A Tragic Death
Sunday's Broad Street Run in Philadelphia was marred by a tragedy: the startling, unexplained death of 29-year-old Robert Massaroni, who collapsed and died just moments after finishing the race (10 miles, with a respectable time of 1 hour, 24 minutes, 34 seconds.) (Complete article here.)
I'm going to take a stab at the diagnosis, based on this clue:
He came from a very tight Italian family...Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD)
Passover, 2002: We've finished our seder and are sitting around the family room with overstuffed bellies watching the video Prince of Egypt, which had been the afikomen prize. The phone rings; the world changes forever.
The Jock's indoor soccer team had played that night, obviously without the Jock, who was home for Seder. The younger brother of one of his best friends -- from a close northern Italian family -- had collapsed on the field after a routine play. As the kids gathered around, one of the moms who was a nurse began CPR. Her son told me later they were standing around crying (15- and 16-year-old boys; when was the last time you saw them cry in public?) saying, "Breathe, Danny! Breathe!" The ambulance came; everything was done; nothing was enough. And a 13-year-old boy lay dead.
The community gathered, sharing tears, memories and casseroles. All the soccer kids and their families came to the house. The moms shared tears and kleenex in the kitchen; the kids all clustered together playing hackey-sack; heading a soccer ball around in a small circle; shooting hoops. All activities that kept them in very close physical proximity, yet still involved movement and activity that looked competetive, but really wasn't.
The funeral was awful. His grandparents came over from Italy, and one of the priests did a eulogy in Italian. The idea of burying not just a child but a grandchild ripped my guts out.
The deepest wound was not knowing why. Eventually the word came down, and it was ARVD. The family was tested: the father has it, the mother and brother do not. They tried to get all the cousins checked, too. I don't know their status, as I'm not professionally involved. I'm just one of the parents struggling to hold back tears whenever I think about the fact that Danny would have graduated this year, along with my younger son. Whether I'm right or wrong about Robert Massaroni, I ache for his family. Too young; gone too soon.