Monthly Archives: August 2014


Food. What a topic. But in so many ways Andrew and Nicole’s lives are so defined by food and food related stories.


Andrew never had this before, but when he saw it on the IHOP menu the last day I was with him, he wanted to try it. He was quite surprised how steak tastes in pancake batter and deep fried. He was obviously not concerned about the calories or fat.

Andrew loved his food. He ate almost anything and everything. Both of my kids grew up at grandma and Poppi’s house, they spent hours and hours in Poppi’s garden. They learned to enjoy vegetables grown fresh from the garden, raw, grilled, in a salad, wherever. They loved veggies.

Both of them also loved sushi. We made and ate sushi at home from when they were very young, and they were both pretty accomplished at making their own. Whenever we traveled we like to make at least one meal a sushi meal. The only issue is Andrew and his soy sauce. He is pretty particular about his soy sauce. I remember I brought home another brand one day and he was not happy. He tasted it and promptly sent me back out for ‘his’ brand.  There might be a minor difference in the flavor, but he would always know when we switched them on him.

He was never really into fast food – didn’t eat at McD’s or BK much, But he did enjoy the local pizza shop.

Nicole loves fast food. When she goal tended for the state championship final game, one of the parents told her if she had a shutout, which was almost impossible in the championship game, the parents would buy her anything she wanted for dinner after the game. Given that incentive, on about forty shots, she pulled off a shutout. Her reward? We had to stop the bus with twenty kids and thirty parents at McD’s on the way back home, 10PM, in a snowstorm, somewhere in Syracuse. The team very graciously let Nicole order first. Her order – “The Dollar Menu.” The cashier looked at her and asked her what she wanted. She repeated – “The dollar menu.” Again, the cashier looked at her and then Nicole made it clear – “The entire dollar menu, all twenty two items.”  From burgers, to a shake, a sundae, chicken sandwich, fries, etc., the entire dollar menu. And to everyone’s astonishment she sat in the bus and finished the entire dollar menu, courtesy of the team parents. That was a one time splurge, she does not eat like that now! But she was very happy that bus ride home. Three bags all to herself. While others had a burger or a drink, Nicole was in heaven.


One of Andrew’s favorite meals – nice juicy bone-in steaks with escargot in herb butter. We had this in his honor on the 25th.

Andrew experimented as well. We ate a few times at my favorite restaurant in Port Chester – Chavin, a small Peruvian restaurant. Andrew had eaten there a couple of times with me and enjoyed it, so when the four of us went for my birthday one year he was happy to go back. There were some steak specialties on the menu, some rice and beans, etc. But after perusing the menu for a few minutes, my son ordered the skewed cow heart over french fries and rice. He was always in for experimenting new food and this was no exception. Although only I accepted a taste from his plate, he seemed to really enjoy that meal, and said he would re-order it another time. Even when we went to the Korean BBQ, he would always order something new and always wanted to try something different.

From when the kids where babies, Uncle Roy has been coming over at least once or twice a week. Roy and Dorothy, and sometimes I would help out, would make pretty elaborate meals for the five or six of us (once Roy got married). They would make Italian meals, Greek, Jewish, Mexican – and not the usual meals, but some exotic different plates. Nicole and Andrew would not want to miss these meals – for although they were very different, the food was always a treat. Sometimes the cooking would take three or four hours on a Saturday or Sunday, and we would finish dinner in an hour – but spending the day with Roy cooking was always fun. Roy even talked about this in his eulogy last year. We all looked forward to these well planned out, specialty meals.

The first time we had people over our home last fall was our annual wine dinner. It was a hard day for me to cook so much for so many people, but I know Andrew used to enjoy my cooking, and that was my motivation to continue this annual tradition. Each item on the menu was something that he enjoyed, and I made them the way he liked it. After everyone had gone, Dorothy and I did a toast to Andrew, knowing that we did this dinner in his memory.

