Memory Lane

I was looking through photos of Andrew on my computer last night, and was overcome with mancanza. Mancanza is an Italian word, that doesn’t quite fully translate, but more or less means absence. My trips down memory lane still only serve to resurface the pain I feel of losing my partner in life.

Looking at photos of Andrew from a party I had in my old apartment brought me back to the many times he would stop by and see me last spring in my old apartment on Bleecker Street. He only lived 4 or 5 blocks away. We spent so much time together during his first semester living in the city. I know he struggled a lot with the transition, but whenever he was around me, I felt him happy and more peaceful. He would share with me his issues, and I would talk him through how to solve them. I always tried to give him the tools he needed to solve his problems, instead of actually solving them for him. I would recommend he try talking to different people, and then he would… often to find himself up against a huge bureaucratic mess, but sometimes my advice would lead him to success and he would feel accomplished.

I used to be thrilled when he would show up around dinnertime and I could cook him something. I am very much like my mother in that regard. One of the things I find most fulfilling in life is looking after others, cooking for them, making sure they feel loved and cared for. Since I can remember I have always felt incredibly protective of Andrew and have done my best to look after him. I remember one night last spring when he called me worried about a headache he had. He said his head hurt and that his right arm had gone a bit numb. I immediately left the concert I was at and hopped in a cab to meet him at his apartment. I called a close friend of mine who is a paramedic who recommended he should be taken immediately to the emergency room. So we went. I was so scared that something really bad was happening to him that I didn’t leave his side once. I stayed with him through the night as he slept after being given the proper medications. To this day we don’t really know what was wrong that night, but I find myself constantly pleading with God to rewrite the morning that I was told his heart had stopped into a morning where I was told he needed me to go and take care of him and stay by his side in the hospital.

Andrew, I would spend my whole life standing by your side in a hospital room if it meant I could have you back.

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25 thoughts on “Memory Lane

  1. And me. And Daddy and Robert.
    What a lane, difficult to know whether to try going forward or stay rooted to the spot and look back.
    I am off to the Capitol in hlf an Hour. I have my brief, I will ask for the reinstatement of the Garret Lee Jones Memorial to be reinstated. I will speak of my concern about Colleges’ attitude toward suicide, I have personal examples to cite as well as testimonials from students who confided in me. We will talk about NUMBERS, and they are very great. Enough os us survivors going to The Hill, to cover each senator and Representive from every State.
    Love,
    Mamma

  2. Florentina, Hugh, Robert and Esmerelda, we continue to keep you in our prayers and thoughts. Florentina, you have a writing talent much like your mothers, eloquent and full of passion. We love you.

  3. Florentina, Robert, Hugh and Esmerelda, we continue to hold you in our prayers daily. Florentina has the gift of eloquent and passionate writing much like her mother. We send you hugs. Love, Sue and Alex

    • Thank you Sue and Alex. So nice to hear from you again. Indeed, Florentina writes well and I am proud of it, though it breaks my heart that her literary talent finds an outlet through grief, and the naked sorrow that flows from her writing is monumental! Oh God…

  4. Florentina, I am guessing that writing about your memories may be emotionally exhausting. So I just want to write that I appreciate your posts.

    I wonder what caused Andrew’s headache and numbness in his arm because my son often complained of headaches and neck pain. My maternal instinct says the aches and other things my son complained of were part of the bigger health issue behind his death. I don’t understand how they’re related but I definitely think they are. My son became very obsessive about his health as he struggled to “fix” what only he knew he was struggling with. I haven’t begun to fit all the pieces of information together all of us family members have about my son’s physical and mental health from about age 17 until he died at age 22 mostly b/c I haven’t felt up to it emotionally and I’ve wondered if there was actually value in doing that. But I commented before about Christopher Lukas’ book Blue Genes. I believe there are “blue genes” in my family and if by understanding what happened to my son can help prevent another family member from dying by suicide, then gathering that info would be worth it to educate my other children. But I don’t want to scare them either. I would imagine it would be frightening to wonder if you basically had a mental health “time bomb” secretly ticking within your body. The onset of a serious mental disorder is so frightening.

    • You didn’t think
      They say you don’t
      You didn’t think about the mess
      The mess is huge, where do we start?
      What if your dad hadn’t found you?
      What if it were your sister, me?
      What if we’d been alone in the discovery?
      You didn’t think
      I read up as your dad said you’d read up
      I had no idea you’d been so basic
      A slipknot from a climbing sight
      I unburied further
      Did you know there are sick people that
      Teach you how?
      Did you know there’s a difference between
      Hanging and strangulation and that hanging is more painful?
      I hadn’t really thought about the pain
      This sick man says that it burns the first 6 seconds because your
      Blood is pressuring your head and that you pass out after 10 seconds
      Then you are brain dead
      Did it hurt?
      He also said that your internal organs die within 3 minutes
      If you’d have thought you wouldn’t have done it here
      Because you shouldn’t be discovered by your mother
      He said call your mother
      I called you and you didn’t answer
      They say you don’t think
      You were hanging
      In my basement.

