Monthly Archives: July 2016

They’re Happy

Dorothy, Nicole and I went to an off-Broadway show this week called Spamilton with some other dear friends. It was the first show we have been to since we lost Andrew. And I watched it in such a different light than other shows I have been to before. I was listening to the words of the songs and the melody of the music, but what I was more focused on was the actors. We were sitting at a table that was literally up against center stage. We were just a few feet from the actors (and actress). We could see into their eyes, and hear their voices versus the speakers.

Spamilot1What grabbed me was how happy they were. They were all Broadway actors acting in an off-Broadway production that is in a limited run. The show is a spoof not just of Hamilton, but the entire Broadway show industry. If you get a chance, go see it. But that’s not the point here. These actors are in a small play production – but they were so happy. They were visibly thrilled to be on the stage singing, acting and dancing. Their enthusiasm was contagious not only to each other, but the entire audience. Regardless of where they were, what play they were in, the size of the room – these actors were happy being on stage. They were doing what they loved to do, what they were trained to do, and what they are living to do. And it came through, from their inner most emotions, through their soul, and out their smiles.

I don’t know if they have day jobs, or if this is the only way they make a living, but anyone can see that they loved being on the stage performing. They are so happy doing what they love to do; I am sure any of us would be jealous of their ability to do what they love so much.

And I sat there and thought. Would Andrew be so happy doing what he wanted to do in life? I sure hope so.

I surf Facebook during the day, as many of us do, and I see this kind of happiness. Especially through Andrew’s friends.

Mikey2One of the players I coached several years ago went to college, then moved to Florida and starting fishing, and got a job many people would be envious of. He is now working as a production and marketing manager for a national fishing show. The show he produces has been seen on NBC Sports & The World Fishing Network. But what I see it this – I look at Mikey’s pictures on Facebook and he is smiling ear to ear in everMikey1y single one of them. He is holding up a fish here or there, riding on a fishing boat in clear blue waters, and is shaking the hands of others in the industry. Did he go to school for fishing? Probably not. He probably went for communication. I am not really sure how Mickey got the job, how much he is making, or anything else going on in his life – but what I see is that he is so thrilled to be doing what he is doing and where he is doing it. And it comes through in every picture he posts, every interview he does, and every show he produces. And it makes me smile knowing that he has found such a great place for himself in life.

Nolan2On the other end of the work spectrum, whatever spectrum that is, I see Nolan – I think he goes by the name Makk now. I also coached Nolan for many years on and off. Nolan calls me Mr. Grosser, even after i told him that was my father and to call me Perry, or coach. But he has been taught by his parents to be respectful and he was always respectful of me, as well as any other adult, he just naturally called me Mr Grosser. He helped out whenever he could, he did his chores at home when he was growing up, he wore a button down or collared shirt most of the time, and always finished his homework before his dad would let him come to practice. He was also a good friend of Andrew’s before they went their separate directions in school. But Nolan too has reached a place in his life where he is happy. He is a DJ – if that is what they still call them. He plays music – loud, very loud, in late night clubs until all hourNolan1s of the morning. There are the lights flashing, the 20-somethings dancing and screaming, and the blaring music that Makk plays to his throng of followers. Way out of the realm of what I ever thought Nolan would do when he got a job. He is loving it – and it shows. He has some serious tattoos, stays up all night to work, and plays music. I hear he is a great DJ, very well respected, and has a loyal following. I look at his Facebook page and see him in a white button down shirt in his family pictures, then in a t-shirt behind a neon monster of a DJ table in another. Here again, what comes through is that he is happy. He is doing what he wants to do, I assume he is making a decent living, and is in a very happy place in life. I am captivated by his success and comforted in my life from following Nolan.

I look at these pictures, along with the images in my head of the actors from Spamilton and think. Would Andrew be this happy in life? Would he be doing something that he loves to do so much? Would he come home every single day happy and thrilled to talk about work? I like to think so.