Nicole last summer started her own garden, using some of Poppi’s seeds, but all of Poppi’s motivation. Although he has been gone for a few years now, Nicole talks about her namesake all the time, and she is so proud that she is carrying on his tradition of a full garden. Last year we had an abundance of fresh vegetables, and gave away over two thousand peppers. The zucchini was the largest we had ever seem, and the tomatoes were abundant. I remember Todd coming over at the end of August and picking several of the cucumbers and eating them right from the garden – he was amazed at the way fresh cucumbers actually tasted. We love Todd, but there were none left for anyone else, but he really enjoyed them and Nicole was very happy about that.

This year the garden is once again flourishing, and I hear that we are in expansion mode for next year, which I am very happy about. It keeps Poppi’s memory alive, and makes everyone enjoy the summer just a little bit more.

So this year, for Andrew’s anniversary, we decided not to stay home and cry all day alone, or even with friends and family. For Mother’s day, Nicole bought Dorothy tickets to the Greenwich Village Food Tour, and what a better tribute to Andrew than taking the day and spending it eating our way around Greenwich Village. We followed our very entertaining tour guide for three hours of culinary treats from Murray’s Cheese, to pizza, to rollatini and canollis. While we had a very special time, just the three of us, we know Andrew would have enjoyed this as much as we did, and we know that he was there with us every step of the way.

Now we start our second year without Andrew. As Cynthia and Pam and other grieving parents have told us, time is no longer marked by the calendar or the year.  Time is marked from when our lives changed. The calendar means so little now, our timeline of life has changed.

What is important is that we have made it through the first year. We did not do this alone, for we could not have made it through the last year by ourselves.  We made it through with the love and support of so many people. From our family to our friends, Dorothy’s colleagues to my close knit network of ACCs worldwide, from our new friends in bereavement groups to my clients and hockey friends. Almost everyone has stepped up, made a call, taken us under their wing, joined us for lunch or dinner, done something to show us how much they love us and want us to survive this terrible tragedy. There is a special blessing for each and every one of you. But more important, you know who you are, and we know who each and every one of you are that has helped us.

Thank you so much. Now on to the second year of our lives, which we hear is harder than the first. So please keep calling, keep coming over, keep joining us for dinner, and keep up with us, we need it now more than ever. And as I have said before, yes, we will cry, and please, cry with us. And We will talk about our Andrew, and please talk about Andrew with us.





I recall this day last year.

We spoke to Andrew a few times during the day. His hand was hurting him for he had broken it on Friday and had it set on Saturday. He was going to get some books today for school then relax for the day. School started tomorrow.

He was looking forward to starting his senior year – his last year of school. He worked so hard for the past three years and he was glad to be finishing up. Although he knew he probably needed his masters degree, he was about to complete college. Graduating was something he was looking forward to so much. We talked to him taking just the four classes, a little less stress for him, a little easier…and then just completing his degree over the summer with a couple of electives. He was happy that we were not pushing him to finish in May, but rather over the summer.

Surreal Territory by Chuck AndersonWe talked about his job. He had a full time permanent job with a software company in Denver starting when he graduated. It was his dream job, making great money, living in Boulder, easy hours and and he got it before he even started his senior year. That took so much pressure of him.

IMG_0014We talked about Jovi. She was with her mom for the weekend and he missed her – although she was gone only a few days. He was very happy with her, and we know that they loved each other unconditionally. He loved her youthfulness and the fact that she accepted him for whatever he was. He loved to buy her little gifts – like candles, or Hello Kitty notebooks and bags. Whatever he bought her, she was so happy with. And she would bring him food when he was studying, and they would hang out and hold hands for a little while until he had to go back. It was their special time together.

IMG_0112He asked about Buttercup – our new cat. We got her a week before he got home from college in June and he spent a lot of time with her over the summer, along with Daphne. He hinted at getting a cat out there for the two of them, for his apartment allowed them, but he wasn’t sure the two of them could care for one – they were not that responsible.

He reminded me to drive his car every few weeks to keep it in working order and make sure it didn’t freeze up. But I had to drive it slowly and had to be careful – I wasn’t allowed to drive it like he enjoyed driving his little sports car. The fact is I could barely fit into the car so performance driving it was pretty much not an option.

