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Archive for December, 2009

It’s been six months today since my son, Jaren, died of a massive heart attack. The fact that half a year has passed has done little to alleviate the loss, although I can now write the words, “Jaren is dead” without crumbling.

In the case of the death of one’s child, I don’t think time heals. Much like an amputee, the edges of the missing part of me have scarred enough to tolerate the many times a day I bump up against memory, pick at regret and finger possibilities forever gone, but gone is gone and phantom pain hurts.

Jaren was the smartest and funniest person I have ever known, and the privilege of being his mother for 38 years I will carry for the rest of my life. Only 38 years is an unbearable shame nothing can change. Nothing.

Only recently, I received a copy of the autopsy report, something I had been waiting months for. No parent should ever have to read such a document, but for me it was a necessary part of the process I must go through to come to some understanding of the events that led to such a horrible conclusion.

I didn’t really need to know how much his brain weighed or the contents of his stomach, but that’s the sort of information the coroner’s office provides, so I know all that now. I also know that my son had a 98% blockage in the same place my coronary artery was clogged before an emergency bypass extended my stay on the planet in 1999.

I was told at the time mine was discovered that I had a one-to-30 day probability of a fatal heart attack, and from that moment until the surgery the following day I was not allowed to do as much as raise my head.

Jaren had been suffering from intense angina, and the night before he died worked his usual shift pushing drinks at the Liquid Kitty. On his feet for hours, he mentioned to his buddy behind the bar with him that his left arm and neck were “killing him”.

Perhaps it was too late then. Maybe if he’d had the option of seeing a doctor, the bypass he needed would not have been possible. But …

If he’d had health coverage, medication to control cholesterol and his diabetes would have been provided for years, and the routine operation that reroutes blood through the heart would have happened when needed. Other health issues could have also been addressed, and he wouldn’t have felt so alone, so on his own, so without options.

Jaren never asked for help. Any questions about his welfare were always answered with an “I’m fine”, and although he always went the extra mile for anyone in his life who needed him to do that, he did not do it for himself, nor request it of anyone else.

The list of “should haves” for me is longer than I can look at in one sitting, so I pick and choose and wish I had done different things and had one more chance.

I miss my son. The world … not just my world, but the whole damned thing … is poorer without his smile, his gentleness, his humor and his amazing intelligence.

If there’s one thing I would ask on his behalf now, it would be that universal health care in America becomes a reality.

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