Monthly Archives: August 2015

Fading memories

I really cannot call them fading memories – they are more like fading memorabilia.


He looks like such a gentleman in this picture.

There are so many things around our house and around my office that remind me of Andrew; things that I see, things that I touch, things that I can hold every day. Very specific things like his skateboards, his trophies, his paintball gear, even his body wash. These are not really memories, but seeing them and smelling them elicits very fond and endearing memories of my beloved Andrew. But as time goes on, we are giving some of them away, donating them, using some of them, while making quilts with still other items. Little by little they are disappearing from our lives.

Let me explain a little.

There is a colleague of Dorothy’s that was talking to her about her teenage son getting into paintball. They would have to rent not so great gear every time they would go to the paintball fields. Also, without his own gear, he could not play in their backyard or in the nearby woods. Andrew has quite a collection of paintball equipment – a few markers/guns, canisters, gloves, etc, all of it just sitting in his room, collecting dust, getting older by the day. More importantly it is not being used for what it is meant to be used for – having fun! I am sure he would not want his stuff just sitting there. So last year Dorothy and I put together a bunch of Andrew’s paintball equipment and gave it to this boy. He was so happy. He uses it all the time, has a great fun with it, and they are so grateful for it. And I am sure Andrew is smiling down knowing that someone is having such fun with what he used to love to do.

IMG_0128The same is true for his beloved long board. I saw a Facebook post a while ago about a boy going off to college who was looking for a used board to learn with and to get around campus on. I don’t think it was a financial thing, they were just seeing if someone had a used one sitting around. That night I contacted the mother and we talked a little and that weekend they came over and picked up Andrew’s long board. It was a custom built board that Andrew purchased on-line at Sector 7 and had built to his specs – special wheels, special bearings; all the stuff that personalized it for my son. But it has been hanging on the wall in his room since we lost him. No one was using it, no one was enjoying it, and it was just getting older and dustier. When they came to pick it up, the boy was so thrilled to have the board. He reminded me so much of Andrew and the way Andrew was so happy when he got the board. And once again, I am sure Andrew is smiling down on him, watching him fly on the board the way Andrew did, enjoying the long board the way it was meant to be enjoyed.

DSC_2698Then there is the shampoo. Many of you know I have a slight OCD issue. On one of our many trips to Vail for skiing, I sort of accumulated some number of small shampoo bottles from the hotel. Well, enough that I have been using those little bottles for two years now. Unfortunately I am running out of them, and it pains me to say I am about to start my very last bottle of Vail Mountain Lodge Shampoo. Every day when I shower. I reach for that little bottle, and it instantly brings back the fond memories of our family skiing in Vail. Of the closeness we experienced and the fun we had when we went skiing there. No matter how rushed or tired I am, every time I see that bottle I think of Andrew flying freely through the snow; no pain, no worries in the world – it was the happiest smile he could ever have when he talked about his skiing. I look at the bottles and I smile. It is a piece of him, a piece of his history, that I am about to run out of. I think I have to finish that very last bottle – I don’t want to just leave it there. I have to finish it; it is part of my healing process for a wound that will never ever heal.

There are other things as well. Last year we decided to move the stair climber from downstairs into Andrew’s bedroom – but had to remove his desk to make the room. I gave that desk, the one he never used for homework, just to store his stuff on, to our landscaper of twenty years. He said his grandson, also named Andrew, could use a new desk, rather than to do his homework on their crowded kitchen table. Guillermo was so happy for his grandson to have a new desk, and it made Dorothy and me happy knowing it would be put to good use. Later that year we gave Guillermo two of Andrew’s suits that where just hanging there in the closet. He said every time his grandson wears the suits, he says a prayer for my Andrew. Knowing that the suits are being used, especially to wear to church and to special occasions, makes us proud that we found a good use for them, and gave them to someone who means so much to us as a family. I remember Guillermo crying with us and holding us so close at Andrew’s funeral.

Little by little – that is the process. Eventually I will find a place to donate Andrew’s trophies too. There are so many worthwhile charities that cannot afford to purchase new ones that would love to re-purpose Andrews for their events. And to know that some child will smile and be as happy to get that trophy as Andrew did when he got it brings a tear to my eye. Why just leave them there to get old and dusty when they can bring joy and happiness to another hockey player somewhere who deserves a shiny new trophy.

DSC_2705There are so many other things, but where do we draw the line? Andrew has about 250 Beanie Baby bears. My client made the plastic “beans” in them and sent us a dozen or two at a time and Andrew seemed to have collected all the bears. They are all sitting up on his window valence just staring at an empty room now. Wouldn’t they be happier being loved and played with by a child in the hospital, or opened up by an underprivileged boy or girl around the holidays?  That would bring joy to everyone knowing that they are bringing joy and happiness back into someone’s life.

