Category Archives: Nicole

Why do I love hockey?


This is one of my favorite father son pictures we ever took together.


Someone brought up hockey to me this past week. They said that they recall that both Andrew and I loved hockey and it was a common bond we shared. It held us together and we enjoyed it together.  Yes, we both loved hockey – but for very different reasons. The same is true for Nicole – she loves hockey as much as Andrew and I, but for a different reason.





Andrew Grosser Team Captain

Andrew Grosser Hockey Captain

Andrew loved the sport of hockey. He loved the feeling of skating, the freedom of being on skates and gliding along, the feel of the stick and playing the puck. He loved to check, take the puck away, make a shot, and fight in front of the crease. He was immensely into just playing the game. But there was something deeper for him. He just lived to be on the team. He went around with the team, went out to meals, hung out at school, and constantly reiterated and lived what his coaches taught him – the team is your family – and will always be.

It was his teammates and coaches who called and e-mailed us right after we lost him. Those who could not make the funeral sent their parents. The team sent food and condolences for weeks afterwards. To this day I e-mail and Facebook message several of his teammates. They want to make sure we are doing okay, and they share what is going on in their lives, and how Andrew is so missed by them.

Hockey to Andrew was part of his life. He did not identify himself solely through hockey, but he did know that hockey and his hockey family was a large part of his life.
DSC_1400aNicole is slightly different. She enjoys being on a team, and most of her friends, if not all of them, are related to hockey. She spent summers at hockey camps, spent every weekend with her hockey friends and texts them constantly. But she is drawn to hockey because of her competitive nature. She enjoys being the goalie. She thrives on the pressure of being in the net game after game. Her teammates and her coaches rely on her and she knows that – and that is her love of the game.

She was at a tournament a few years ago and another team’s goalies could not play due to illness. Their coach asked Nicole if she could play for their team (of course through Nicole’s coach). Even though this team was a competitor team for her, and her team would play them later on, Nicole was thrilled to be in the net for another game. It didn’t really matter who she played for, but that she was in the net and that these strangers were relying on her to play her heart out. And she did – they won 3 – 1.

Another time when she was younger, probably ninth grade, a well-known prep school had two sick goalies – both out with SARS for a couple of week. After some finagling and approval by her school and the prep school league, Nicole was asked to fill in for this team as well. She was already playing for her school team that weekend, and for her travel team, but we managed to fit in two more games and an hour travel time each way – for two consecutive weekends. It was a very hectic time for us, but Nicole thrived. She played and played and played, but it was what she loves to do.

They both love the game, but as you can see, for very different reasons. Andrew loved being on a team, being part of a family, hugging his teammates after a goal, and being known as a Mariner or a Titan.  Nicole loves the competition. She loves to make the stops, to stifle the competition, to play for any team that needs an advantage in the net. She loves to be known as the goalie – behind any jersey, but to be in the net.

And you then ask why do I love the game? Is it for the competition? Is it for being a Rink Rat for years? Or is it for the ten plus years I coached and helped kids grow into great players? None of these really – although I loved them all.
What a proud smile.

I love the game for what it gave to my children. I love the game for the thousands of hours, yes, thousands of hours of quality time with Andrew and Nicole that it afforded me. Driving with them to and from over a thousand games, dozens and dozens of tournaments all over the northeast, or the hundreds and hundreds of hours of practices where I had the chance to share the ice with them as their coach and mentor.



Nicole Award 1

I can’t recall how many trophies or medals we won as a team with either of them. But I remember the amazing feeling that I had hugging Nicole right on the ice after the state championship game where she delivered a shutout. Or the feeling I had when she won the Christopher Reeves Sportsmanship Trophy and I was standing next to her when she received it. Or the feeling when Andrew’s team beat amazing odds and defeated teams that we were not supposed to beat just because we were a family – and they were not. Or when Andrew’s teammates voted him captain of the team and I was in the locker room to see his reaction. You can see in the pictures my smile – not for winning a piece of plastic, or for winning a medal, but for the joy and happiness the sport brought to my most precious children.

