Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Need to Know

Tim would have been the first to tell me to "drop it". I am referring to my obsessive need to know "why". Like most men, when a relationship ended, Tim moved on, seemingly easily in my opinion. I, like most women, wanted to analyze my relationships - what went wrong, what could I have done differently, did my ex still care for me, etc. I think its in my DNA, always analyzing the details, ad infinitum.

But I have to admit, after Sean died, Tim sat patiently with me in the auditorium, several times, as we discussed why teenagers take risks, and could Sean have possibly commmitted suicide, and could I, as his parent, have prevented the accident that took my son's life. It took me a long time to accept the untimely death of my 17 year old son. I spoke with the coroner, with the Amtrak officer who was first on the scene of the accident, and reviewed the Caltrain engineer's report of what had happened, trying to piece together how my very smart teenage son could have been accidentally been hit by a train. I had to have explanations first, in order for acceptance to follow.

My approach is no different in the case of the untimely death of my friend Tim, at age 49. Yes, he was a little bit overweight, but so are many of us over the age of 40. Yes, he had a family history of heart disease, but none of his relatives had died before the age of 65. Yes, he had high cholesterol, but so do many people and yet they don't die before reaching the age of 50.

Friday, August 6th, would have been Tim's 50th birthday, had he not dropped dead exactly four months before. It still does not seem possible to me that Tim won't show up at Aqui, the local Mexican restaurant where some of his friends will gather on Friday evening to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his birth. And I still have a hard time imagining that Tim won't show up, late as usual, with a wide grin on his face, his blue eyes twinkling.

The other day I walked past Tim's tidy grey house, just a few blocks from my own. His aqua van was no longer parked in the driveway, a "For Rent" sign leaned against the side of the house, his familiar white wicker porch chairs were gone, the house empty of furniture, the familiar bark of his old dog absent. When September rolls around, when I inevitably stop by Fremont High School, the high school my son attended under Tim's gentle tutelage, there will be a different Drama teacher in Tim's office, and that person won't be Tim Shannon. I know that I will feel like I am in an episode of "The Twilight Zone".

So yesterday, over-analyzer that I am, I stopped by the coroner's office to pick up a copy of the autopsy report on Tim's body. I have no background in medical lingo, but I was able to generate a rough translation of the cause of death thanks to Google's internet search engine. Evidence of cause of death (in layman's lingo): Tim's heart stopped, as evidenced by dead tissue in his heart and lungs. Cause of death: moderate to marked coronary artery disease. "Moderate" as in 40% blockage of coronary arteries; "marked" as in 65% narrowing of small coronary arterial branches.

The report does not indicate any significant clot or blockage of a main artery which might have caused a "heart attack". What it does suggest instead is that, a slightly overweight middle-aged man with high cholesterol and "moderate to marked" coronary artery disease", can die suddenly of heart failure, with no prior warning signs.

Life, so unpredictable, and sometimes, so totally unfair.

No comments:

Post a Comment