Post #11 “16 Seconds”
A short time after David died, Trish went to the cleaners and picked up my shirts. She put them in my closet for me like normal. The next morning I was taking the plastic off the group of clothes and looking for a shirt to wear to the work for the day. That’s when I saw it. It was the red shirt David was wearing his last day at work. The one he came home in and sat at that dinner table with us in. I held it in my hands and just looked at it. I thought about the giant boy in that shirt. I put my face in it and simply began to sob. I cried harder then I have ever cried in my life. I don’t know why, I am not sure how to explain it. I just stood there with his shirt and my face in it and just cried. Oh man I missed that sweet boy. I just couldn’t believe it was all true. As my face was buried in that shirt, I kept thinking of him riding home on his motorcycle from work. He was so happy to see the Missionaries and to be home. The one thing everyone knew about David was he loved being at home. He loved being with his family. That shirt still hangs in my closet to this day. I can’t think of a reason I would remove it. All in all it felt good. Sometimes I am very grateful for the deep and sometimes painful grief I feel. It makes me somehow feel connected to him. Maybe because I can’t see him or hug him or talk to him, when I feel these emotions it ties me to him. Maybe I am crazy, but that’s how it feels.
I was told by the detective to wrap up the investigation I would need to get a copy of the Coroners Investigation report a toxicology report and the autopsy report. I would need to get copies of these to the Detective heading up David’s case. That was not something I was looking forward to. I called down to the Coroners office to see if the reports were ready. They said they were and I could come down and get them for a fee of $40 cash.
I decided to go by on my way into work. I arrived and found a parking spot. I stood in the parking lot and surveyed the building. It was fairly large. On the back it had a very large row of what I recognized as walk-in coolers and freezers. I just stood and stared at them. I knew that my Son had been put in those coolers/freezers. In fact he was there and in them before my wife and I even knew he had been killed. I am not sure I can explain the emotions I had, it was just bad, horrifying, I don’t know, it wasn’t a good thing.
I walked into the offices and told them my name and what I was there for. The lady helping me was an older lady; she had a nice smile and was friendly. I thought to myself, she sure has a tough job. Dealing with people in my situation everyday could not be easy. When I told her David’s name, she looked up and straight at me and said, Oh of course I know this case. I wasn’t sure what to make of that. However, she seemed touched and her demeanor changed to that of a very caring grandma. She could not have been sweeter to me. She gave me the Manila envelope and told me how sorry she was. I thanked her and walked out with the envelope. I walked over and got into my truck. I was not ready to read this. You have to understand. From what we had been told, David had been going 45 or so MPH when entering the intersection. When the lady pulled out in front of him, he slammed on his breaks, the bike went down and he slid along the asphalt for 15 feet or so. He hit the back corner panel at a high rate of speed. That’s it. So, in my mind I saw my son laying in the street with broken bones, lacerations, horrible road rash and who knows what else. So for a couple of weeks that is all I had in my mind about what had happened. I would often think, how long did he feel the pain, how long did he lay there and know what was wrong with him? The thought of this beautiful 20-year-old boy, laying there broken, bleeding was more then I could consider. Now in front of me was the reports that would tell me exactly what happened, and would describe him and his injuries from head to toe. I did not want to open that package. However, I knew that Trish would want to read it right away. So, I needed to read it so I could prepare myself to comfort and be there for her. I folded my arms and prayed. I plead with the Lord to give me the strength to read what needed to be read, and to be able to be strong for my family no matter what it said. I closed my prayer and opened the envelope.