We talked about some other stuff as well, but it seemed insignificant. When I was there just two days before, we bought some sushi salmon for dinner. He made some white rice, cut up the fish, made his own rolls. He used the little soy sauce bowls we had bought last week. He was very particular about his soy sauce. He liked a couple of brands and would only use them. He told us that he was going to eat dinner now, then relax, watch some TV and head off to bed. He would talk to us Monday and tell us how school went on the first day.

We were so happy that he was happy. We were happy that he was in such a good place mentally and emotionally. Everything was good.

Then he went to sleep.

There was so much more for him to do, but it was not to be.
There was so much for him to experience, but he never would.
There was so much more for him to tell the world, but we will never know.

We miss you and love you so much.
Today is going to be so hard.
And I don’t want to go to sleep tonight at all.


Dear Jay

A letter to Andrew’s son:

Dear Jay,

Yesterday was one of the hardest and worst days of my life. It was the unveiling of your father’s headstone.

Although I thought I was prepared for it, for it was just a piece of granite, I really was not. When I saw his name, Andrew J. Grosser, etched permanently in the stone, it really struck me hard. I was thinking that it was just a small religious rite that we all must endure some time in our lives, but usually for a parent or grandparent. But it was so much more than that.

The Rabbi talked about the ceremony of the unveiling of the stone, the meaning of the stone, the ceremony itself, and the Jewish prayers. But it was the personal side of the ceremony that I really heard and that touched me. He said the stone is not just a marker, not just a place to visit.  It is really a monument to Andrew, what he lived for, the fact that he was here on this earth and that he touched so many lives. It will forever bare his name and be a monument to his time with us. There were fifty or so people there which is a lot for an unveiling. That was a testament to who he was, the lives he touched, and that his light will shine on for a long, long time.

The Rabbi did something that was also very interesting. He asked people to go around the gathering and say one or two words about your dad. Just something that they felt when thinking about him, how he touched their lives, something that they think about when they recall Andrew. The things that came out were very touching.

Always smiling
Always gave me a hug
A true friend
No Bullshit
Great love of animals



So we gathered there not to just unveil his headstone, but to pay tribute to him, to say we will always remember him, to make this a monument to who he was to us, versus just a stone with a name and the dates he was physically with us. It will be a place of peace and recollection for many to visit. Many of us walked to the stream behind the plot and looked into the water and listened to the peaceful flowing of the stream. It reminds me of the peace and tranquility of Boulder. I also know that is what your dad hears everyday – the gentle peaceful flowing sound of water.

At the bottom of the stone, the last line, the epitaph. One line, that’s it. One simple line to sum up a persons entire life. What can you say in one line that will be there forever, that everyone who passes by the stone will read and understand and appreciate. Andrew’s mom and I went through so many choices – too many to list here. Some were about Andrew’s love, some about how we will miss him for the rest of our lives, others about his short time on earth and all that he accomplished and experienced.  But all that became moot when Nicole said she liked this:

“Your light will shine forever”

That sums it up for us. Your dad’s light will shine forever. Through his compassion, his love for others, the way he touched other people’s lives, through that light, he will always shine.

DSC_0679Andrew had a little blue bag of small stones he had bought during one of our recent trips to Yankee Candle. He picked each and every one out of a large box of stones. Each stone was carefully selected to be in his collection – he didn’t just fill the bag – he selected the stones one by one. He kept the bag in his night table. I talked to him about them some times. He said that he knows I collected and appreciate the polished stones and minerals and that he was going to give them to me one day, or use them to start his own collection. But that he did dump them on his bed some times at night and would look at them and appreciate them. Then put them away until the next time. But there is no next time.

