This week was a tragic one for my town.
A five-year old boy whose family used to live here, a rambunctious boy who used to eat crayons and giggle endlessly, ended up in the hospital with kidney failure. They discovered that he only has one kidney, and the other one is riddled with disease. He’ll need a transplant.
Monday morning, after feeling somewhat sick all weekend, and even going to the hospital on Sunday, John stayed home from work. His wife called in sick for him, then took the kids, aged 5, Grade 4 and Grade 6, to school, then ran some errands. I should tell you that John grew up in this town. He was on the local high school’s winning football team in the seventies. He owned one of the town’s gyms, was my family’s first landlord in this town, and many other things that I was not fortunate enough to know about him.
Healthy, with three young children and a good job, John was dead before his wife got back from running her errands.
Cause of death? A burst appendix.
Why did the hospital miss the symptoms? We may never know.
What does one say to John’s widow and children? How do you begin to gain closure after such a death?
I honestly don’t know. I didn’t know what to say to John’s coworkers when they came into the store I work at to look for condolence cards and gifts, or simply to grieve after the funeral. I didn’t know how to respond to the teachers when they came in looking for memorial gifts to give to John’s kids.
I just stood there, shaking my head, wondering why. Why is it possible for a father and husband in the prime of his life to die so suddenly and quietly, not to mention alone? Why would the doctors be unaware that a five-year-old is missing a kidney, or that his only existing kidney was sick?
I don’t know. I wish I did. I wish I could adequately comfort people. I wish I had more than trite phrases to say. So I just stood there. And wondered.