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Mike
I've received a couple of very polite and hesitant emails from people who didn't know I'd lost a brother and only found out about it when I stuck up the post yesterday. Of course, they were equally polite and careful about asking what happened.

Some of you will have read this before, some of you won't. But I found a post I made on the main message board I was on at the time, back in January 1998.

Date: 17-Jan-98 00:09:00
Sb: Budgie's Brother
Fm: Lee (Budgie) Barnett
To: All

I'm back.

The past week has been a living nightmare and I'm only just getting my head straight.

First off, on behalf of my family, may I thank everyone who has sent messages of condolence, by card, e-mail or telephone. The kindness of people has overwhelmed us all and given us some strength to get through what has been an experience that none of us would wish on our worst enemies.

People have said that they don't know what to say to us or that there are no words.

They're right - to be honest, we don't know what to say to each other, let alone take comfort from others.

For those of you who had followed Michael's progress from his double heart-valve operation in June 1997, you may have been somewhat surprised to learn of Michael's death.

So were we, to put it mildly.

He had been doing so well, having regained all the weight he lost, and had been exercising regularly.

He swum three times a week and had recently recommenced martial arts training.

On Friday 9th January 1998, Mike went for a swim before work. He got out of the swimming pool in some distress apparently and the Lifeguards went to him. As they reached him, he collapsed. They saw his scar from the operation and called for an ambulance. By the time it had arrived, they had had to resuscitate him twice. The ambulance rushed him to hospital and had to resuscitate him a further twice during the journey. The hospital tried once again, but Michael did not revive. And then they stopped.

My brother was dead.

The official reason was (for those with medical knowledge) :
(a) Sudden Cardiac Arrhythmia and Left Ventricular Failure
(b) Ischaemic Myocardial Fibrosis
(c) Massive Cardiomegaly and Aortic Valve Failure
We later found out that Michael was a walking time bomb and that he could have died at any time. The only crumbs of comfort about his death were that he died doing what he wanted and that it was quick.

Michael Russell Barnett was born in 1959 and was 38 when he died. He leaves a wife, Lynne, and two young boys, Josh, aged 9 and Luke, aged 6.

I've lost a brother, a best friend who taught me so much. The gap left by his loss can never be filled. He was, is and always will be my hero.

Budgie

Update as of 11th January 2006: In August last year, Lynne remarried, a hell of a nice fella by the name of Bruce. And Mike's son's have grown into young men of whom Mike would be proud. Josh is approaching his 18th birthday, Luke his 15th.
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