The death of her son a year ago, by suicide, filled Florence Nolan with messages she wants to convey.
The first ones were to her son.
On Jan. 10, on the day and at about the hour Devin, at 23, had hanged himself, she returned to Boston, to the house where he had been living.
Another young man, a stranger, answered the door and let her go down into the cellar where, last year, it happened.
She stood near the spot.
"I said a prayer," she said.
She wandered around the city afterward, to other places where he had lived and worked, sticking up slips of paper on which she had written notes to him, tucking them in to the architecture so they might stay up awhile.
She wrote simple things like, "I know you were happy here."
But she couldn't sense his presence in the doorways he passed through when he was alive, which she said, "actually, gives me peace. He has moved on."
Peace has been scarce for the past year.
"If something good happens, I feel good for about three seconds. Then I think I don't have any right to feel good, because my son killed himself."
She was sitting in the living room of her house on Western Avenue, weeping while she talked about her son. A fire burned in the fireplace. Her dog, a beagle mix, slept and sighed on the rug.
"It colors everything. Did I do enough? Did I do too much?"
She pressed a tissue against her nose.
"I go to work. I put one foot in front of the other. But my son has done this and I couldn't help him. I can't help him. He's beyond help."
She's a pediatrician, and she had her own practice when Devin and his brother were young. She saw patients in a home setting, so she could keep the boys with her. She went to their school events and their sporting events as they grew up.
"I went around with him. I was happy to do it. You send them to college. You send them care packages."
She twisted in her chair, as if the tears were being wrung out of her.
"It's so painful," she said.
Her voice squeezed out in a squeak.
"It's so painful."
KIDS IN DANGER
In her practice, Dr. Nolan sees them all the time, a "tsunami" of kids with attention deficit disorders and more serious psychological issues. In 35 years, she has seen the number of these kids surge, to the point where about half of the children she sees are on some sort of drug for mental disorders or diseases.
She can spend only about 10 minutes with each kid, but in that time, parents want her to diagnose their children and prescribe medications for them.
She's not a psychiatrist, and she feels uneasy acting as one, but she knows many of the families have no other options.
"There is just not enough psychiatric resources for children," she said.
Medications can help, but are often only partly effective.
"Meds are not doing the trick. Medicaid will pay for all these meds, but won't pay for therapy," she said.
Her son was prescribed medications, and she thinks they helped, but he would stop taking them because he found the side effects "intolerable."
"They made him feel dead, like he was walking underwater," she said.
She is torn about the use of drugs to treat mental illness.
"They did not help my son," she said.
But she wrote in an email later, "I want young people to know that as imperfect as the meds are, they are as needed as insulin to a diabetic."
In the aftermath of Devin's death, she wants to communicate the painful lessons she learned. But the lessons, too, are imperfect.
More health care resources should go toward talk therapy, she said, because many young people are struggling with mental illnesses and talk therapy could help them. But talk therapy, too, did not save Devin.
He was exhausted and despairing, she believes, worn down by his mental illness, and he may have been hearing voices.
"The voices won that day," she said.
THE OBSTACLE OF SILENCE
Devin was a musician, a bass player who graduated from Boston's Berklee College of Music in May 2010. While he was in college, his mother tried to communicate with counselors on campus about his treatment, but because of medical privacy laws, they wouldn't talk to her.
When it comes to mental illness and suicide, even people not restrained by law are reluctant to talk, Nolan has found.
"Since he died, I have heard from so many of his friends about how he would be on and off his meds, good on some days, bad on others," she said.
Shortly before he died, he went on a charity concert tour of Egypt with other young musicians. He told a girlfriend before he left he was proud of himself for being off his meds and "doing so well."
His mother wishes his friends had called her.
"He was going into a manic phase," she said.
She believes doctors, too, should be allowed to contact family members if they spot danger. Devin had been seeing a psychiatrist in Boston.
"If he knew, as I assume he did, that my son was suicidal, he should have been allowed to contact me," she said.
One of Devin's friends, a roommate, called his mother on Devin's own cell phone the night he died.
"My cell phone rang and it was his roommate to tell me they had found him hanging," she said.
The roommate found her number under "mom" in Devin's cell. Since she is divorced from Devin's father, and uses her maiden name, it could have been difficult for Devin's friends, or the police, to track her down without finding that number, she said.
Now one of the lessons she stresses is that kids make sure, when they are away from home, they share their parents' phone numbers with friends and roommates.
She advocates for communication above all, within families, among friends, between generations. Devin inherited a legacy of mental illness, with diagnosed bipolar disorder and a couple of possible suicides among his ancestors, but Nolan said her family didn't talk about those things.
"It never really struck me until Devin died that these things are important to know," she said.
She has messages to get out, and she is always reminded of them by the pain of her son's suicide.
"People need to stop and think about what it's going to do to the people they leave behind," she said. "He left me irreparably damaged."