This morning I finally received the autopsy report. The attached letter read “It is unfortunate that it took so long, but there have been articles in the local press about the backlog in the courts and Medical Examiner’s office, so apparently this has been an issue for many people.” I am grateful to the embassy staff for their perseverance of effort in securing this document.
While my Spanish skills are poor, I can read it enough to know that the cause of death was the “toxic effect of carbon monoxide.”
In the days and weeks following his demise, we wondered if Patrick had learned of inoperable tumors just before he ended his life. However, according to the report there were no signs of cancer. The examiner found a bit of anthracosis in the lungs as one would find in a heavy smoker, and a bit of arterial plaque normal for men his age, but nothing in the report indicated anything that would have pushed him over the edge.
In the final analysis, the report reveals nothing and means nothing. We already know, and have known for almost two years, that he is gone, that the vibrancy of his being has been extinguished.
A legal document like this sheds no light on the situation, nor can it capture the profound sense of loss we feel. Like his birth and death certificates and his passports, the autopsy only offers us legal proof of that which we all know: he once walked this earth.
Nonetheless I am thankful to have received this report. This document, like all the others, provides us with another wee bit of closure.