Thursday, November 17, 2011

1 year ago since my life changed...

Dear Rusty,

It has been a year since you passed. I should say a year since you were taken from us prematurely. I can't think of a single day when I haven't thought of you. Since you've died, I've looked at the world a lot differently. I have learned that friends come and go in this world but best friends stay in your heart forever. I have my Wish for Wendy Warriors shirt from 2010 that I still can't wear because your name is on the back and that was the last time you and I saw each other in person.

This year we took a moment of silence to remember and honor you. I've been there for your Andrea and my Andrea has been there nonstop for your Andrea. She's been incredible to your lovely bride. I've tried to honor your thoughts about Wish for Wendy by incorporating your sponsorship ideas. We even named the sponsorship program after you. Your ideas led to the greatest sponsorship dollars in Wish for Wendy history this past year. I've also worked on my speaking as you suggested I do.

There are things I especially miss about you. I miss you meeting me for lunch and dissecting my blog. You told me you were my biggest fan after reading it. I was always embarrassed when you called yourself my biggest fan. I miss your laugh and your amazing ability to make fun of yourself. No one made fun of Rusty like Rusty. I miss hearing you say "My Andrea" or "Your Andrea." Speaking of your Andrea, she has had a Hell of a lot to deal with the last 12 months but I think she's slowly mending. She has dealt with everything from losing her husband to the loss of the father of her children in a very remarkable way especially having to deal with the media in between.

None of us will ever completely heal from your loss. Whether you know it or not, you were irreplaceable. Giving your eulogy was the first speech I'd made in a long time but since then I've made dozens. You told me I could make a bigger difference. I'm trying. I even spoke in D.C. at the National CF Office and in Roswell at the Chipper Jones Golf Tournament.

Your kids are getting so big. Andrea's dad was showing off Ian's athletic skills the other day. While he may not be there yet, I promise to help him to be the athlete I know you wanted him to be. He and Ethan can play together when they're older and we'll see if we can get the Indians and Braves interested in drafting them though you and I both know that with our athletic prowess, our kids' best chances of making the big leagues are in the front office.

Sophia is a beautiful young girl and has lots of friends. I know your loss hurts her but it will not define her. She and Avery still play together from time to time.

This week I was thinking back to a year ago. This time a year ago our families were supposed to get together to go bowling. We'd just gone to see "The Social Network" a week before Wish for Wendy and we'd recently played on our Warriors team that won one out of three games.

I still remember the day you lost your life. It was a Thursday which strangely enough I figured out if you mixed up the letters in THURSDAY, you'd get "HAD RUSTY" and that was indeed the last day all of us had you in our life. I was shocked when my Andrea called me to tell me you'd been shot. I was interviewing a candidate at work. When I heard you'd been shot, I thought it was some random act and that you were not the target. I know now that you were but rest assured that we have the guy and he'll get what's coming to him though no punishment will ever make up for the fact that he took away a wonderful father, son, husband, brother, uncle and friend. I still remember driving at record speed to get to the hospital when I got the emotional call from my Andrea and those horrible two words "Rusty died." I'd never been so shaken and to this day I still haven't. I lost my "biggest fan" that day. More importantly, I lost as good a friend as a man could find.

There are days when I ask "Why?" There are days that I think God should have taken me and not you. I have spent a chunk of my therapy sessions dealing with your loss. I always wish I could joke with you and tell you how much you owe me for those parts of the session. I know I have to move on but it seems unfair that I can't move on with you and have conversations with you. I miss you, dude. I miss my biggest fan.

Well, my book is coming out officially in January. I know you, my biggest fan, were really excited about it. I have a whole chapter dedicated to you. My softball team finally won a title. I know you would appreciate the fact as a Clevelander and an Atlantan that championships don't grow on trees. Heck, we never seem to see them. The only pro title in this town was won because we played the team from your town to win it. I am also now a Board member of the CF Foundation and working hard to help us raise enough money and awareness to find a cure which seems closer by the day.

I wish I could ask you what Heaven is like. I'm sure you have already made a bunch of new friends (and fans) and are getting re-acquainted with some old ones. A lot of people in Cleveland and Atlanta have suffered since your loss. Please pray for them and if you can, reach out to them and tell them to find peace. The media has been tough but in most instances at least recently I've found that they have been respectful to the privacy of the Sneiderman family.

I wish the story wasn't about some evil man who killed his employee's husband but instead about some innocent man who lost his life yet still accomplished so much before the age of 40. You always got excited that I was going to beat the median life expectancy of 37 yet you didn't get there yourself and that just infuriates me.

Finally, I wanted to thank you. Thank you for being part of my life. While it was only a short time, I consider your friendship a gift...and I have not lost it even after you died. I'm taking everything you gave to me and I'm using it to make the world a better place. It's going to be tough to top the world that once featured a wonderful man named Rusty Sneiderman.

I love you, Rusty. And I'm very proud of the man you were and the man you've turned me into.

Your friend and your biggest fan always,


1 comment:

  1. Beautifully written Andy. I'm taking a moment to remember and honor Rusty, who I unfortunately never had the opportunity to meet. His legacy clearly lives on.