Elaine Walsh’s worst nightmare came true when she got a call from her ex-husband to inform her that their son, 23-year-old Patrick, was dead.
Patrick had texted Walsh the day before, letting her know that he had the flu, but it turned out that— despite her son’s being healthy and in great physical shape— something else was wrong.
As the Daily Mail reports, Patrick and his mother were from the U.K., but he moved to California’s Silicon Valley for a job following his graduation from college. His mother had not seen him since the previous year, after he was involved in a car crash.
Walsh told the Daily Mail that her son Patrick was her best friend.
“He really looked after me and loved his mum. We had a special bond… We were so close, he knew everything about me and I knew everything about him, and I would really miss him.”
Despite being in two different countries, Walsh and Patrick would communicate daily using WhatsApp. Over Christmas, Patrick started to feel ill and told his mother that he caught the flu. When the illness lasted into the month of January, his mother grew concerned.
The night before he died, Patrick texted Walsh:
I’m okay. I just slept most of the day. Sorry, I didn’t mean to worry you. Having the flu and going to work really took it out of me.
Walsh responded by saying that she loved him and that she would speak to him later on. Sadly, she never got that chance.
Hours later, when she hadn’t heard from him, she intuited that something was wrong. She asked her ex-husband, who was American and lived in New Mexico, to look into why Patrick wasn’t responding to her calls.
Her husband contacted the police, who couldn’t get anyone to answer Patrick’s door. They searched his workplace before circling back and eventually finding Patrick, dead, lying in bed with his headphones on, like he was just asleep.
“I knew they were going to find him dead. I drove six hours to my friend Karen’s house… in the hours before Patrick’s dad John told me the news. I said to her, ‘I know I’ve lost him’ and cried all day before it was confirmed at 10 pm that night. I was absolutely devastated. I felt like my whole world had crumbled.”
Patrick went to the gym every day and appeared to be in good health, according to his mom.
“I assumed it was some kind of winter bug he would get over. He was such a fit lad, always going to the gym and working on his six pack.”
It was only discovered after his death that he was showing the flu-like symptoms because of an underlying heart condition, which was unknown to them, the Daily Mail reported.
“It gives me some comfort, knowing he died whilst listening to music. It’s my belief it was a very peaceful end for him.”
Now Walsh advocates and fundraises for defibrillators to be placed in accessible spots for public use. She doesn’t want anyone to have to experience what she did.
“It’s important to get more defibrillators into public places, and if I can help save another life and prevent another family going through what I am going through now, then my son’s death won’t have been in vain; that’s what he would want.”
As the mother described her son: “He had so much love to give—a truly caring and beautiful person.”