We’re all going to die sometime — hopefully a long while from now and not in too much pain.
When that happens, someone we do not know, who we’ve likely never met before, will determine our cause of death. The overwhelming majority of deaths in this country occur from sicknesses and other natural causes. Some die from accidents. Others are suicides. However, some deaths arouse suspicions. A small percentage even involve foul play — even murder. That’s where the science of forensic pathology comes in. These experts with strong stomachs and a formadible fortitude examine bodies, collect the evidence, and ultimately make determinations which can sometimes produce far broader implications, not just for survivors of the deceased, but for society, as well.
Meeting Dr. Werner Spitz, the father of modern forensic pathology
Forensic pathologists have the coolest patients.
That’s just one of several jokes I heard at the annual conference of forensic pathologists’ held here in Las Vegas a few nights ago.
Forensic pathologists study dead people. Their objective is to determine cause of death. Popular culture knows this squeamish science mostly through popular television shows like “CSI.” However, forensic pathology involves far more than prodding corpses, probing for gunshot wounds, and sawing off skulls to examine brain tissue. As I would gradually come to discover, forensics have become the new frontier of law and order, bolstering the justice portion of the “criminal justice” system, while also sometimes igniting controversy and framing much of what we know of current events. Impartial to politics of sentiment, it’s findings can trigger murder charges, free the innocent, and even assuage the boiling tinder of race riots. At it’s core, forensics can also be the emotional salve of truth for survivors of the deceased, who may wonder what really happened to their friends and loved ones. Forensics is the dispensation of peace.
Nolan Dalla in 1985 at The Dakota, Central Park West in New York City, the spot where John Lennon had been assassinated five years prior.
Thirty-five years ago tonight, on December 8, 1980 at 10:45 pm, a deranged loner stepped onto a dimly-lit New York City side street and fired four shots point blank from a loaded Charter Arms .38-caliber revolver into an inexplicable target that made no sense whatsoever.
Most of us learned of John Lennon’s murder a short time later, not from a breaking news flash, but from the oddest of sources — the rhapsodic voice of ABC sportscaster and quintessential New York journalist Howard Cosell. A thrilling Monday Night Football game between the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins was playing down to the closing seconds of what would turnout to be a game-winning field goal attempt. As the Pats’ placekicker, a native Englishman named John Smith, was taking the field, that’s when Cosell without hesitation broke into the national telecast and stunned millions of listeners on the edge of their seats by announcing news that Lennon had been shot and was confirmed dead.
Someone approached me a few days ago. His comment took me by surprise.
“You’re not at all what you seem to be,” he stated. “You’re not at all what I expected.”
Huh? I wasn’t sure how to take those comments exactly. I’m not what I seem to be? I’m not what he expected? How’s that?
The man went on to explain he’d read my writings. He’d watched some videos, where I often rant about various topics that piss me off. He even mentioned that he’d seen me on the “Poker Night in America” television show, where I occasionally go off the deep end towards the end of the program.
Yet, in person, I was none of those outlandish things he expected. Perhaps he was expecting some kind of crazed lunatic. I guess I turned out to be a little boring to him. I was certainly disappointing.
Today, I’d like to tell you about the most important person in the world to me. Her name is Marieta. We were married 23 years ago on this day.
I wonder. How did the time pass so quickly? Where did the years go?
I remember the first time Marieta came to my eyes, that unexpected instant of perfect clarity, that fleeting moment of pure bliss. She was too beautiful, I thought. I had no shot. I didn’t stand a chance.
But the stars do align sometimes. Lightning strikes.
That first date was awkward. The first kiss even more awkward. Still, I wouldn’t change a thing, not even for an instant. Instead, I’d joyously re-live it over and over, again and again, if only I could. If only I had the power.
These past 23 years haven’t been merely extraordinary. They’ve been unimaginable. Were they always easy? No. Were there challenges? Yes. Finding buried treasure usually requires some serious digging, some personal sacrifice. But in the end, it’s worth it.
Remember the places we went? Remember the things we saw and the people we met over the years? Some remain, and some are gone now. Remember the sights, the sounds, the tastes, the smells, and the soft embrace of our hands joined together so many times as we soaked in the rest of the world?