For weeks I have entertained rational and irrational explanations of Dave's death. To write some of the scenarios, would only solidify how crazy a person becomes when they have unthinkable loss and very few answers as to the simple question of how did he die? Four and a half weeks of a sleep deprived mind, grasping at answers, can birth some pretty creative explanations. But my logical mind always came back to the same two answers. It either had to be some sort of a stroke, or a massive heart attack. Something that killed him before he even hit the ground. He had clearly fallen on his face and there was no evidence that he tried to catch himself. My biggest fear was that the autopsy would show nothing internal and that it would have to be chalked up to a freak accident where he slipped on the ice and for some reason was not able to get his hands out in front of him. I knew I wouldn't be able to live with that answer, because Dave was about as spry as they come.
Each time the freak accident fear rattled me, (which was about 30 times a day) I thought about our first hike together and how I was so taken by his spryness and his mountain skills. We hiked from a spot off of Rampart Range Road, through Kings Canyon, all the way down to Glenn Eyrie. Near the bottom of the hike there is an area called the punchbowls. Anyway, to get across the punchbowls, you either have to swim through them or scale the sides of the rock canyon. I knew I wasn't going to be donning my bathing suit on a first hikedate, so me and my friends chose the non swim route. My friend, Marti, was clinging to the side of the canyon, when a dog emergency unfolded across the punchbowls. As Marti shakily clung to the rock, Dave literally just climbed right over her. We were all like, "How did he make that look so easy?" Quite frankly, he made Marti look a little pitiful. I seriously remember thinking. "Impressive, Dave . . . very impressive." Just to finish that story up, at the end of the hike Dave and his friends were going to a Mexican restaurant near the start of the hike. I'm sure Dave had no idea that my interest was piqued, when I so casually said that maybe I could swing by (it was a 40 minute drive up the pass) and catch dinner with him and his friends if I had a few extra minutes that night. Oh, I miss him. I literally miss him so much while I write all of this, that I wouldn't be surprised if I throw up. I'll let you know if I do.
Back to the autopsy results. I still don't totally get everything, because it was written in official doctor language, but the gist of it is that he DID die of a cardiac something or another. He had a mitral valve prolapse, which is typically benign, but in some people, it can cause sudden death, as in this case. We never knew that he had this heart defect. Sometimes it can be treated and sometimes it can't. Obviously, none of that matters now. We didn't know. I wish we did, but we didn't. I can't even think or talk about it right now.
I remember, in the hospital, that wretched morning, yelling over and over that I should have driven him to work. That he would still be here if we had just piled into the car and I had taken him to work. Maybe he still would be here, but only until some other random moment. Dave's death, in and of itself, does not make me feel protected by God - at all. But, there is no denying that God was protecting and even preparing me and my family. I mean, what if the five of us all did pile into the car that morning and Dave drove like he ALWAYS did? What if he hadn't run to work that morning and he was still at home getting ready and he died right in front of our kids? There could have been some pretty terrible places and times for this to happen.
In terms of God preparing our family, a week earlier, I had written a blog post that seems almost prophetic, now. (Not that I really think it was). I had written about how nothing was safe except for the knowledge of Jesus Christ and his saving grace! And within a couple days before December 21st, Leah randomly asked, "when are we going to die?" I remember telling her that it could be 10 seconds from now, or 100 years from now. I went on to explain that only God knows when we will die, but the great thing about it, is that it is not the end of life, it is actually the beginning of life in heaven. I remember thinking, "Gosh - dying really isn't that bad of a deal." I totally take that back now! I hate it - death is the enemy. I still can't help saying, though, that heaven is going to be awesome. No more death, no more pain, no more sorrow AND Dave will be there. I miss him.