Introductions

Carol Graham, me, Brig. General Loree K. Sutton, the highest ranking psychiatrist in the US Army, Shannon Kennedy and Elizabeth

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.

More tomorrow.

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14 thoughts on “Introductions

  1. Hi Esmeralda,

    What an experience! You should be exhausted. I love that research is showing the results of Yoga/meditation. I will also share this with my daughter, who was certified in Yoga YESTERDAY. 200+ hours of training. I had a conflict with her the same day – something I needed her to know and I knew she would be mad. With her, I always get scared that she is going to do something rash based on history. So I sometimes avoid these things thinking what is the big deal in the scheme of stuff. I have this PTD based on her suicide attempts. But I do believe the Yoga has grounded her. After the confrontation, she walked out in a huff and I have felt emotionally sick. I called her today to let her know that I could not attend her class tonight because I am still getting over the flu and did not know if she wanted me there anyway. She returned my voicemail saying that of course she would want me there and that she is OK with our conversation (which was about her boyfriend – needed to come out from me). It is so hard to differentiate issues with a child who has been so vulnerable. Easy for me because I have her here – so different from what you are dealing with. I try to keep it all in perspective with help from wonderful people like you. Thank you for listening. And get rest and let meknow what I can do. And my daughter Megan. Love, Cindy

  2. Esmerelda: Coincidentally, I included your Huffington Post piece in a recent series I periodically post to my blog, “Suicide Prevention News and Comment.” It’s called “Links to Suicide Grief Stories,” and the one mentioning your post can be found at …

    http://tinyurl.com/GriefStories08

    Please take good care of yourself.

    Best wishes, Franklin

    • Thank you Franklin and nice to hear from you. I know we were at the conference together, but can you give a little help so that I can put a face to the name?
      Glasses and ponytail by any chance?
      Esmeralda

      • Yes … I spoke just before lunch on Monday. Ended with the David & David lyric:

        I just want to work with you

        As we do the things that we know we have to do
        Ever hopeful and ever blue
        We do the things that we know we have to do

        And though we all know deep down in our hearts
        Someday this will all fall apart
        For right now, let’s just be heroes

        Franklin

      • Oh yes, Gorilla warfare. I tell you, I’ve never come across a photographer like you. I still see your wicked smiling eyes behind the camera.
        Just finished today’s piece. Nice lyric. Where do you live?

      • I live about 40/40/20 (depending on my work flow between this and that) … in my residence in Rapid City, SD; my girlfriend’s home in Boston, Mass. (Arlington, actually); and being “on the road.” FJC

      • I used to travel to NYC several times a year (to meet with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Consumer Survivor Subcommittee, which I’ve participated in for about five years now … see http://www.tinyurl.com/NSPLbios) but several years ago, we started meeting in Rockville, Md., so SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration http://www.samhsa.gov) officials could attend the meetings without incurring travel costs. I haven’t made it to New York for a couple of years because I haven’t had any business there (I did an AFSP Survivor Support Group Facilitator Training — http://tinyurl.com/AFSP-facilitatortraining — in Syracuse two falls ago, and I think that was the last time I made it out that way). I wish I had some work there, for I do miss NYC especially. FJC

      • I am trying to organize an awareness raising day one week-end day in June, in Washington Square Park. A day for survivors to gather, read, talk, get media attention. Yoga demonstration, take names down of people who want to learn meditation. I have asked our NY senators and congresswoman.
        Maybe you’ll come to that.
        Esmeralda

      • Well … keep me posted. I’m going to be in Boston the end of June for the Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk, but I don’t know for sure yet when I’ll be headed East.

  3. I am beginning to regain my (inner) strength. I left feeling empowered but emotionally drained. yes, suicide DID pick the wrong mother. I know you are going to do amazing work and I’m here to support you any way I can.

    • Suicide picked the wrong motherS!!! Lets get going with our awareness raiser in June, in my thank you letters to my senators and congresswoman I asked them to come.
      When are you coming to see me?

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