These words bring to mind the loss of a dear parent or perhaps an ancient aunt or uncle, someone who will be missed but whose life was winding down. But parents are not meant to outlive their children. This kind of death is such a shock to the system that there are no words to describe it, that hollowed out feeling, the shell-shocked numbness and confusion. The utter disbelief.
I know that feeling because on Saturday afternoon June 2, my son Marc, age 45, died of a massive heart attack in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. I was in London, looking after my brother when I got the call.
Marc hated having his picture taken as he got older, so this is the best I can do, strange filter and all.
He was a happy, sociable outgoing boy whose life gradually moved into the shadows of mental illness. But in spite of all his battles with demons, he lived on his own terms, enjoyed shopping and dressing like a preppy fashion plate and surrounded himself with items he considered luxurious, like crystal decanters, even though he did not drink, and a grandfather clock, although time meant little to him. No matter when I arrived at his door, always unexpectedly because he could not tolerate a telephone in his apartment, he was up and impeccably dressed.
We used to go out for lunch in good restaurants, then less and less often as his tolerance for such places decreased. I wrote him little notes every week, often enclosing a treat of some sort. In lieu of lunches out, I began taking in prepared dinners we would share.
His death was sudden and quick, for which I am thankful. HIs absence is loud in my heart, his loss a hard, physical thing I had not experienced before. But I comfort myself knowing that at last he is at peace. The service on Wednesday was a private family affair. Donations in his memory can be made to CAMH.