The world was shocked over the death of actor James Gandolfini, who passed away last night after an apparent heart attack. Horribly, it appears that it was Gandolfini's 13-year-old son Michael who was with him when the actor fell ill, and who called for help. I can't imagine the terror this poor child went through.

Gandolfini, who became famous playing Mob boss Tony Soprano, had been in Italy to attend a film festival and to "reconnect" with his Italian roots (his family reportedly owns land in Milan) when tragedy struck. Reportedly, Gandolfini had been out during the day with son Michael as well as other family members, including his sister, his wife Deborah, and 1-year-old daughter Liliana.

Gandolfini reportedly went into distress while in the bathroom of his hotel room and it was son Michael who heard Gandolfini in distress and alerted hotel staff. The actor was said to be alive but in cardiac arrest as hotel employees rushed to give him CPR. Said Gandolfini's assistant, Tom Richardson:

We all had a marvelous day together, and when he returned to the hotel Jimmy [Gandolfini] went to the bathroom and that is where something happened. His sister said he was still alive when the ambulance took him away.

However, at the hospital, doctors were unable to resuscitate him.

It's always a tragedy to lose a parent when you're young -- but to be witness to your parent's demise, to try to help, to be ultimately unable to help, there is no doubt this is going to affect Michael for the rest of his life. He may even be haunted by the idea that there was something more he could have done. But he was a young hero by getting help there quickly.

A friend of the actor's had posted on Facebook about how excited Gandolfini was to have a "boy trip" with his son to Italy. He also mentioned what a "great dad" he was -- and how Michael loved to played soccer. Pictures of Gandolfini with his son over the years show an amazingly involved father, whether he was chatting with Michael on set, playing with him in a park, or walking down the street with him.

Sadly, Gandolfini's infant daughter will never know her father -- though certainly both children will be able to see him in his iconic roles, which will live on forever. That is, unfortunately, a pale substitute. Thoughts are with James Gandolfini's family.

Have you lost a parent?

 

Image via Splash News