It was the first time since Andrew’s death, that I had “exposed” myself to dozens of suicide survivors and to professionals whose job is suicide prevention.
Sitting at the back of the conference room with Elizabeth to my right and Jessica (who lost a cousin) to my left, I listened to John Madigan, Senior Director of Public Policy at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, introduce himself and ask us to introduce ourselves.
“I am Carol Graham (wife of Major General Mark Graham), I lost my youngest son Kevin to suicide in May 2003 and my oldest son, Jeffrey, in February 2004 in Iraq while leading a dismounted patrol in Khaldiyah.”
I later read that when standing by his younger brother, devastated, Jeffrey said that he just wanted to climb into his brother’s coffin.
“I am Jenny, I lost my mother.”
“I am Mark, I lost my partner and several co-workers.”
“My name is Meredith, I lost three of my best friends. One of them was on leave from Iraq.”
“I am Mary, I lost my husband and my 18 year-old son tried to kill himself…”
“My name is Judith, I lost two brothers.”
“My name is Lindsey, as a result of my brother’s suicide my parents ended up divorcing, my sister tried to commit suicide and I feel I’ve lost my whole family.”
“I am Laura from Virginia, my younger brother died of suicide as a result of cyber bullying.”
“My name is Ed from Colorado and my son hung himself.”
“I am Max from Arkinsore, my son shot himself.”
“My name is Esmeralda Williamson-Noble from NY, I lost my son Alexander to SIDS and my twenty-year old, Andrew, died of suicide in November 09,” I explained to the full room while glancing at a picture of Andrew that I had placed in front of me by resting it against my water glass. “He jumped from the 10th floor of Bobst, NYU’s library. Suicide, like SIDS before IT, picked the wrong mother to mess with and we are going to give them what for. I also want to say that in these times of great change, our vision, our peaceful combat must include new ways, new tools other than only conventional treatments in our looking for a solution to suicide and dis-eases in general. I believe Yoga and Meditation to be new tools that will help us get rid of this shit,” that final word just burst out of me, but to my big surprise and relief, I got a big applause.
During a short break and later, at lunch, several people came up to me and thanked me for suggesting Yoga and Meditation. A psychiatrist talked to me about research that showed the beneficial effects of meditation on the brain and a number of us decided to have round table dinner that evening.
Needless to say, I was very pleased to have found so fertile a soil.
Looking at me from the picture and I at him when I sat down, Andrew and I exchanged smiles.
My Knight had not fallen in vain.