The other night I left the house to pick up my son, and noticed some fire engines parked at a neighbor's house. I never have really gotten to know these neighbors, although I have spoken with their adult son a few times. As I was returning home that night, I saw that an ambulance had also come, and they had someone on a stretcher, taking them out to the ambulance. The next day I found out it was the son, and that he had died!
I decided to go over tonight and offer my condolences. The mother came out on the porch and talked to me. She must have needed to talk, because she talked on and on about her son, and how he died. She is a nurse, and works with cardiac patients. Her son complained of some "indigestion", which she said she thought might be heart problems. But before she could even call an ambulance, he seized up, and she could see the tale-tale signs, and knew he wouldn't make it. The ambulance came, and did everything in their power to try to bring him back, but it was too late. The blessing was that he went quickly, and didn't have to suffer. He was only 34 years old. She told me that her step daughter also died about the same age. I felt bad for her that she has had to bury two children. That must be a horrible experience for a parent. But we did talk about how her son is now reuniting with his father and step sister. I know that must bring some comfort to her.
As I talked to her tonight, she told me something very interesting. She said that when her son was born, he had "spina bifida". With spina bifida, the backbone and spinal canal do not close before birth. I had always thought that these babies had a very slim chance of survival, but this man lived 34 years, and most people could not tell he had ever had any sort of health problem. She said that when he was born, the doctors tried to convince her to just let him die. But she refused that diagnosis, and took him to Oakland Children's hospital. I congratulated her on giving him 34 more years than the doctors would have.
She told me that he was a person who was always concerned about recycling. For that reason, she plans to get a simple pine coffin that will biodegrate. She also told me she had donated his organs for transplant. She asked that his organs be given locally first, and that there should be no charge to the recipients. I kind of had to laugh to myself about his current "recycling". :) If my organs are in any good condition, I would like to donate mine too. I won't be using them, and if someone else can get some mileage from them, I'm happy to share.