Andrew wanted to be a therapist. He wanted to help others deal with their problems in life. He helped several of his friends in his last few years. He helped them get through their problems, listened to their issues, and offered some advice – even if it was from an untrained ear. Several people told me that they would sit and talk to Andrew for hours and hours – and he was a good listener. So I sit here and hope that he was happy doing that. I sit here and hope that if he did chose to go into that field to make a living, that he would be happy helping other, listening and offering help and support.

I thank the actors from Spamilton for opening up my eyes to this and making me smile. Although I went to see a play, I came away with so much more. And I thank Mikey and Nolan, not just for being happy in their lives, for letting me hope and believe that if their teammate and buddy Andrew was still here with us today, that he would be as happy and smiling in life as much as they are. Thank you guys.


We need to talk

I was up in Salem, MA, a suburb of Boston, this week for business. One evening the people I was with wanted to go out to karaoke, but being in the state I have been in, I was in no mood to join them in their festive singing. So I called my cousin Phil, out of the blue, around 8PM and asked if I can come by and say hello – Phil lives in the next town over from where I was staying. I have not talked to Phil for a year or two, but he had e-mailed me about my writing a while back, and we were close when I was growing up. I just needed to go and hang out with someone who was family, and Phil was more than glad to have me over.

I got to their home in Peabody around 8:15 and was greeted by Phil and his wife Claudia with hugs and smiles. I knew I had made the right choice rather than going out and being miserable, or staying in the hotel alone and being sad.

andrew at party2

Andrew and Todd talked a lot about life – never thinking it was going to be their last conversation.

We started talking about work, what I was doing in Boston, and life in general – all pretty safe subjects. Eventually we talked about Nicole, how she was doing, about her school and her hockey.  We talked about Dorothy, about her work and her family. We talked about a lot of stuff. In hindsight though, much of the conversation was related to Andrew – about his school, about his son and about Jovi, about my new tattoo of his signature (I will write about that soon, I promise). We talked about Andrew’s funeral, and they shared some stories about that week that I didn’t remember, or chose not to. We talked for almost five hours. I cried here and there during some of the stories, I got choked up more times that I care to remember. I shared pictures of Andrew’s son, and stories I had not told in years. We covered so much and went from topic to topic.

We talked about family, and of friends. About the ones we still talk to, and the ones that have moved on with their own lives. We talked about those friends that have stepped up and have helped us through this ordeal, as well as those who have disappeared from our lives for one reason or another. They shared their perspective, as well as listened to mine.

It was pretty late. Claudia had long since gone to bed, and it was time for us to hug, say goodbye and hope to see each other again some time.

On my way home, as I started to write this essay in my mind, like I always do, I came to realize that I had done much of the talking. Well, maybe most of the talking. Well, maybe Phil was able to get a word in here and there. When I left their home after hours of talking, I felt pretty good, almost relieved. We had talked about so much. I had gotten a lot off my chest, I bitched about people, I moaned, I expressed my feelings in ways I have not been able to, to a person I felt very safe to be with. Phil didn’t judge me, he didn’t interrupt me, and he made no judgments about what I was saying. He just let me talk – he could see that I needed to talk, and he would throw in a pearl of wisdom here and there. But more importantly, and the most important thing – is that he was there to listen to me.

I thought he would always be there for me to talk to…

There is a reason why I titled this journal We need to talk, instead of I need to talk. I hope this journal speaks not to my fellow bereaved parents or bereaved siblings, but to our family and friends. We need to talk. I found that out this week. We need you there to sit and listen to us. No matter what we have to say. Not to make judgments about us or our grief, not to analyze us, not to try to make us feel better – just to listen. Just to let us let off steam, let us cry about our children, let us bitch and moan if we need to, let us talk about what we need to. You don’t have to council us, we don’t expect you to understand some of what we say, or to understand or appreciate our grief. We know that. We hope and pray that you never truly understand how we feel, or what we are going through without our children in our arms. We just need someone to talk to.

Let me repeat that – that is how important it is.  We don’t expect you to analyze us, or provide us with some amazing feedback that will take our burden away. We don’t expect or want anything from you but a soft smile, caring eyes, and love. Just like what Phil did so perfectly.

I wish you all find your own Cousin Phil.