The Block Island Times

Featured Letter: Whitten’s Bench

Dec 23, 2013

To the Editor:

On Oct. 6, we celebrated Whitten’s 26th birthday without him. We performed random acts of kindness in his name. He admired kindness in himself as well as others. In his honor sits a bench in front of the National Hotel. We say it’s a perfect place, one in which the storms will all be weathered, a place to sit with early morning coffee. A place we pass day in and day out when we are upon the Block.

On Dec. 20, we will once again come together as family and friends and memorialize Whitten. The date marks his birthday in heaven, he will be one. Whitten is at peace and no longer suffering the way he suffered in life. The nights were long, similar to the winters upon the island. Whitten was unable to get through his long dark night, depression took his life early in the morning.

My nephew lived in Brooklyn and worked at Demos, a non-profit, in Manhattan. He was bright and articulate, enjoyed debate and politics, edited the Breeze at James Madison, loved fonts and layouts, enjoyed friends and family, had a great sense of humor and loved his computer. I don’t sense he knew how many people loved him to the extent that they loved him. The love that I speak of does not go away, it does not end, life itself changes but our love is manifested in the different ways those left behind continue on in life.

The bench, donated by one of my brother Chip’s business groups, is shared with everyone; white, black, yellow, tan, rich, poor, Christian, Jew, Muslim, gay, straight, trans, etc. My wish is for “Whitten’s Bench” to make a difference. It would be wonderful if just one, teenager, mother, son, father, daughter, friend, Islander took the time to sit for just one more day. Choose life and find a path that can make you happy. Challenge yourself to be a survivor, get help, call a friend, a sibling, a clergy person, a teacher, a doctor. Just call, or sit another day upon “Whitten’s Bench.”

Each and every day I’m upon the island I love so much, I touch, or sit on the bench and have a moment with Whitten and the world. I share Whitten’s story today as we near the anniversary of his death and remember the person he was, the smile, the eyes, the beard, the quick wit. We miss you but continue on in the spirit of Kindness.

Love you, Whitten.

Aunt Jane

Chez Bon Repos

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