DSC_0682I had that bag in my office since last August. And while I liked having it here to look at, to look through the stones, to know that each of them touched him, I decided it was time to share them with the world – much like his mother and I shared Andrew with this world, it was time to share his collection. At the funeral the Rabbi talked about the bag of stones, as I dumped them for the very last time, from the blue bag Andrew had them in into a large clear bag. I told the Rabbi I was going to pass the bag around the gathered group, and that everyone there should look into the bag and find a stone that touched them, much like each stone touched Andrew.  And that they should take that stone out of the bag and make it their own. Keep it as a piece of Andrew, forever. Keep it in their hockey bag, or their pocketbook, keep it in their car, or on their desk. Somewhere special. Somewhere where they will see it or feel it once in a while and be reminded of why they have it. There are a few stones left. I am packing them back up back in the blue bag and will send the bag to you to have. Now, when you get older and look at it, you know about the bag of stones, where it came from, and the meaning behind it.

After the unveiling, our friends and family came back to our home. We spent the whole day and into the night talking about Andrew. What started out as one of the hardest and one of the saddest days of our lives ended very nicely surrounded by those who mean so much to us and those who have helped us survive this past year. We are so grateful to each and every one of them.

Grosser Set


Let’s talk about Andrew

DSC_4097Let’s talk about Andrew, please.  Don’t be shy, don’t be reserved, don’t worry about hurting our feelings or making us sad. Please talk about Andrew. We know he is gone, we know that we have lost our son. We know what G-d has taken our child. Talking about him will not remind us of this, we have not forgotten about it, we never will. It is in the forefront of our minds and the most dominant thought we have every day. It is the first thing we think about when we rise in the morning, and it is what we cry about as we fall asleep every night.


Andrew putting Nicole’s Halloween make up on, this was a great story of how they loved each other.

So let’s hear your stories about Andrew. Share with us your memories. Show us you remember him, you cared about him, you knew him. Let us know he is not forgotten. Talk to us like he is still with us, for he is with us, still. Share with us a story we never heard, share with us memories of when he was at your home and did something funny, or when he was with your son and they did something special. I am sure there is a lot about him we have never heard yet.

And not just for us. If you have a friend who has lost a child, a sibling, a parent, a friend – talk about them. Don’t shut down. Don’t change the subject. Don’t think other things are more important. There is nothing more important to a grieving person than to know you care. There is nothing better to a grieving person than to hear memories of their lost one. Grieving is not forgetting or holding it in, grieving is sharing and caring.


I am sure there is a story behind this picture – I would love to hear it one day.

I know it might be hard for you to do this, but any harder than me living without my son? Than a young man who just lost his dad? Than a  child losing their sibling? The comfort of you taking the time and thought to talk about our lost one’s means so much to us that you will never know. But you one day will know, unfortunately. Show the courage, true courage, that a friend or family member needs. Step up and join us in talking about our lost ones. Even make the first step, tell us a short story about our lost loved one, or even just tell us you miss them too. You will make us happier beyond words and beyond tears.

And yes, we will cry. Yes, you made us cry. But they are tears of happiness, tears of remembrance. These are the tears we need, and we will cry whether you tell us stories or not. But knowing that you are thinking about us, and helping us deal with our grief means so much to us. So fight through your own feelings of being safe, fight back the thoughts of holding a ‘safe’ conversation.  That is not what we want, and more important, that is not what we need.

We don’t need to talk about the weather, or the latest Hollywood gossip, or the latest celebrity death. We don’t care. We really don’t. Nobody really cares.

We want to talk about our lost ones. If you are our true friends, our loved ones, you will see through the tears, fight though your fear of hurting us or making us cry. And please, let’s talk about Andrew.


This is the story of Andrew’s life – put into a quilt for Todd. Snowboarding, Skateboarding, Hockey, Scuba Diving, and his Bar Mitvah. This was Andrew, forever with Todd.


Missing Someone

Take care, see you later, miss you…

We’ve all said them, we’ve all heard them. But what do they really mean? Are they merely words? Do we really mean them when we say them, or are they a courtesy when we talk to one another? Some expressions are just that – expressions. Just the end of a meeting. just the end of a visit, just words at the end of a letter. Take care. See you later. pretty simple, not much meaning behind them, and not much thought.


