Johnny is gone. Johnny M., a fine, funny guy, a man with three children and a stepchild, died of carbon monoxide poisoning in his home in Connecticut sometime Tuesday or Wednesday morning. Some other stories have his name, but I’d rather not have it on the board where it’ll show up on Google or something.
This man knew me before I was born. He was only 58 years old. My Dad knew him for 44 years. 44 years!! He was a student at the high school where my Dad first taught in the Bronx, and they stayed friends the whole time. He helped me get a job in 2001 and I had him as a reference when I was laid off after 9/11. He once came 200 miles for a surprise birthday party for me. He was warm and hard-working and had a great sense of humor, overcoming an abusive and poverty-stricken childhood. He loved computers and model railroads and had travelled extensively. He had done a lot with his life and was so proud of the beautiful house he had bought three years ago…with an attached garage and no carbon monoxide detectors.
His wife came home and left the car in the garage with the motor running and the keys in the ignition. She went to sleep and is now critical. Johnny parked his car in the street and also went in to sleep; he passed away in the same bed as her. Nobody fucking knew a thing until the CO2 built up so much that the neighbor’s detector went off, and he called the cops.
What kind of a pointless way is that to die?? How bad am I for being grateful that Nanette is still unconscious? How evil am I for being angry at this new widow for her goddamn carelessness?
Dad is holding up pretty well–he turns into Efficiency Man during emergencies and, while he had to teach his last class of a summer session today as an adjunct professor, he spent all the time he could calling old friends. He and my Mom (Johnny was at their wedding, and was one of the kids who held me and my brothers when we were born) have cried together and will cry some more. Right now everybody’s in shock. The man had literally hundreds of friends and Dad has called several, most of these middle-aged guys breaking into tears right away.
I’m not sure why this thread is in the Pit. Oh yeah–I haven’t really cried yet. My eyes were moist when Dad told me (at midnight, after picking me up from the subway because we live in the same neighborhood). I’ve sobbed a little but right now I’m mostly–angry? Angry at Nanette? Angry at the fate that has robbed my mother of one of her oldest friends (after a long illness, thought) and my Dad of one of his within three weeks of each other, three weeks before their first child is getting married (my baby brother)? Anger at God? Anger at fate? Angry at myself for feeling mostly numb right now?
My Dad is going to Mass tomorrow morning. I’ll go with him. For his sake, because I don’t quite know what to think about God right now.
If you don’t have a CO2 detector, get one tomorrow and think of Johnny. Thanks.