The House


Sad, Sad News

Hi, this is Alan Sepinwall, posting in Matt's place for reasons you'll understand in a minute. He's asked that I keep the lights on here while he's away, and since I can't pretend to be as smart about the cinema as him, I'm going to be relying on suggestions from you in the comments about things to post.

Anyway, I have some very bad news to share: Matt's wife Jennifer Dawson died suddenly Thursday evening. This is Matt's account of what happened, which he's not up to writing about himself for obvious reasons:

Sometime between 4:30 and 5 p.m., she was home with their kids, Hannah, 8, and James, 2. Hannah was playing downstairs, James was watching a show on Noggin, and Jennifer was online looking up information for the family's next trip to Disney World. Around a quarter to 5, Hannah came upstairs to ask Jennifer a question and found her lying on the floor in the office. She wasn't moving or breathing. Hannah tried to wake her up—yelling at her, slapping her in the face, pushing her—but nothing worked, so she ran upstairs to the apartment of Matt's brother Richard. Richard came down, called 911 and began performing CPR for 15-20 minutes while waiting for the ambulance. He got no response, nor did the paramedics when they arrived, and Jennifer was taken to Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, where she was pronounced dead of causes unknown. (For now, the chart lists "cardio-pulmonary" as cause of death, which, as the doctor put it, "That's a fancy way of saying we don't have a fucking clue.") Jennifer was 35, in good health, didn't drink, smoke or take drugs, so there will be a medical examination to find out what happened.

While all this was going on, Matt was standing at the Washington St. bus stop by the Ledger newsroom, waiting to begin the long journey home. Richard called him and told him that Jennifer had fainted and that he should get home ASAP. As Matt traveled by bus, then PATH, then subway train, he kept calling for updates, but there weren't any. Finally, when he arrived in Brooklyn, Richard told him to come to the hospital, where they broke the bad news.

Jennifer didn't want a burial or a funeral, so she's going to be cremated, and once Matt figures out where to scatter the ashes, there will be a memorial service, probably a few weeks from now. When I have more details, I'll let you know. In lieu of flowers, he asked for donations to be made to the Red Cross, which was one of Jennifer's favorite charities.

Matt isn't doing well, as you can imagine, but as he put it, "We're very pragmatic people, emotionally at least, the two of us were. I'm not in any sort of mindset where I'm thinking about large mystical issues or the grieving process or blah blah blah. Right now I'm looking through the schedule and seeing what bills were paid when; a lot of the practical things were on her, and now they fall to me."

James is too young to understand what's happened (when he saw his mother on the floor, he started making a snoring sound, his way of saying, "Mommy's sleeping"), and Matt says Hannah is holding up okay: "Obviously, we're all devastated, but Hannah is her mother's daughter and is very tough."

If you want to send cards, the address is 343 State Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217. Matt's also on e-mail a lot, either his work address (mseitz@starledger.com) or his home one (reeling@aol.com).

Feel free to forward this news to anyone you think would want to know.

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TAGS: jennifer dawson, matt zoller seitz








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