Monthly Archives: February 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 Nicole and Dadtwenty 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.


Three things that made Andrew who he was.

Part I
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.

Part II
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.

Part III
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.

Thank you

A true insight into Andrew – his Bucket List.

Andrews Bucket ListWhile 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 agoAndrews Bucket List Closeup 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.

Bucket List
Get out 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
Lucid Dream
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
Cure cancer
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 out 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  I 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.


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.


My father and my son.

Perry and DadI 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.  IFWas 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 picnic-tablehigh 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.


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.


Congradulations, Andrew

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.PG2_4927

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.     PG2_4940

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.