The day of Andrew’s Funeral, Sunday, November 8, 2009, dawned warm, and sunny.
In the absence of strong winds last autumn, the trees were still clothed in their rich, vibrant, autumn colors.
Our house was bursting at the seams. Hugh’s brother, John, had arrived from Australia the previous day. My mother, older brother and cousin had arrived from Italy the day before that. Friends had flown in from across the States.
There was a line for the bathroom until the very moment we left for the Church.
But that was later.
When it was still quiet, early in the morning, I went for a walk by the River with my brother, my cousin and John.
My back was still hurting, we walked slowly around the park and talked about Andrew.
Living in Australia, the last time John had seen Andrew before the previous night, when he’d seen him in his casket, John hadn’t seen his Nephew for six long years.
How sad that one should let time fly like this, until one day, there is no more time.
A friend and former Real Estate client of mine, took it upon himself to feed us and the amount of food he sent from one of his Manhattan restaurants, would have fed the thirty or so people at my house more than once.
When we arrived at the Church, there was a long line of people waiting to go inside. In his casket, Andrew had already arrived, and waited in the car outside the Church.
We walked over to him…
Those moments, though confused at times in my mind, are engraved in my being.
Andrew’s funeral turned out to be a fairly grand affair, attended by more than five hundred people.
Twice more than what the Church could accommodate, but everyone was squeezed in, somehow, somewhere, and some stayed in the beautiful courtyard and followed the service from outside.
Florentina’s former Italian Professor at NYU, Stefano Albertini, brought the Italian flag to the Church as a reminder that, because of me, Andrew was partly Italian. A friend of Hugh from the British Consulate, brought the English flag, because Hugh being English, Andrew was also partly (mostly actually) English.
It was a beautiful service, and it reflected my, Hugh’s and the children’s sensibilities.
The two pieces of music I chose were: Jai, Jai Janani and In The Still Of The Night. The others, Green Sleeves, Jerusalem, Finlandia and Nimrod were chosen by Hugh, Florentina and Robert.
At the end of the service there was a reception generously organized by some of my friends, and there we watched the slide show that Florentina had put together.
And so, a week that had started perfectly normally on Monday, November 2, 2009, six days earlier, ended on the Sunday with the funeral, and cremation, of one of my beloved children.
From Life to Death, just like that, with nothing in between.
Alive one moment, dead the next, just like that.
But from the moment I was given the news of Andrew’s death, I have been telling myself over and over that he is only dead to this world, that he has only gone from sight.
A full year has now passed from Andrew’s death and last goodbye.
I have survived, somehow. My family has survived, somehow.
And we have more surviving to do, but we can do it. Even though it is still as hard and as painful as hell, we can do it, I know we can.
But… I have joined a club that grows every fifteen minutes in the United States alone. For every fifteen minutes someone else dies of suicide, and that, is unacceptable.
And that is what I am working on changing. In Andrew’s name and memory.
Thank you to my family, all my friends and all of you who have stayed with me and supported me through this long, harrowing year.
There is work to be done, and we will do it, whichever way we can, we will do it. Our loved ones have not died in vain.
I leave you today, with the beautiful music from Andrew’s service and with a video of the reception afterwards.