We are getting into unknown and unexplored territory with Andrew now. Maybe unexplored is not the right word, but an area of his life that we really have no idea about.
When we lost Andrew, he was in his senior year of college. We actually lost him on the first day of classes of his senior year. For the weeks and months that followed, even though he was not here with us, we knew what he would be doing if he were here. We talked about how he would be doing in his senior year. We talked about the classes that he was in, about the places he would have gone to in Boulder to eat and shop, and about the times that he would have been home for vacations. We talked about his friends and what he would be doing with them at night and on the weekends.
During that first year we talked about things we knew would have happened. We talked about how he would have come to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving and brought his laundry home with him. In December Dorothy and I debated as to whether he would have come home with Jovi and spent the holidays with the family, or if he would have gone to Vail and spent the days skiing. In May we talked about his graduation ceremony that he would have walked in, dressed in his finest t-shirt and jeans under his cap and gown – just like high school. We would sit by his fire pit outside and know that he and his friends would have been sitting there joking around and talking about life and their cars.
Time went on. We knew that he would have been working in Denver during the summer. I still work with those people with whom he would have been working, and Andrew’s name comes up once in a while. He would have taken the bus every day to the office, dressed in his version of business casual, and maybe gotten a lift home from someone in the office a few times a week. Jovi would have been waiting for him, ready to talk about his day in the office, and talk about what she did during the day. I would have loved to watch him maybe get a promotion, move to a different department, learn something new at work. But it was not to be.
Some of his friends played hockey after graduation, I would like to think he would have as well. I am pretty sure he would have flown back to NY and he and I would have driven his little sports car that he loved so much back to Boulder where he was living for work. I would still go out there a few times a year to go skiing, and Dorothy and Nicole would go and visit him often as well. But we never got that opportunity.
But now it is past that. We have moved slowly, carefully, and regrettably into unfamiliar territory. We have very little idea as to what he would be doing now. Would he have stayed in school for his graduate degree? Would he have disliked the corporate software world and left the job – or would he have thrived in that challenging environment and shown everyone how great he really was.
He loved to help people. He loved to sit and listen and analyze people. He learned this in his last two summers at home and his time with friends in school. I wonder if he would have decided to go back to school for a degree in Social Work, Psychotherapy, or some related field so that he could pursue his love for helping others. During his last summer, he found a therapist that he really connected with. He helped Andrew with strategies on how to handle stress. He helped him deal with crowds and groups that Andrew never liked to be in. He also helped him cope with the pain and anguish related to his kidney issues – which ultimately led to his demise.
He would come home and tell me that he really respected this therapist. He talked to his friends about him, about what he was learning, and how it made him feel. It probably would have changed the direction of his life – had he had the time. But this is territory beyond what we know, uncharted territory, even pushing the limits of what we could have imagined.
We are now in this uncharted territory, and will be from now on. Past what we knew what was going to happen to Andrew. Past what we can reasonably assume and postulate about our son’s life. We are now, at three years, into just thoughts and imagination as to what he would be doing. And that is dangerous territory. And hurtful territory sometimes. Would he be married by now, like a few of his friends? Would he be starting a family, going to grad school, or even working with me full time – which we talked about a lot. Would he still have his Mazda? Or did the money he made at work enable him to buy a new fancier and faster car with more bells, whistles, buttons and gadgets. Would he be going to watch Nicole play hockey at school as often as he used to? Who knows.
From now on, we are looking beyond what we knew. We are imagining things that he might have done, paths and direction we hope he might have taken. That is our job now. Andrew is as strong in our memories and thoughts as he ever was. But the thoughts now are more of our hopes and dreams and our aspiration of what he could have been – the same hopes and dreams and aspiration we had for him on the day he was born. Pretty ironic.
This post is inspired by Tyler’s mom.
I just hope I did her thoughts justice.