We Have Friends In Both Places.

Sometime during the night, it stopped snowing. It was wonderful while it lasted. There is almost as much snow on the ground as there was after the blizzard of ’96, our first winter in the United States.
I wrote about it a while back, that in the woods near our house, the snow was so deep that six year-old Andrew could not walk through it and Hugh had to carry him over his shoulder.
That January, three and half months after Robert’s twin Alexander, had died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, I was feeling pretty wretched. I thought that there was nothing, nothing that life could ever throw at me that could hurt me after this.
Looking at his rosy cheeks and sweet smile, sitting happily on his father’s shoulder, I could never, ever have imagined that Andrew, beloved child of ours, would one day take his own life. Neither could have I believed that I would remain alive after losing a second child.
When Andrew died, I went through several bouts of not being able to eat, even drinking wasn’t easy. Before I knew it, I lost thirty-nine pounds. At the time I thought that I would never be able to eat again. Just thinking about food would make sick. But not so. Needs must, and last night I had a big cup full of ice-cream with whipped cream! Delicious and disgusting.
That’s the thing with me, when I am hurt my reactions are all the way one way, or all the way the other way, ie:
I either starve, or stuff myself, I love big and I suffer big.

Had I not had Andrew, had I not loved him and had he not loved me back; I would not feel his loss with every fiber of my being.
Yet, I would not trade the nine months that I carried him in my womb. I loved him and he gave me joy from the moment he started growing inside me. Every day of the twenty years and five months that he was with us since taking his first breath, were precious. His smile, his laughter, his wicked sense of humor, his amazing mimicking ability, his generous, compassionate, loving heart; the sense of the ridiculous we shared and much, much more, are worth every agonizing moment without him now.

“I am not afraid of death,” I told my husband the other day. “We have friends in both places,” I said, thinking of Alexander and Andrew there, and our other two children here.
How blessed indeed we are.

PS. The sun is shining. Here and there the snow has started falling off the trees. Little by little the bent over branches are picking themselves up. Their give is what it took them to survive the heavy load.


12 thoughts on “We Have Friends In Both Places.

  1. Dear Mrs. Williamson-Noble,

    Thanks so for continuing to share your blog. I’ve emailed before–about “angle.” I’m sorry. As I thought about it(and thanks for yr. reply), my bringing up “angle,” in the sense of a Larry producer’s concern, was ill-conceived.

    You have a powerful personal story and a voice in which to tell it. You have already made that story universal and you have a vital audience for it here and on Huffpost. Your activism, energy, generosity inspires.

    You have educated me and I promise to spread the word to other educators.

    But you did mention you’d like to go wider–

    Your work is so important. You debunk the very myths and stereotypes that enables our complacency and inaction. I would think you have also sounded a strong chord with other survivors.

    But if you were to want to find more routes to pass the message along, and while you might wait for a book offer, or some other media proposal ( If you’ve not already had shout outs, welcome or unwelcome ),then you already have all you need, without intermediary.

    I use the word “story,” not to minimize the reach and depth of your experience, or so many other parent-survivors . I mean to use the term in the sense of story as the form, the most vital form, we use to communicate the most vital truths about and to each other.

    There are many ways to tell a story. You have so far chosen a way that means you (and by way of that your family) are the owner of the story; you are the medium to convey it.

    Other forms you can own:

    1) Documentary film
    2) Book—but any kind you’d like, one that would probably emerge with little prodding, just by your continuing to chronicle your own journey; reminiscences; research; experiences with other survivors; to collect pictures, images…in an electronic form you can even make you son’s beautiful voice available (former speech teacher, drama buff, I can’t help but remark).

    Still, in-print books endure and reach so many. What would you need aside from tools on hand? A volunteer editor, a little technical advice on the mechanics of query letter or book proposal. A writers’ convention?

    As to film-form: there are grants, film workshops, documentary film makers who might mentor; and plain old digital film-making tools.

    If there is any service(on a volunteer-basis) that I or others of your readers can offer, let us know. This might include contacting media, legislators–or other institutions; researching grants; in other words, some stamp-licking duties.

    Thanks for letting us get in touch with you and for keeping in touch with us. You have all the angle you need.


    • First of all, Please, call me Esmeralda.
      Dear Virginia, If I may, thank you for keeping in touch. I can’t help doing what I am doing, but you, your offer of help is true generosity, and I am grateful.
      I am a writer, understand the use of the word story, and putting the word end on my memoir is my dream and I dedicate to Andrew and Alexander, who’s lives and death have been of service to others. And to my surviving children and my husband who have suffered much and given much and continued looking for ways of bringing good out of our tragedies.
      Whatever work I have done, first with SIDS and now with suicides, I could not have done without the generous and loving volunteers that have selflessly walked with me for some of the journey.
      Virginia, if you want to take on contacting media, I would be more than grateful. As for legislators, I have appointments to lead a NY delegation to see Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and Representative Nita Lowey on March 9 at the end of a suicide prevention conference in Washington.
      Best, Esmeralda

      • Esmeralda,
        Just give me a little guidance on that. I do have a list, from my old grassroot days during Obama campaign, but would like to know of any suggestions you might have as to who to contact or how– in terms of what you think best represents your own intentions? Can you respond to me at my personal email address whenever or if ever you get a chance? I understand you are very busy now and so glad to know you will be leading a delegation to meet with legislators. Hoping this will get the publicity it deserves. I believe, and this is only a very humble and personal belief, that your son will be with you every step of the difficult way. Very best, Virginia

  2. “Our sons did their part, they gave their lives that others may live…”.

