The Last Time We Saw Andrew Alive

"Robert & Andrew" - October 24, 2009

Robert & Andrew - October 24, 2009

"Andrew & Robert

Andrew & Robert

A year ago yesterday, though I didn’t know it, was to be the last time I saw my son alive.
I wrote this post last February and I am posting it again today.

Everyday life seems so normal. Talking, cooking, hugging your children, your husband, getting annoyed with the perennially hungry cat. Chatting on the telephone with your son away at college while doing the washing up, or putting the shopping away; normal everyday things. Until…. until the son is away at college….
Then you find yourself wondering how you could have been so casual about calling your son on the phone, or to the table. You are appalled and grief-stricken for every cross word you’ve ever uttered. You wish you’d never made a fuss about his untidy room.

The last time I saw Andrew was Saturday, October 24th, 2009, nine days before he died.

Andrew and Florentina had come home the night before. It was the last time that the five of us slept and woke up under the same roof. Yet going to bed, waking up in the morning, sitting down for breakfast was nice, and normal.
Saturday we went to look at Minis, then on to Woodbury Common, looking for winter coats for Andrew and Robert. It had been a while since the whole family had gone shopping together. For a while we reminisced about the days when it was the norm for all the children to get in the car for either a post office or supermarket trip, or if one of the children needed the doctor. One thing hadn’t changed though, Florentina and Andrew still argued about who should sit in front, except that they no longer argued as such, it was more a case of who shouted “shotgun” first. Both Robert and I took it for granted that we would sit in the back, he in the middle.

Driving back in the torrential rain from Woodbury Common that Saturday afternoon, I knew that the five of us shopping together these days did not happen often, but I had NO idea that this was the last time that the five of us would ever be in the car together. Yet the time it was nice, and normal.
Woodbury Common had not yielded coats for the boys and on the way home we stopped at Syms where we scored.
“That’s a long line,” said Hugh, looking at all the people waiting to pay. ” It’s over twenty people.”
“Look, why don’t you and the boys go to Games Workshop and get that cable Robert needs. I don’t mind waiting in line.”
“I’ll stay with Mummy and look around the shop a bit longer,” Florentina said.
And off they went. When they pulled back outside, I’d only just paid, while all the time I had been waiting in line, they had gone to Games Workshop and had also bought cakes for tea.
“Wow, what have you got there?” I asked, seeing a bag full of “goodies.”
“Well, you see mummy,” Andrew started to explain in his usual; you see mummy way. “They had a special 4 for $9 deal.”
“And what did you get?”
“We got a chocolate fudge cake, Italian cookies, a pound cake AND,” he said, amusement bubbling in his voice, “A Louisiana coconut cake.”
“No! Not a Louisiana coconut cake?” I said, feigning amazement.
“Yes, a Louisiana coconut cake.”
“And what IS a Louisiana coconut cake?”
“I don’t know,” he said, bursting out laughing. “But it does sound good doesn’t it?” And everybody laughed.
One more hour…..
Hurrying from the car to the door in the pouring rain, I put the kettle on while the others are still filing in. I warm up the kettle with the first boiling water, and boil some more. Fragrant Earl Grey leaves are soon brewing while the Entenmann’s loot is being arranged on the table.
It is 4:45 pm.
We are all sitting around the table, tired from the long day we enjoy our first sip of hot tea and cut into the famous Louisiana coconut cake, when suddenly Andrew announces that:
“I’m hoping to catch the 5:16.”
“But we’ve only just sat down, what’s the rush?” I ask.
“I am having dinner with someone this evening.”
“A girl, Mallory.”
“Can’t you take the 6:16?”
“I want to take a shower and change before I go out to dinner.”
“Oh,” I say. “Take some of these cakes with you.”
“Alright, I’ll take the pound cake,” he says while putting on his new jacket.
“Might as well come with you,” says Florentina, who originally was going to catch a later train.
5:05 pm
“Daddy let’s go, or I’ll miss the train,” Andrew urges. “Bye, Mummy,” he says hurrying out the door.
“What about a hug,” I say, to myself, for he is already out the door and getting in the car.
Oh well, I’ll probably see him in the next week or two.

A couple of days later I called him, dying to find out about his dinner date.
“She bailed out,” he said.
“Oh,” I said, and quickly changed the subject.

We spoke again on Halloween. Several times, actually. He was having trouble finding the black lipstick he needed for his make up as The Crow.
“Mummy, can you get me a pair of leather gloves,” he asked me during another conversation on the same day.
“What size, darling?”
“Did you find the black lipstick?”
“I did, but it is not very good,” he said.

I spoke to him again the following day, Sunday, November 1st.
“I’ve still got black patches around my eyes,” he said.
“They will come off with Baby Johnson’s,” I said.
“I don’t have any Baby Johnson’s.”
We chatted for a while longer and then said good-bye. Another chat on the phone with my son. Nice and normal. Except…. except that that was the very last time I spoke to my son.

As anticipated, I did see my son again less than two weeks from the tea party. It was November 3rd., and to be precise, it was nine days after the tea party.

But I didn’t anticipate seeing him lying on a gurney, at the emergency room of St. Vincent’s hospital; dead!
That was NOT normal and it certainly was NOT nice. The day Andrew died exploded our world and shattered our hearts.

But, now, a year later, though heart broken we are alive and living

11 thoughts on “The Last Time We Saw Andrew Alive

    • I was just thinking of you this morning and telling Hugh about your facebook profile picture. I Love you Fraser, it is SO nice to hear from you. xoxox

  1. Esmeralda,

    Today, I heard someone’s response to the common phrase “Time heals all wounds”, stating: “Time doesn’t heal anything…’s what you do with your time”.
    I viewed and listened to a video of your speech last evening as Rachel recorded, and sent it to me. (I can now place a voice with your words) You are doing a wonderful thing with your time. Please take your own advice during these difficult days ahead…and reach out for those hugs, whether they be physical or virtual. We are here for you, as much as we can be.

    All my love to you, Hugh, Florentina & Robert


    Please send an email at your convenience. Would love to discuss how I can help to bring “Get Your Wellness On” to the west coast.

    • SO NICE TO HEAR FROM YOU! I will email you, but tell me, do you come to NY?
      It was SO nice to meet Rachel , and such a surprise, well not really, because as were driving there she came to my mindBut can I please have a copy of the video too?

      • I am rarely in New York. Very long story, but trips to NY are not in the cards at this time.

        Rachel said she enjoyed meeting you and Hugh, but had to cut the evening short as she has midterms this week.

        Here is a link to the video:

      • Thank you so much for sending this and putting it up. I would like to actually make into a post, can I have the link?

  2. Esmeralda,
    How beautiful and alive your son looked – just a few days before his death. It has been over 19 months since our beloved Josh took his life – at the tender age of 17 years old. The youngest of our four children; we had no earthly idea that he was contemplating taking his life, much less doing it. I have visited your blog from time to time and have been amazing by your activist work in the past year. I am now just thinking about how to use funds raised for suicide awareness in adolescents/young adults. I want the money to go locally – to raise awareness in the kids because if they don’t say anything to anyone, they are the last line of defense for themselves. I have a blog in Josh’s memory – a web log that is in remembrance of him and it a journal of my grief journey.

    I wish with all of my heart that we had our boys back.

    In peace – Josh’s mom

    • Hello Josh’s mom and a BIG hug. Thank you for getting in touch, I look forward to visiting your blog. But i would also like to invite you to write something for this blog, as part of the share your story initiative. What kind of fundraising have you been doing? And where do you live? Lots of love, Esmeralda & Andrew

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