This is my way of healing; my way of spreading the joy that my son had in life with others. It is not for everyone, i understand that. Some grieving parents hold on to everything, and I can appreciate that. It is hard to give away what we have left of our children. This is something that Dorothy, Nicole and I talk about once in a while. Some of Andrew’s things that are so precious to us that we will keep them forever – his ice skates, his team jackets, his gauge earrings and his necklace that I wear.  But we also get great relief and happiness in spreading his valued possessions out to others who will appreciate and find joy in them. They will never know Andrew, they don’t really know where their gifts came from, or how meaningful that they are to us, but that is not important. What is important is that they are happy with Andrew’s toys and that Andrew is looking over each and every one of them and smiling.


I have the answer!

That’s crap – but it’s a nice eye catcher.

Many people search for the meaning in life, or their place in this world, or they want the answer to some very spiritual question. They spend their lives seeking it, as if one answer to one question will change their destiny. Sometimes, just sometimes, they might get that answer to that one question in their lives. They may feel enlightened.  They may feel a heavy weight has been lifted from them. But how long does it last? Until the next question of life comes up?

Is he still smiling and laughing and as happy as he was here? What a happy smirk he had on his face.

Then there are the rest of us, the vast majority of the masses that are searching for an answer, or many answers. The group that I hear the most from is seeking different answers. We no longer care about the answers to life’s big questions; we are no longer seeking the ultimate answers to life. All we want to know is about our lost children. We need to know where they are. We need to know how they are. I know many people who go to bereavement conventions, bereavement counselors, spiritual leaders, psychics, readers, even travel to Tibet to meet with the monks – all in search of a few questions that are new to us. Mainly one or two questions – and not even about ourselves.

Why did my child have to die? Is he happy where he is now? Will i join him some day? Is she with my other passed relatives? Is she at peace? And the list goes on. We are no longer concerned with ourselves; we have no more questions about our life, our place on this earth, or our peace. All we want, actually all we need is to know about our lost children.

pick-flower-beautiful-beautyFor me, I may not be at peace now, but I realize that I can go on. That I can live my life, function fairly well, and not know the answers to all of these questions. I don’t know why Andrew was taken from us. Of course we can read the Facebook pictures like this one, and hope it gives us some peace. But it really does not answer the question – it only is a thought. Why was he taken? Why, of all the tens of millions of children that get to live their full lives, have families, and grow old, was my son not allowed to? Is there really an answer? is there any answer that would really let me sit down and say I understand?

A close friend of mine said Andrew completed what he was put here on earth for. He fulfilled what G-d had in mind for him. Was that to give a childless couple the chance to love and raise a child of their own? Was it to change the lives of his close friends, give them a reason to turn their lives around? Was it to give a couple of his close friends the enthusiasm and courage to change their direction in life – to change their major in college and to go down the path of becoming a therapist / psychologist and to help other? He did all of this – but is this all he was here for?

Another close friend, someone who has a strong religious faith, said that G-d actually saved Andrew. There was something down Andrew’s path of life. Something that was bad. Something that would have caused him pain and suffering and he was saved from that. G-d did not want this gentle young man to experience that pain, so he decided to make him an angel now.

Is my son at peace where he is now? Is he happy? I have to believe he is. It would hurt too much not to believe this. But that’s not the answer. That is my hope. Everyone hears about how peaceful the other side, how we live there in eternity in peace with our loved ones. We all need to believe this and believe this is the answer about the afterlife. It lets us sleep at night.


I hope that Andrew is with Aunt Flo – and that she is still teaching him Yiddish.

Some parents need to hear it though. They go to readers, psychics or mystics. They want to hear it from their loved one’s that they are at peace, that they are with other loved ones, that they hold no grudges or feel no pain. This is the answer for them. They connect to their lost relatives and hear that they are peacefully resting. They hear through the psychic that their children are not in any more pain and that they feel no anxiety. They hear that through the psychic that they want those they left behind not to cry for their lost children, not to morn forever; but to go on with their lives, to go on and smile and laugh and they will meet up again someday. This is their answer that they find peace in.

Still others find the answer in a butterfly passing by, or a beautiful cardinal landing on their porch. They see the signs that our lost children send us. They see a rainbow when we are on the way to the cemetery, or a butterfly on their birthday, or when we are just sad. They see a ladybug on the window when their son’s favorite song is playing, or the lights flicker when we look at their pictures. Some of us are lucky enough to smell their fragrance when we are alone, or feel their touch when no one is near. This is the answer we seek. We feel such peace when this happens, and feel blessed that they are able to communicate in a way others cannot understand.

So do I have the answers that you seek? Probably not. But what I can tell you is that you have to be open to the answers; or you will never be at peace. You have to be open to the psychic, to the flickering lights, to the beautiful ladybug. You have to be able to dream and listen for what you are looking for. Will your child communicate with you? Can they communicate with you? Who knows? But if you shut the possibility of it out of your life, you may never find the peace you seek, that we all seek. I am not saying to believe in psychics, or to believe in a rainbow, or to dream with a purpose – those are individual beliefs. But what I am saying is the answers are where you let them be. The answers are only behind the doors that you let open for you. The locked door will never help you. You have the keys, now go find the answers.