    Do you think suicides commit suicide as a community service to prevent suicide by others? Hence they get a pat on the back for their community-mindedness?

    It may be that suicide has a heroic dimension, the courage to face and embrace death. But it is also a personal, private, and in some senses selfish as opposed to community minded dimension. It can be a middle finger to the world, but not necessarily. It can also be the cure for existential pain that never ceases.

    Sorry for your loss. I think we are all aware of it, we have all lost (young beautiful) friends and family members.

    But….Do you really think you need to start a career as a public spiritual suicide expert?

    Do you think your son, really wants you to make him into a post-mortem celebrity suicide, and not just that an anti-suicide hero????

    I wonder how much of his act was a protest against your life long desire to control him. Because if you are using and abusing his death for your own ego-gratifying and pschotic “spiritual healer career” now now sure as hell you been mind-fucking him since day one. Without knowing it of course. It was all “love”. Yikes! No need to feel guilty (even if you are). But rather than talking to the anonymous us about him. You might try to talk to him about it (now).

    Unfinished business.

    Anyway its between him and you, and I don’t know your story, so sorry If this is too out of line.

    But I don’t think Andrew intended for you to make a career out of celebrating and co-opting his pain.

    Death is much heavier and meaner and more mysterious than that. Wishful bromides do not penetrate the mystery.


    (This is kind of a murmour from the crowd, no need to reply)

    • I love that we are free and able to express our opinions. I love it that we are willing to stand up and be counted for the courage of our conviction.
      Your knowledge and depth of understanding are truly…. might take me a second to think of the right word, or longer.
      Also it is amazing how well you manage to add 2 and 2 and manage to make 5, that is truly an accomplishment, perhaps the highest in your life.
      Thank you for taking the time to comment, that is what a conversation is. Even oxymorons are useful, not that you are one of course.
      No NEED to reply, but you can if you want to. Take care and have a great day 🙂

    • Dear Tantrum,
      I’m going to guess, just as you have, but bet that I will come closer to fact than you have: you are young; you are very bright; you are moved to respond to Esmeralda because her experience resonates in some way, some deep way. You have been touched by this “issue”–suicide–I don’t know how to talk about it; you don’t. We don’t know how to as a society. So I say “issue,” when I mean something much more heart-felt than brain-fed.

      I have been angry at you, felt that you took the liberty of throwing a self-showcasing tantrum in the face of grieving people you know nothing about, and used the anonymity and openness of this medium, as your “ticket to ride.” You speculate, you guesstimate; perhaps you project. You respond to a mother’s well thought-out(amazingly, given the circumstances)altruistic response to a personal tragedy–her and her family’s desire not only to pay tribute to their own loved one, but to protect so many others’ beloveds; and so many promising lights–with abstractions about “death;” worse, baseless accusations.

      You are young. You are bright. But you are not wise, not able yet to fully factor-in complexities, ambiguities — the real stuff that resides in the heart of an individual experience, that is light at times, and dark at others. Intellect is one thing. Compassion, understanding–these are other gifts that I hope your own pain will one day bring you; then, you can help others.

      It is rather sad to see that you waste your ability to communicate, your skillfulness and talent for thinking, on ascribing ill motives to a family who is hurting, but trying to make goodness for the rest of us out of that hurt.

      Maybe you are just exploring. Maybe just waxing as the bold-boy or bold-girl who will shock us into mindfulness by throwing the old “bromides” down the drain. You do want so to be courageous, and behind a moniker, in the great ocean of the cyber-net, you are.

      Only if courage means aggression, thoughtlessness, tunnel-vision, complete lack of empathy. Remember when you throw your tantrums in these forums, in which individuals lay themselves bare, make themselves at times almost unbearably vulnerable, that you address more than one person. You speak to a very wide audience. Their counsel I hope will guide you to think before you write, to choose compassion over showing off, to attempt to imagine people, places, events that go beyond your own circumscribed geography, your own faculty to imagine the inner lives of others.

      Use your youth and intellect with wisdom and humility. Personally, I believe Andrew and his family will save more lives than you could dream of “correcting” with your unthinking, unblinking rush to judge. And I do believe this is what Andrew would want.

      But who knows? Certainly, you only have “ideas” to offer: ideas that I find misguided, misplaced, and a bit malicious. Next time you choose to comment, please think of the cyber-net as more than your personal playground, rhetorical exploratorium, virtual psychiatrist. You garble up the lines, provide infuriating static. Understand that others could be trying to get through in an emergency. You need to stop “playing on the phone.” It wastes your time and every one else’s. Just my humble opinion and not one endorsed by authors of this blog. Virginia

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