We have gone to tons of Rangers and Islander games. We have sat in sky boxes, press boxes, the owner box, and on the glass. Andrew had conversations with John Amirante before he sang; Nicole had lunches with Charles Wang and has been to closed Islander practices. They have both ridden the Zamboni, and have been to team parties. They have experienced so much happiness and thrills, smiles and excitement, and have learned so much thanks to their involvement with hockey. And again, we have spent so much good quality, happy family time together as a result of our family’s ties to hockey.

That is why I love hockey. Not for what I took from the game, but what the sport gave to my children.


I want to keep you in my life

IFAndrew, my beloved son, I want to keep you in my life. But more accurately, I need to keep you in my life. I want to get up every day and know you are still here. I want to be able to tell you things, and show you things, and to share with you. When you were here, you, along with Nicole, brought the light into my days and into my life. It is that light that made me get up every morning, look forward to every day, and made me smile. I want to keep that light alive, and keep that light burning for the rest of my life, no matter how long that will be.

When I see something that I know you would have appreciated, I want to know that you see it as well. I need to know that you can still see what i see and that it brings a smile to your face. You don’t know how many times I see a beautiful or customized RX8, your last car, and think, for a brief split second, that I should take a picture to show it to you. Then reality comes back. Sometimes I still take the picture just because I know that you would have appreciated it. But I want to know that you see that car along with me. That you still appreciate a nicely thought out, customized, clean car. When Nicole makes a great save, or wins a difficult game, you don’t know how many times I have reached for my phone to call you to share it with you, only to remember that you saw it already along with me. And I take my hand slowly off my phone.

When I see something sad or upsetting, I look around to make sure you don’t see it, the way I used to when you were a child. But I know you have already seen it. I cannot protect you anymore the way I used to. You’re an angel now, my angel, and you see so much more now. When something goes wrong, I instinctively try to protect you, but I know I am too late. I just hope that the things that made you sad when you were with us, the things that made you cry before no longer make you sad or cry. I know you are here with us all the time, but it kills me that I cannot protect you any longer. I can’t protect you from sad events, from mean people, from tragedy, from anything that a good father should protect his children from.

When I talk to you when I am alone and hurting during the day, do you hear me? When I sit outside by your garden and tell you about what is going on in my life, the way we used to talk, do you still hear me? When I look at your empty seat at the dinner table, do you hear my thoughts? I used to be able to look into your eyes and know you were listening. I used to be able to hear you tell me that you understood and appreciated what I do for you, that you liked me gently guiding you and appreciated me helping you to get through issues that we all have in life. Do you still have any of those issues? Is there anything I can possibly do for you now?

More important though – do you know I still love you. More than ever.

320605_10150420686489408_678059407_10933122_7998256_nNicole is still here – and she is the light of my life now. I am so happy when we are with her, or when she comes home from school to be with mommy and I. She has that bright, beautiful smile that just makes us so happy to see, and that laugh (or giggle) that just melts away anything else. She is doing so well in school, making great friends and playing and loving hockey. She is as confident in herself as any young lady and knows she can accomplish anything she sets her mind to. She tells me you come to visit her before games – just like you used to do. She wears some of your clothes, visits your room, and is making you a part of her life like she always has. When she made the ECAC All-Academic Team, I know you were as proud of her as we were – and I am sure for a split second she reached for her phone to call you and tell you, just like I did.

NicoleGrosserBabyI am sure you will be with her and guide her for the rest of her life – for you are her one and only older brother. Giving her advice and guiding her in your own special way. Supporting her and watching out for her long after the rest of us are gone. I have to believe that. I know your love for her will never end, as hers for you will never end.

When it is a cloudy day, and gloomy both inside and out, one of those difficult to get through days for dad, I look up to that cold sky in hope. Every once in a while i see a ray of light coming through, or a small piece of a rainbow – faint, small, and some times fleeting. And I say thank you for looking out for me and letting me know you are still here.

And a little levity that I know Andrew would appreciate.
Andrew – Mom’s credit card got stolen last week.  But I am not reporting it yet.
Who ever has it is spending less than mommy!


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.