A beautiful tattoo in memory and in honor of Andrew

But. Miss you. That’s all the difference. When you talk to someone you have not talked to in a while, you say it. When you see someone again, you say it. When you write someone an e-mail or a text, you use it all the time. But do you really “miss” them that much? Or at all. You know you are going to see them again. Maybe a day, maybe a week, maybe next vacation, but they will be there, and you’ll see them again.

But when someone is no longer there, or no longer here, then you learn what the words missing someone really means. Dorothy told me a while ago, through her tears, that she really, really misses Andrew. I thought about it, and so do I. She said that she really learned what the word means now that he is gone, and that missing feeling will go on forever. I guess that is the difference. You can miss someone, but you know they are around. You know you will see them again, you know you can always reach out and touch them.

We can’t. Any grieving parent can’t. Any child who lost a parent that they were close to – can’t. That is really what missing is. That, to us, defines missing someone. That type of missing hurts, it goes down to the soul, it effects you profoundly. Some days that missing consumes us, and we have a hard time getting around it, we have a hard time functioning. Other days we feel it, but we cherish the time before and we smile.

You know you can no longer hug your parent, or your friend. You can’t call your brother or sister to tell them something funny happened to you. You can’t say something to them that  you always wanted to tell them. You can’t reach out to them for advice, as you always did before. That is missing someone. That redefines what it means to miss someone. I had a conversation with a close friend of mine about this. His father passed away a few months ago, and for the first time in his life, he misses someone, truly misses someone. It does not matter how close you were to a person who is gone, just knowing that they are gone, forever, makes missing them all too real. It is no longer just a word.

My father. I miss him every day of my life.

I miss my father deeply. It has been thirty five years, and not a day goes by that I don’t think about him. I have his pictures in my office and on my desk, I look at them every single day – as I am sure most people who have lost a parent do. What would he have been like when he got older? I wonder about his relationship with my children, would he have spoiled them? I wonder how different I would have turned out had I had a father to ask advice to, and to look up to for the past two thirds of my life. I missed him at my high school graduation. I missed telling him when I got my first job, and my first promotion, or started my own business. And most of all, I missed him at my wedding, and the birth of my children – he should have been there. I miss him. I have learned to live with missing my father. It took most of my life to adjust, but I have. I know that fathers pass before their children, and I look around and see my friend’s fathers passing, and I feel so sorry for them, for they will unfortunately learn what missing someone means. And many of them I will miss as well.

I talk to my friends and acquaintances who’s parents are passing, for they know that I have lived through it and survived. I can talk to them from experience, and tell them what has gotten me through my life. And hopefully they can find some solace from what I say.

Then there is a different kind of missing. That of a parent missing a child. That is entirely different.

andrew 1We miss Andrew deeply, down to our souls. The pain of missing him hurts us, not just emotionally, but physically – like a hole in our hearts. But that is a different miss. We miss hugging him every day, and seeing him for breakfast. We miss him being our son, calling us for advice, calling us to say hello, just being here. And it won’t get better, ever. We missed him this past spring when he should have graduated college. We will miss him on every trip we take, and know he should have been there. We will miss him when someone gets married in the family, or when someone passes, he should have been there. We went to Dorothy’s cousins engagement party last month, and although we had a very nice time, it hurt knowing Andrew should have been there. He would have enjoyed the food, spending time with Grandma, and listening to the flowing water – he was missed by many. When we grow old we will miss him. Whatever we do, we miss him.

IFMy great-aunt never let us say ‘goodbye’. She would always correct us to say ‘see you later’.
I miss her a lot. I wonder what she thinks of the expression ‘miss you’.

This journal is dedicated to all those I miss.

Cards 70 0008


Andrew’s Foundation

This is what being on a team feels like

Hockey, Soccer, baseball, softball, lacrosse.  Our kids played some or all of these sports growing up. We think back on all of the good times we had during those seasons. They made great friends, learned amazing life lessons, learned to be a team player. They benefited in so many ways  – not just making them a good teammate, but a better person, a more compassionate person, and a better human being. They made friends that will last them through school and beyond. The memories, the jerseys, the trophies all become part of their lives and who they are. No matter how the teams did, they learned, they enjoyed, they grew.

