It was supposed to be a wonderful weekend. Our family had travelled to Boston to watch our younger son Cesar compete at a regional swim championship meet. On Friday evening March 25, 2011 we had joined over 40 parents and kids from our town swim team in a celebratory dinner at a restaurant. Everyone was joyful, laughing and cheering for the team. Our older son Andy was thrilled to be there with a close friend which whom he planned to tour the city. One month short of turning 15, Andy was sparkling with life, feeling independent and full of boundless possibilities.
After dinner the group returned to our hotel, and while parents socialized together, the kids happily swam and played games at the gym pool. Because Andy was very tall, everyone wanted to be on his shoulders during a game of “chicken fight”. He was laughing, screaming hard and having a blast lifting and splashing little kids into the water.
Andy was an avid athlete, a swimmer and a runner. The high school spring track and field season was starting and he was eager to run a mile under six minutes. Determined to reach his goal, Andy jumped on a gym treadmill and ran hard. His last words, delivered proudly to his friend, were “Uff, I did it". He lay down and was suddenly and inexplicably gone, leaving family and friends in immeasurable pain and confusion.
The final diagnosis took more than eight months: chronic viral myocarditis. Andy could possibly have had the disease for weeks, even months, completely unknown to his family. He did not show any alarming signs but occasionally mentioned shortness of breath during exercise and at night. He had been diagnosed with seasonal asthma and allergies and used an inhaler to treat symptoms. We did not know anything about myocarditis or that its symptoms could be confused with respiratory conditions.