Andy Caplan

If you look closely at my daughter’s face then you can see the joy that Andy brought to thousands of children. Andy brought love into the world.

In my wife’s life, before memory begins, there was Andy.

He was the one constant that runs through her experience.

On Friday, near the top of Second Flatiron, he fell.

To encourage my kids to process Andy’s death, we’ve offered them the opportunity to make pictures, write letters and make crafts that will be put alongside his body.

Before my wife was my wife, there was Andy. I owe him for green lighting me into the family.

Andy had the softest hands of any person I’d ever met.

I’m not sure what that means but we all get a kick out of it.

Wedding Day, July 4th, 2005

Homeboy did a lot of good deeds in his life!

He taught my wife to ride a bike then offered my wife shelter when she shattered her wrist (riding her bike). 🙂

He taught all my kids to swim – my son even got special treatment – he got to start before he was two.

Another good memory.

In our household there’s something called a “Caplan Pour.”

The Caplan Pour is when you grab a bottle of wine and casually dump 2/3rds into your glass.

If anyone notices then a smile and a boyish giggle will suffice.

Andy died on Friday and Halloween was Saturday.

So we had a bit of a wake – it was good to be together, remembering Andy and supporting each other.

Some will say Andy died doing what he loved. I think it is better to remember that he lived doing what he loved!

I have a request to make of you.

The way many of us are acting greatly increases the risk that one of Andy’s sisters will transmit COVID to his parents.

When someone is in the depths of profound grief, it is unreasonable to expect them to push you away.

So please mask up before you approach the survivors.

Let’s not multiply this tragedy.

Each time I look at Andy’s sister, I’m grateful he didn’t use his veto power with me!

OK, another story.

On Friday, I was sitting at my desk when Monica called from Chautauqua.

Andy’s car was in the lot and he was late for work.

This was not good.

Andy didn’t have many rules but he had two rules that helped OCD people (like me) deal with him.

1/ I’m not late until I’m three hours late.

2/ Never worry unless I’m late for work.

He wasn’t three hours late when I got the call but he was late for work and his sister/girlfriend were sitting with a ranger looking up at the Flatirons. They told me there was a rescue going on.

I felt empty.

From that point, I knew the only surprises were going to be good ones.

I headed up as I expected the ladies were about to fall into the abyss of grief.

The day Andy died was a stunner. Waiting for the Sherrif to tell me what I feared, I was struck by the beauty all around me.

Andy’s death was a shock, but it wasn’t a surprise.

He was operating well within his capabilities on a route he knew well.

I know my kids will come back to this piece so I want them to remember this… small risks, repeated, become significant.

Andy and I had very different views on risk, ruin and ethics.

Reading that he would have smiled and told me, “but bro, be sure to remember that’s just your opinion!”

…and he’d be right.

…and I was grateful my kids had an opportunity to be deeply influenced by him.

It’s important to remember that Andy lived exactly as he wanted to live.

…and he respected your ability to do the same.

His tolerance was amazing.

He was even tolerant of the intolerant.

I loved the guy.

Yesterday my son and I went to Chautauqua, I wanted to reclaim that space by laying down some good memories.

My kids have been watching me.

Wanting reassurance that their reaction is appropriate.

Am I too sad?

Am I not sad enough?

What should I do?

Sweetie, there’s no script for dealing with grief. Whatever you feel is OK and it’s normal to be all over the place, for a while.

Providing an outlet for grief before it appears as rage or anger.

Another story!

After we knew on Friday, I went back up to Andy’s car to check things out. My daughter tagged along.

Andy’s car was a reflection of Andy => planner, set of skis, bike, spare shoes, clean clothes and his lunch.

It was the lunch that got me. I came really close to falling to pieces.

Our kids, and spouses sometimes, don’t have the contextual framework to understand that falling to pieces doesn’t mean I’ve fallen to pieces.

In fact, giving yourself permission to absolutely fall apart is an excellent strategy for rebuilding, stronger than before.

Bro, not only did I marry your sister… …I ate your lunch.

I needed a laugh and Caplan’s do make the best PBJs.

There’s 20+ years of these stacked up in his personal effects.

About that planner.

Oh the planners…

My wife spent the last three days working through the planners.

She’s still working.

Many years ago, another Andy (Penfold) did the same thing for Stuart. Back then it was a paper phone book. A => Z. Andy P said it was healing. My wife is experiencing the same thing.

It takes exceptional courage to walk into those phone calls knowing you will be feeling, really feeling, grief.

I don’t want another mom walking into the pool, with her kids, and the receptionist having to tell her what happened.

The capacity to think of others, on your worst days, is a wonderful trait.

Don’t be afraid to feel.

I let the kids have their Halloween parties at school on Friday. After school, I walked them away from the crowd, sat down and started to explain. I went slowly and started by reassuring them that their mother, other sister and cat were OK. I kept it simple and we walked home. I put on the TV (new Mandalorian) and went back out to help the adults.

I didn’t make the call – we went over as a family.

What do you a tell a man who is dealing with your greatest fear?

The death of his son.

I didn’t tell him anything.

I sat with him and listened.

Later, just him and me, I completely fell apart and was grateful for his non-judgement.

The next day, I shared my experience with my daughter. She was relieved to find out I had fallen apart (and perhaps grateful that she didn’t have to listen to me suffer, which freaks her out).

We did a good job of keeping Poppy’s mask on until the conversation turned to death, consciousness and personal reality.

My son had questions.

Questions about death.

We happen to have an expert in the family. His grandfather had a near-death experience as a young man.

So we went over yesterday to see what we could learn.

Afterward, he wasn’t able to fully articulate what he learned.

…but he felt better

…and that was the main point of our visit.

So, when I’m gone, I want you to remember that I gave you my most precious thing.

I gave you exactly what Andy was always willing to give me.