      • Susan! Did you write this?! This is one of the most amazing pieces I’ve ever read. If you did write it…I’m sorry you had to experience it. Thank you for sharing it…

      • I wrote this at a stage where I was angry. It was a brief stage but it is interesting to revisit. My nephew died of suicide some 10 years before our son and I spent those years angry at him and what he had left behind. Now I remind my sister in law regularly how sorry I am for having done this…I see now it was an impulsive act, thoughtless by warrant of the intensity of the emotional pain that needed escaping.

      • I think it’s healthy to acknowledge the brief anger stage, Susan. And your poem really captured it for me.

        You wrote: “I see now it was an impulsive act, thoughtless by warrant of the intensity of the emotional pain that needed escaping.” Yes…I sadly agree.

        Just curious,have you written any more poems?

      • I really don’t write poetry so much. I have written about 70 pages of my experience as a destitute mother after her son’s suicide path. I call it Death By Adolescence.

      • Susan, could you share exerpts of Death by Adolescence here? I like your title. If I were to give a Title to the experiences of the first year after my son died it would be Year of Tears. One book I came across about suicide had a meaningful title for me, The November of My Soul. My son died in November 2008.

      • All boys. November, start to holidays. Was there stress in school, relationships? Jono died March 28th, 2007. It was such a glorious, early spring so it was hard to cloak the mood in various shades of gray. Gray is a popular color in Seattle come fall thru March.

      • Nov 11…Veteran’s Day…2008

        We knew he was struggling with something since at least his senior year in HS when he tried to describe it and set out to heal himself through traditional and so called alternative methods. But he said he began noticing changes in himself from about age 15.

        What killed him? Stress, relationships, his undiagnosed illness. All of the above. He was living away from home at the time. He was
        22 1/2 when he died.

        So Susan, it will soon be three years for you. Was year 3 different from year two? I am living through year 2 right now. It is very different from year 1, Year of Tears. I haven’t settled on a name for this year yet. Too early. But Finding Peace seems to be the focus for me. Have you / will you do any thing commemorative for Jono?

  5. I know to take special care of myself the anniversary day but I don’t want to give it too much credence..focus should be towards his birthdays (he has two, a sobriety March 1st and January 10th, his belly button day). Year two was the hardest for me as the focus was clear, no more buffers by shock and haze and everyone moves back to the warp speed of life while you still are at a crawl. This year has been better and we were able to find a place for Jono’s friends to congregate in the form of a bench in our local Arboretum. I am not one for cemeteries or burial so he was cremated and has been taken by many friends and family to places for skatering. He’s even in Iraq with a buddy serving duty and been as high as Mt. Rainier and the Sedona vortex.

    • I have Andrew at home with me and a small part is in Sicily, Italy in a small family chapel we have at the local cemetery. I am so happy to have gone for cremation rather than burial, the first in either of our families.

    • Shannon, yes…I told my family that after the 1 year commemoration at my son’s graveside I would not be remembering that day in the future but his birthday.

      Thanks for sharing about your year two experience, especially I recognize the speed of life phenomenon. It’s interesting how survivors move through similar phases in their own individualized timing.

      My son intended cremation. But as his death was a first for us and we had never as parents even discussed yet about our own burial plans. We proceeded with what we knew! The death of your child is not a great time for making first decisions you don’t even want to make in the first place! In our case needing to decide a few hours after we found out the unexpected happened nearly half a world away. So you and Esmeralda were spared the decision of selecting a burial plot I went through. Fortunately, it was an opportunity of comfort for me and one of the most spiritual experiences I have had surrounding my son’s death. I visited him often during Year 1 although I knew he was not there. It was a place of refuge for me in a city named the same.

      I love this blog and the people who share…thank you all…aloha friends…

      • Ah, but you see… when I lost Alexander in 1995, four months after moving to the States from England, we decided to bury Alexander in England thinking that we would go back, but we never did. And now he is there and we are here, I didn’t want to be in the same position again.
        And driving past our local cemetery this winter, seeing the graves buried in snow, or drowned by rain, I am so glad to have gone for cremation.
        I am also so happy that this is our blog now, a meeting place.

  6. Oh Esmeralda…I can so see why your family made the decision you did for Andrew. The weather where I live is not so inclement as where you live and I found solace visiting my place of refuge. Actually, I think Someone helped me select where my son is buried. It would have NOT been healing for members of my family to have my son’s remains in our home. My husband can not bear having pictures up where he can see; it hurts so much. Ah, but we each grieve differently. So important to allow that with our family as we know…I am glad you were capable at the time to make a decision that has brought you comfort.

  7. I felt that I had a dark secret that no one would understand or listen too. The pain was too great. there was no way out – I was stuck in a deep dark hole.
    When I looked at methods for ending the pain, I could not bear the thought of any family member discovering what I looked at doing. I did tell god that that was to be my last night on earth. I appealed to God to take away the pain. I went to sleep, and re lived a (near) death experience I had as a child. From a different perspective. I woke up and the pain was gone. This was a miracle for me.

    My heart goes out to all families that experience the pain of a loved one that leaves to find their own peace. I have been blessed with a gift of soul to soul connection. I know that those that leave regret the pain that they cause in their families lives. When their only thought was finding peace.

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