Monthly Archives: April 2014

LIfe, Liberty, and…

andrew in helmutI 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.

andrews wellBut 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 (, 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…

The Path….and The Wall

The PathEveryone 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.

thThen 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.

holding handsWe 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.


There are no new Memories – Stories of Andrew

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:

junebug“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,, 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. 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.
love you”

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.


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.


Andrew’s colorful collection

IMG_20140404_114258_919I 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 wear 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.

andrew hockeyDSC_9806

I love you Andrew.
I love you Nicole.