Friday, June 22, 2007

My Brother Rick - Part 2

When the long awaited autopsy report arrived, it failed to answer all the questions.
First there was the confusing use of the word "natural" as to the cause of death.
Directly over that line is the statement that chlorofluorocarbon was found in the lungs.
My first question was, "On what planet is it natural to die by inhaling freon?"
The second, yet more important question was.
"How did the freon (or cfc gas) get into his lungs?"
or --"What was the source?"
I had to obtain my own copy of the medical examiner's report, because my mother couldn't explain to me what it said. It cost me 10 dollars.

My brothers cannot explain to me how they think it happened, and show a reluctance to talk about it.
"Don't you want to know why Rick died?"
It never occured to me, before then, that there was another answer to that question besides, "Hell Yes!"

So I'm on my own if I want to figure this out.
The first person I called, after I have carefully read through the autopsy report when it arrived in the mail, was Steve Moriarty.
Steve plays vocals and lead guitar for Storm Front, a local Rock-n-Roll band I'm sure you've heard of by now.
But he also does a lot of work on his job with refrigerators and air conditioning, and I know him to be knowledgable of things such as this new word I had to learn to pronounce.
"Chlorofluorocarbon" I was reading carefully.
"Oh yeah, that's freon." he says.
I asked him about the possiblity of accidently inhaling enough of it to kill you, and he tells me that you would pretty much have to be inhaling it on purpose to do that.

By privilege of friendship of the family of Joshua Mann (another departed friend I plan on writing about) I met with Dr. Sam Sheps as he was visiting from Vancouver, and asked him to read and interpret my copy of the autopsy report, to which he complied.
The first thing the good doctor explained to me is the legal use of the term "natural cause."
"If it were me," he says, "I would have used the word 'accidental', but what it means is that they believe there is no need for an investigation."

Thanks! Sure am glad someone explained THAT to me!

Dr. Sheps explains further that it is the medical examiner's job to determine the cause by the body itself, not by the scene where the body is found. He does not have to explain how it got there, only that it was there. The crime scene investigation is not assigned if the police find no evidence of "foul play" on the scene.

So why the hell doesn't anyone ever finish answering for me the obvious question?
"The source, and how it got there?"
I am confronted with the possibility that my dear little brother may have been a huffer.
I don't believe this, and I can argue that no container was found near the body, but I have to ask myself another important question.
How objective can I be in my personal investigation, when it involves my close family members?

Had Rick have lived 3 more weeks before he died, he would have been 27 years old.
Rick and I share January birthdays, his on the 20th and mine on the 25th. I was 29 when he died, and about to hit the big Three-0.
Rick and I sometimes had one birthday party for both of us, having our birthdays in the same week. I thought it was fun to celebrate our birthdays together.
Nearly every childhood memory I have includes dear brother Rick.
What a sharp severance from one's childhood that was for me.

My Christian friends, and my New Age friends, tell me considering all the wonderful testimonies I have described from his memorial service, that perhaps he did so many good things for so many people that God decided to reward him with an early trip back home. Cindy said the same thing. To tell the truth, I was able to draw comfort from this thought for a long time.

One thing I am sure thankful for out of this episode in my life is in the comfort of knowing that my dear brother had a good send off.
That means more to me than I can say.
Honest, I'm just making an attempt here.
Although I continue to live with an unanswered question, I've had the opportunity to say good-bye to him the best way I could.

I have pictures from my visit to the grave on the following Thanksgiving Weekend, in 1985, when I took a trip to the cemetery with my Dad and my brother Jack, and our dogs, to see the monument that had been placed there. I'm still learning how to put pics in a blogger, so I can't promise right away.

I wish for all my departed friends to have such a final tribute. All of them, except for Debbie, have had a burial or a cremation, leaving a place we can go and visit to remember them.
All we've come up with so far for Debbie is a parking lot in downtown Carrboro.

Special thanks to Randy Danziger and Tom Sisk, who have provided me with more clues than anyone else.
Bill W -


Anonymous said...

After reading your blog I ran a search on "inhaling freon" and came up with this website

The information there is consistent with your experience... many people loose children, teens and other family memebers and never suspect any kind of inhalant abuse.

I read a lot on that site too, and learned things I didn't know. With a young child in the house I will be more vigilant.

Bill Widman said...

Thank you, Anonymous;
For reading my story, for your kind words, and for the link to NIPC. I hope you visit again.