On February 27, 2009, I awoke at 5 a.m. to a call from my daughter in law saying that she and my son (37 years old and perfectly healthy) were on their way in an emergency vehicle to the Lakeland General Hospital. I was 60 miles away living in Orlando so I awoke my granddaughter and we got in the car and drove there as fast, but safely, as we could. The entire journey, I kept imagining (because my daughter in law told my my son was not responding to treatment) that I would arrive, hold his hand, tell him I was there and he would squeeze it. When I arrived I asked for him and one of his neighbors came to the waiting room to tell me he had passed away. The grief was overwhelming, but I had to hold it together for the sake of my granddaughter and daughter in law. He, according to the medical examiner in a report issued at least one month later, had died of an aneurism of the sinus of valsalva, whatever that is). The next days were something of a blur with his friends calling, coming by and comforting my daughter-in-law, his two young children (ages 5 and 2) and myself. More than 1500 people attended his funeral service, which was held four days later. When everyone was gone, the hard work began and continues to this day trying to do what he would want me to do: "buck up Mom; I need you to be happy" as he was famous for telling me whenever I got discouraged over anything. But sometimes, like what would have been his 38th birthday yesterday, that is just so darn hard to do. The only solace I have found is that in his brief time here on earth, he touched many souls as evidenced by the outpouring of grief at his passing. And, by normal standards, he lived five or six lifetimes, always smiling, helping others, traveling and doing whatever he could to to lift the spirits of those around him. As the minister said at his service "Randy got it." He meant he understood what is important in life. That is something I am struggling to do as I walk through this horrible grieving process.
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