I first read the toxicology report. It was mostly what we knew, David had no drugs or any other substance in his system. That was no surprise. I then read the accident report. For the most part it was what we had been told by the Detective and the lady from the Coroners office. Then I read the autopsy report. The Dr. was very… medical in his terminology. I think I literally held my breath the entire time. To save the reader the details I will summarize his findings. Basically David had very bad road rash. His skull and brain were intact (he was wearing a full face helmet), he had no broken bones or lacerations. All of his organs were intact and not injured. Of course while I am reading this, I am asking then why in the heck did he die. He said that David died of a tear in his descending aorta caused by the blunt force trauma. This is fatal 80-90% of the time. So the bottom line was, David had very bad road rash. If he possibly had turned another way when he hit, it may not have torn his aorta. Said differently, if his aorta hadn’t torn, he could have walked away. He would have had some horrible road rash. However, everything else in his body was normal. I sat there and took it all in. I wasn’t sure what to think. I was so very grateful that he didn’t have broken bones, torn organs or something worse. That brought peace to me immediately, all that I had been imagining and the nightmare I had lived in my head was gone. He died in about 2-3 minutes of hitting her car. He did not suffer long. Because the paramedics could no way know his aorta had torn, they continued to work on him until they arrived at UMC medical center. He was there only 6 minutes when the Doctor called it, his time of death 9:06pm. We now know through other experiences I will share later, he was dead and his spirit had left his body at the scene of the accident. I bowed my head and thanked the Lord for this really great news. Now think about that, I had just read my sons autopsy report and it was great news. It’s funny how life turns. I was grateful and sat in my truck with a feeling of relief. I couldn’t wait to call Trish and the other members of my family and tell them. This was really good news and I considered it another tender mercy.
The intersection David was killed in is literally a mile from our home. We travel through this intersection multiple times everyday. Because David was killed on a Wednesday at 8:36pm, for the first couple of Wednesday’s we would group text each other and count down to the time. Then we would express love to each other and sign off for the night. Other then the day we found out on that Thursday I had not stopped in the intersection to get out of my truck. I wanted to go to it and be there on a Wednesday at the time he was killed. So, on a Wednesday I arrived in the intersection, parked my truck on the side of the road and walked to the corner. I stood there and imagined that night. I thought about how he felt. He was coming back from working out and I am sure anxious to get home to his moms big steak dinner she had waiting for him, but probably more he was looking forward to talking to Miranda. The night was warm and it had to feel good to ride at night. He loved his motorcycle and I knew he would have been very happy.
At 8:34pm I looked down the road and imagined him coming towards the intersection. It would have been a nice fall evening and I am sure the wind on his body felt good. I saw him in my mind come into the intersection, I saw in my mind the lady in her Jeep Liberty sitting there with her blinker on and then turning slowly into the middle of the intersection. I thought of what I had read from the medical examiners report and what the detective had told me. I saw David hit his breaks, I saw his bike go down, I saw him slide on the asphalt and then hit the side of the car. Still to this day are dark spot remains where the men from the city had painted over the outlines. I could still see standing there where they had outlined where he was lying, where his bike was. Just about that time I felt a hand on my shoulder. I wasn’t startled but just turned to see who it was. It was a dear friend of mine. He had seen me and stopped. I smiled at him and I tried to talk. With tears in his eyes, he said he couldn’t stay and talk, because he couldn’t talk, he was crying. He gave me a big hug, told me he loved me and he left. That was just what I needed at the perfect time. I went back to staring at the corner but the moment was gone and honestly I didn’t want to think any more. I walked to my truck and leaned again the front and just considered all that had happened. Another one of my close friends was driving by, saw me and stopped. I told him why I had come and that I just needed to be in that intersection on a Wednesday at the time David was killed. While standing at the corner, I thought about how long the light stayed green in both directions, which was the circumstances under which the lady would turn. I got my iPhone out and timed it. I did it over and over and over again. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. That light stayed green in both directions for only 16 seconds. That was it 16 seconds. I stood there and thought about all the things that had to happen for David to be hit in that intersection at exactly the time he was. If he stopped for a drink at the drinking fountain, he would have missed her. If he had done a few more reps he would have missed her, if he helped me clear the dishes for just a little longer, if the women had been delayed at her house for just a minute and so my thinking went.
Here is what we have learned since this began. It was David’s time. We were told that there aren’t many “real” accidents. It was David’s time. Taking into consideration all that I knew and all that I had read, I knew it was true. I knew it was his time. I don’t know why it was his time, I still think, ponder and pray about that. What I do know is that if the Lord wanted to save David, all it would have taken is a 1-16 second delay. I know that he could have and would have done it, if it weren’t David’s time.
You see, David had been close to losing his life 3 other times and was miraculously saved. I will write about that another time.
I know that even though my hurt is deep and the ache is unrelenting, I know that David lives; I know that I will see him again. I am grateful for the knowledge I have of a plan bigger then me, one that is filled with continued joy and love. Those are things I know for sure. I look at all the experiences I had in those first couple of weeks and realize I was never alone. We are never alone and we are always loved. I am a very blessed man.