I can hardly believe I'm doing this. According to what I've read recently, this is how men usually process grief--by going over the details of what happened, rather than exploring the emotions connected with the event.
It's like this: when the possibility was first mentioned that Dad may have died BEFORE his vehicle collided with another, I resisted the idea. It seemed too much like grasping for straws that might make Dad's actions look more excusable. I believe in sticking to facts and letting the chips fall where they may in matters like this. The more I learn, however, the more plausible it seems to me that a medical event actually preceded the accident, and that Dad was likely at least incapacitated before the collision, if not already snatched away to heaven.
Let's get the hearsay component of this scenario out of the way right now. This needs to be checked out further, but a witness reportedly said that Dad drifted into the intersection rather than stopping and proceeding as he would normally have done. (We have not seen the accident report that might include this detail if it actually happened.) That detail meshes with some other details that are on the record. The news reports said that he failed to stop--not that he stopped and then pulled into the path of oncoming traffic.
Dad had a torn (ruptured) aorta, as shown in the autopsy. The aorta supplies blood to the lower part of the body. It is the largest blood conduit of all. Initially I thought it's quite unlikely that this ruptured spontaneously since Dad routinely had low blood pressure readings. Then I learned that at the last doctor's visit his reading was 172/88, which was higher than before. It did not cause the doctor a lot of concern, but he suggested that it be monitored for several weeks. That did not happen, since the family member who has the equipment and skills to do that was dealing with medical issues in her own household and it required travel elsewhere. I suspect Dad's blood pressure continued to stay elevated and perhaps became more so.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, the medical investigator on the scene said right away that Dad's upper body color was not typical of an accident victim (it was purple), and his facial cuts did not bleed as such cuts normally do. Both of these manifestations can occur if the blood supply to the upper body is cut off--even in the absence of external trauma. A nurse in our extended family once cared for a patient who died while in the hospital of a ruptured aorta. The purple coloration was present in that patient.
Another bit of information is that Dad had an aneurysm in the aorta (a balloon in the wall) several years ago. When his doctor saw it, he referred him to a cardiologist. Before Dad saw the cardiologist, he requested and received anointing. The cardiologist found no sign of an aneurysm. "These things don't go away by themselves," he said. Dad believed that the Lord had healed him. I suspect that the same mechanism that produced the original aneurysm resulted in a rupture on the day Dad died. People seldom recover from such an event, and it actually feels like a mercy that it didn't happen at a time and place where heroic medical measures might have been automatically undertaken--probably at great expense and to no avail.
Only yards before Dad approached the stop sign where the collision occurred he had successfully negotiated a stop and a right turn. It seems unlikely to me now that he would not have stopped at the next stop sign if he was in full possession of his faculties. He was absentminded, but failing to stop at all at this very familiar intersection seems out of character for Dad.
Does any of this matter? Certainly it doesn't change the outcome. Dad is as gone one way as another. Yet I'm surprised at how comforting I find it to think that perhaps the violence of that crash of vehicles happened after Dad's spirit had already taken flight. I don't think I fully realized how the means of death can complicate survivors' dealing with the death. A violent death is just so very unpleasant to think about.
The full autopsy report has not been completed. Initially I thought it would not likely give clear answers about the cause of death, since Dad had multiple injuries that would have taken his life. Others, however, who know more about autopsy reports than I do say that it's often surprising what can be concluded from the available information. So maybe we will know with more certainty than I initially anticipated. I'll let you know whether I was on track here or not after that happens.
I have the worst cold I've had in a decade, along with a fierce cough. I brought it home from Bangladesh and thought that it was finally improving last week. Then it came roaring back. I'm ready to be done with it--yesterday. I can't cuddle the new grandson like this. Not to mention I have so much school work to do, and so little energy to get it done . . .
Do I sound whiney? I'm sure I do. Pray for us.
While Hiromi and I were shopping at Walmart on Friday evening (our one big shopping day of the year when Hiromi gets 25% off everything) a mystery was solved concerning the Hutchinson News
article about Dad after his death. We couldn't figure out why anyone thought to do such an article.
Right there beside the fresh vegetables, a gentleman asked Hiromi if he was David L. Miller's brother-in-law. "No. I'm his son-in-law," Hiromi said. The man went on to say that he was the one who called the News
to tell them they should do an article on Dad. He must have noted Hiromi's name tag at another time at Walmart and made the connection from the obituary. Otherwise, how would he have known to talk to us?
Quite some time ago he had been the managing editor of the News
when Dad and a Knepp from Yoder and one other man whose name Mike Welch (as he identified himself when I inquired) came to the News
hoping to get the help of the newspaper in de-mystifying the Amish. Under Welch's direction they did several fairly extensive articles. I suspect it was at this time that they did an entire section in a separate insert. Mike was impressed that Dad apparently had the respect not only of the Amish in the Pleasantview area, but also Yoder. I thought to myself and that was one of his smaller circles . . . little do you know , . .
"I knew those people there now [at the News
] didn't know who he [Dad] was," Mike said, "And I thought it would be a shame not to do an article."
Again, knowing how the newspaper article happened doesn't really change anything, but having mysteries solved is really satisfying.
I think this will be one of the delights of heaven: mysteries revealed all over the place!