid hitting them he swerved and fell off the board, injuring his right hand. He was not sure how bad it was and decided to wait until morning. Morning came and it was hurting him a little more. After a visit to Boulder Community Hospital, the hand was put into a caste; he had broken his pinky and sesamoid bone (the little bone in the hand attached to the pinky). The hospital gave him another painkiller for the pain, another anti-inflammatory pill to keep the swelling down, and told him he should see an orthopedist on Monday to reset the bone better and recast it. The hospital knew all of the medications he was on; we can see that in the records. They knew this from their prior records, from the forms Andrew filled out, and from their on-line records. The list was very complete. He went home from the hospital Saturday afternoon, we talked a few times that night to check on him, he took his medications, all of them, and went to bed. He was doing okay.

IF

Hopefully the three of them are once again together, enjoying each others company as they always did here.

We talked Sunday as well. He told us he made sushi with the salmon and rice I had bought him that week. We bought him a new rice maker, sushi rolling mats and chopsticks that he was so happy to have. He rolled himself a few salmon and avocado rolls and had a very quiet peaceful night at home. Jovi was still away at her mom’s house and was coming home Tuesday or Wednesday.  Andrew called us, told Dorothy and I how excited he was for school to start, and that his senior year was going to be fun – especially now that he did not have to worry about a job later on. Who knew if it was going to lead to a job, but it made him happy to know the option was there. We said we loved him, he told us he loved us too, to kiss the dogs goodnight for him, and that misses everyone already. We hung up, and he went to sleep, for the last time.

 

21 thoughts on “What happened…

  1. Ned

    Perry, it is moving to learn about the final days of Andrew’s life and to know that Andrew had family support and connection to the end. I think your honest and strong words about Andrew’s last days and your family’s love for Andrew are a great tribute to him. Ned

    Reply
  2. Michelle

    This has been the hardest one to read, so I can’t imagine what it was like to write it. The photo of the breakfast menu hit me in the gut. That’s just the kind of thing my sons send me when they miss me. It’s a little slice of an ordinary day of a young man who was filled with hope and promise for his senior year. Reading this makes me want to call my family members to tell them that I love them. But like Andrew,, they already know they are loved.

    Reply
  3. Debbie Miron

    Dear Perry,

    You were right–this latest blog brought us closer to knowing Andrew. I’m so sorry for your loss. May his memory be a blessing. I’m looking forward to you launching your non profit… The organization will be a special non profit that will help make a difference in the lives of young athletes. Andrew will always be remembered…Thank you for sharing.

    With best regards,

    Debbie

    Reply
  4. Barbara

    No matter how many times you tell the story it makes me bleed for you and Dorothy. We are so fortunate to have each other, we all share the broken hearts that will never, ever heal.

    Reply
  5. Warren Tabachnick

    Perry,

    This story is told as only you could write it. I am deeply touched by the love and devotion you and your family shared with Andrew (as I’m sure you continue to share with Nicole).

    Reply
  6. Lindy Allen

    Thank you for sharing your incredible journey…..your honest and authentic words resonate in my heart…..I also have a son who passed and your writing tells it all…..the love, the horror of their passing before ours, the strength of going on (not easy)…..thank you for putting in to words what us bereaved parents feel so passionately……..XXOO………..

    Reply
  7. Adam

    This email really got to me.. had to read it to the Wife too… everyone feels your pain.. but life goes on… my Dad before he passed used to tell me in 100 years we’ll all be dust… but when he left us it effected so many people’s lives. I can’t say I look forward to your emails, but definitely NEED them to keep going in my live… reminds me how much we take for granted… Don’t think any of us will get over any Family losses but thanks so much for keeping me as a part of your very important network… so much that you write hits home. Just know that everyone loves Perry & Crew… you are the man… don’t know where a lot of people would stand if they didn’t get the chance to become your friend.. Hope you keep up your spirits like I said your emails always do something for me… thanks so much for being a friend…

    Reply
  8. Karen Fredricks

    Perry, thank you for sharing. I know this must have been extremely hard to write but hopefully is one more step in the healing process. Our kids are on such similar paths; my daughter is finishing her doctorate at DU and was working at the CU counseling center at the time of Andrew’s passing. We’ve probably visited the same restaurants on Pearl Street. Like Andrew she has medical issues and like Andrew she has been treating unfairly by the police. I can’t even begin to imagine the depth of your loss.

    Reply
  9. Susan H

    Thank you for you for sharing you story. Our son also died on August 25, 2013. Our son was killed in a fiery car crash at the hands of a drunk ‘friend’. Our son died on Sunday and he was suppose to go back to college on Monday. He never got to do that. Yes it’s been a long two and a half years. We miss him every day. So sorry for your loss.

    Reply
  10. Dru

    Beautiful story. It was especially good to hear how much you were able to be with him and share those ordinary moments. My daughter lived away from us and I so much miss those ordinary little moments. The last time we were with her was 5 weeks before she died, although we talked on the phone a lot.

    Reply
  11. Sheila

    Thanks for sharing. So very sorry for you loss. My daughter passed in 2009 She was 27 year’s old and I miss her every single day . My prayers to you and family.

    Reply
  12. Anne

    Perry, as always you have had the courage to share how much you loved Andrew. Your blog project is such a beautiful way to share your feelings. I love you for your work from the heart . As we all travel our personal journeys we sometimes forget that nothing is forever and guaranteed. Hug your kids and loved ones every chance you get.

    Reply
  13. Michael Scott

    ‘ve been far closer than I would have ever liked to be to parents losing a child. A best friend, my aunt. . . a few others I’ve known whose children have died. There are no words on earth big enough to express the level of grief it brings. There are likewise no words one can say to the parent that are “big” enough to express how much compassion is felt for you. Andrew sounds like he was a really awesome kid/guy. It also makes me, as a mom, say I love you even more often, and hug my dudes tighter. I may not know you well, Perry Grosser, but I send you prayers and a big virtual hug.

    Reply
  14. Susan wallace

    So emotional, Perry. I have to admit that I never knew the full story; so now I do. But, it doesn’t change anything except knowing how wonderful the days before were for all of you. That makes me happy. The inability to know what exactly happened would be one of the mist difficult things for me do deal with. It was very strong if you to share this story. God bless you.

    Reply
  15. Kathy and Walt christy

    Thanks so much for sharing , it must of been very hard to write . I am so glad you had some beautiful days with Andrew before his passing . I think of Dorothy , Nicole and you often and pray for your family, I know I do not take as much for granted anymore . God bless you and your family .

    Reply

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