Aren’t we all proud of the fact that we were able to afford these sports for our kids. Some were less expensive than others, some were too much, but we knew the value of being on a team and we stretched our dollars. We woke up early to take them, stayed out late for practices, and took off Fridays to go to tournaments. Their teams became our lives for years and we were very happy that way. The other team parents where our closest friends for the season and beyond. We wore their team colors, had team blankets, and cheered and took pictures that we shared proudly with our families.


Look at the faces of these kids. Every one is smiling and happy to be part of the team.

And then there are the others. Let’s talk about them. Those kids that cannot afford to play travel sports. Those kids that because of family circumstances cannot enjoy the benefits of being a team player. Of course they can still have success in life, and they do just fine, but they miss out on a huge part of growing up. Thankfully, almost every organization has a scholarship program that enable these kids can play. They can benefit from being on a team. The organizations realize that those who can afford to play have to support those who cannot afford it – and this is a good thing. I have seen several players who were scholarshiped become such an integral part of the team and learn so much. Andrew also saw this, and it meant a lot to him.

So there is money and spots for those who cannot afford. What is missing though, is a big part. And Andrew realized this. Let me tell  you a story.

One of Andrew’s hockey teammates would tie a pair of hockey socks around his shoulders to give the appearance that he wore shoulder pads. Without them he could not play, but he could not afford to buy real shoulder pad. His family just did not have the extra money to spend. Andrew talked to me about this and he did something about it. We went to some Manhattanville Men’s Hockey players we knew and told them about this player, and they were more than glad to donate a pair of pads for him. They knew the value of being on a team and wanted to help. Another player had holes in her gloves and we arranged for new gloves from the Woman’s team. And yet another player had such large feet that most hockey stores did not stock his size, but someone on Manhattanville was glad to donate his used, but very large, skates. Andrew was touched by this and really worked to get used equipment to players in need.

The point of the story is this. While most organizations have scholarship money for spots on a team, and most school teams don’t charge for playing or can subsidize players, there is nothing for those players in need of equipment. Organization won’t buy a player who wore or outgrew skates new skates. If a players stick breaks, there is no replacement that someone is going to give her. If a kid is using an expired helmet (yes, they do expire these days), no one is there to purchase him a new helmet so he can continue to be part of that team.

This is where we want to come in. The friends, team mates, and family who loved Andrew. The clients, peers, friends and co-workers of his parents.

In Andrew’s memory, and in his honor, we are stepping in and helping these kids who need equipment, but due to circumstances cannot afford what they need. We will be  there to buy them a new helmet, a new stick, shoulder pads, or even socks. We are going to make them whole again so that they can continue to pursue their dreams. This  is going to be a gift, not a loaner, not a rental, but a gift that they get to keep as their own. We are not going to make a public statement about it – we are not going to list who got what, privacy is so important in situations like this. But at the end of the season, or once a year, we will publish a list of what was given out, what items we gifted to needy individuals.


Each and every one of Andrew’s coaches had a positive influence in his life. They were all part of his hockey family.

The goal is to make a difference in these kid’s lives. We are going to start with ice hockey because that was Andrew’s passion. And we want to start out small and learn how to do this correctly. Then our hopes and plans are to expand to other sports as time and finances allows us to.

Just think about how your kids, nephews, nieces, or your neighbors benefited from sports. Think of the fun, life experiences and other benefits that they were afforded being on a team – and being well equipped.  Look at any ice rink or ball park and you can see the fun these kids are having and the lessons they are learning in life. Please help us in helping the small percentage of kids who need our help. Let’s not lock them out because they could not buy a new stick or new skates. Let our compassion help these kids grow into fine human beings. It’s only a small part of their lives, but isn’t it worth it?

We do not have a name for the foundation yet, and hoping some creative friend will come up with a great name for us to use. Something that includes his name, but also the idea of what we are trying to accomplish here.

We are not soliciting donations now, but will within a few weeks. When we do, we really hope that we have can have a response that would make Andrew proud of what he started.