Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tragedy strikes once again

The truth is that death surrounds us all. It's always around us whether it's on the news, a few blocks away from us or even affecting our own family at one time or another. I guess for me lately it just seems that it's a black cloud around me and I can't seem to shake it. As many of you know, my close friend Rusty Sneiderman was shot and killed one week before Thanksgiving. I have enclosed a picture of Rusty holding my son, Ethan as well as a sketch of the killer. Please pass the sketch along so we can find the guy. It's been really tough. I have written an entire piece on Rusty but I want to wait until after a lot of the media exposure has died down before I share it.

Andrea has been an a true rock for both ours and Rusty's family. I don't know where she finds the strength but I am really proud of her. I am having a hard time dealing with my friend's loss. It's been very difficult for me to put into words. I'm sorry if I have not called some of you back. This is how I get sometimes when I'm upset but I promise to make the return calls soon.

Losing my doctor earlier in the year (July), finding out about my friend's five year old son dying (October) and now getting the devastating news about Rusty has been very difficult to take. Not only do I feel awful for the families who were affected, I also can't get the thought of death off my mind. Andrea and I had to explain death to Avery since Rusty's children and Avery and Ethan are very close. She's had several questions over the last few weeks, questions that we've reluctantly had to answer. Some of her questions have included "Do only boys die? Don't people only die when they have gray hair? I'm not going to die, right Daddy?" Try explaining that to a four-year-old.

I appreciate all of you that have written me and Andrea. I also appreciate you keeping Rusty's family as well as the other families recently affected by death in your prayers.

I really miss Rusty. He not only was a good friend but he was always a big supporter of me and this blog. Whenever we'd get together, he'd say "I'd ask you how you've been but I read your blog religiously so I already think I know." He always wanted me to do more in life and take advantage of my public speaking ability. I hope to honor him by persevering in my motivational speaking role.

Writing and reading a eulogy at Rusty's funeral was the one speech I never wanted to make. Rusty and I only knew each other for 2+ years but he was such an amazing friend that it felt like much longer. I only wish I could have gotten more time with him. We had all of these plans and I'm sad that we won't be able to see them through. Over the last week or so since his death, all I can think about is his smiling face. He had such a great personality. I miss calling him or getting lunch with him and laughing at his self-deprecating humor.

The other day I set up my punching bag that I hadn't set up in 6 months. I needed it. All of the horrible things surrounding me lately stirred a lot of anger in me. I had to hit that bag. I have used it four times in the last two days.

It's ironic that none of the three people around me who have died had cystic fibrosis. For a long time, the only friends I lost were due to this disease. It's not that it makes it any easier but it's a fact that I cannot ignore. I have reached out to my sponsor and even my rabbi to talk further about death. I actually have to thank Andrea who called Rabbi Heller and had him meet with me. I'm not the most religious person in the world but I needed to talk someone who is close to God. I needed to talk to him as far as why I questioned God and his decisions. He took away an amazing friend, an extremely bright doctor and a five-year old who had yet to make his mark in the world. I question God's decisions. At the same time, I know the cliché that life is unpredictable and you have to appreciate each day. I'm just sick of being reminded of this fact.

I know that there are things that I should be thankful for. Ethan continues to persevere with his speaking, my father is doing amazing and my family's overall health is pretty good. Negative issues tend to overshadow the positive stuff when I am depressed. Of course, it's close to winter time which is when I usually get physically sick as well as mentally irrational. At least though, I can see that as a problem instead of ignoring these feelings and letting them fester.

I will be continuing all of my emotional therapy by praying daily and seeking support from my group. I also see George every 3 weeks and Dr. Rad every 2 months. That certainly gives me an advantage over past winters when I tried to deal with all of my issues in my own head. To quote a peer who also deals with depression, "When we take advice from our own minds, we are behind enemy lines."

Hanukkah is coming up in less than a week and I look forward to seeing the kids and Andrea smile as we celebrate the eight days of lights. I'm really not sure of Hanukkah's true significance except that my children get to unwrap gifts and play with their new toys. Maybe the significance for me is that it will take my mind off the awful things that have surrounded me over the last few months. I sure hope so.

I wish all of you well and I wish you a happy and healthy holiday season...and please be safe.

Best Wishes,



  1. Andy, I read about your friend and it is so senseless and heartbreaking. It's hard to accept this kind of loss and I don't know why such horrendous things have to happen to such good people. Just know that I'm thinking of you and your friend's family and hope that healing will come in time. And I hope that the person who did this will be apprehended and made to pay for it in some small way. Nothing will be enough to equal the pain that he has caused, but he should not go free.

  2. Dear Andy,
    Oh my gosh, I am so sorry for your loss. I had heard and read about this tradegy ... it is so terrible, and I cannot imagine what it's like for those who were close to him. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.
    - Julie (Ganaway) Blanchard