Always, always my mother would say, "Curiosity killed the cat..." whenever I asked something she didn't want to answer. Usually that meant it was none of my business, but that never satisfied me. I was not a cat and being curious was simply my nature. Some time in my teens, I learned the second part of that old saying, "Satisfaction brought it back!" And now I was able to not only irritate my mother with my questions, but also "back mouth" her with my retort to her, "Curiosity killed the cat," line. If you glean from this introductory paragraph that my mother and I had a somewhat adversarial relationship, you gleaned somewhat correctly.
Nevertheless, I have gotten no less curious with age and no less determined that "the answer" -- the "satisfaction" -- is necessary to continue on. So it was that when I learned of my husband's passing last month, I needed to know how he died. The coroner telling me that he passed in his sleep was not sufficient to satisfy my curiosity. Since his mother had listed herself as next of kin rather than me, his estranged wife, but wife, nonetheless, I had to battle the Spartanburg, SC coroner's office, jump through multiple hoops, before they would accept I AM the next of kin and therefore the toxicology and pathology reports should come to me. I was successful in my hoop jumping and ten days ago when I spoke with the coroner's investigator, he assured me that as soon as the reports were in, he would send them to me.
My husband was 55 years old and was presenting himself as being in such poor health he could not work, and he and his attorney would have the judge believe and agree that I should support him for the rest of his life. I knew better, or at least I thought I did. John was not in poor health...he was an alcoholic and prescription drug abuser. He didn't WANT to work, because, in his words, "I can't leave my comfort zone." Still, there was a little part of me that wanted to be wrong about him. I truly WANTED him to get a hold of his life and make something of it. And, after being separated for two years at the time of his death, I did, in a way, hope the pathology and toxicology reports would prove me wrong, prove that he had changed.
Yesterday I received the notification that I had a certified letter from the coroner's office to pick up today. I picked it up on my way to physical therapy. I've read only one other such report in my life...that of my brother who died one month before his 25th birthday. His was a vehicular accident and the report was pretty straightforward. John's was full of words I had to look up to fully understand their meaning. Some things sounded just awful, but when I looked them up, turned out to be perfectly normal.
The toxicology report had a list of 11 compounds found in his blood. Each was measured and reported with reference to therapeutic levels, toxic levels and lethal levels. Only two were outside of the therapeutic levels, and one of those was almost at the lethal level. The pathology report found nothing particularly "wrong" with John... In his summary, the examiner wrote, "Therefore, based on the history and the autopsy findings, as stated in this protocol, it is my opinion that this individual died as a result of respiratory insufficiency secondary to synergistic drug intoxication/overdose."
There it was. My curiosity made me want to know. The coroner provided me with the answers, "satisfying" my curiosity. But it is not "satisfying" to discover I was right. Yes, I am satisfied I made the right move in terminating the relationship after unsuccessfully trying for so long to make it work, but it brings me no pleasure to discover I was right. I suppose when, in a couple of weeks, I get the death certificate, I will discover whether the coroner will rule it as intentional or accidental.... either way, the result is the same -- a long list of compounds in blood no longer flowing to provide life. Such a waste...such a waste.