UNION CITY, Ind. — This is the first year in which David Miller has taken part in the Survivors of Unspeakable Loss (SOUL) Walk at Harter Park here this past Sunday.
He walked in honor of his parents, the late Joann and Ramon Miller, both of New Paris. His mother died in her sleep in 2010 and his father died two years earlier of complications in a car accident. A sister, Cheryl, also died the same year as his mother, he said.
“Hopefully this walk will help me build strength and help me come to terms that they’ve actually passed,” he said with tears welling up in his eyes in an interview prior to the walk. “Both were unexpected deaths.”
Miller, 49, is a retired firefighter/disabled. Also a retired ordained minister (in 1992), he led the group Sunday in prayer.
When asked if being a minister has helped in his healing, he responded, “Yes and no. We still ask God why. It would be different if both were sick and hospitalized. It would have been easy to accept. The Bible tells us that we’re all appointed to die.”
His mother, he said, was a Christian.
“Being a Christian, she was always afraid to hug her pastor but, before she died, she gave him a hug,” Miller recalled. “The pastor said, ‘You know she was always scared of hugging me because I’m a pastor. I’ll never forget that Sunday and she said she loved me.’ She went home, wrote a letter and my cousin saw her writing it and put it in a prayer box. I never thought anything about it until we saw the note. It said to watch over her kids and protect them. She died the next Sunday.”
He thinks his mother died of a broken heart.
“My parents were divorced, but they played Yahtzee everyday,” he said.
His father’s death was totally different.
“Seeing my dad after the accident was hard. He kept holding my hand telling me not to leave the room,” said Miller. “I am a little more at peace about Mom not being here anymore because she was a Christian and believed in the Lord. I believe I will see both of my parents again.”
The 1985 National Trail High School graduate said he reads a poem he wrote at the funerals he officiates.
Miller said his disability stems from a Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome diagnosis.
“It’s different for everybody,” he said of that malady. “I have flashbacks from fire runs. People don’t understand. I come to the conclusion that we’re always going to have PTSD the rest of our lives.”
He said he was a little nervous about giving the brief speech he was going to do before he said the prayer Sunday.
“It will give me strength in reassuring the walkers we have someone to lean on,” he said in that interview. “God’s the only strength and resource we can call on. Another source of comfort is drawing strength from one another.”
Meeting Darla Bowman, founder of the local SOUL group, has helped Miller deal with the loss of his family members, his PTSD and life in general.
“There is nothing I can worry about saying to her that she is judgmental,” he said. “I have compassion for people. Darla got me involved with soldiers, with SAVE (Serving All Veterans Everywhere) and now SOUL.”
Miller met Bowman this summer and was so smitten by her that he proposed to her on Sept. 11 during a vacation in Myrtle Beach with some friends. She accepted. They are planning to marry April 30, 2016.
“I have big shoes to fill,” he said in that presentation he made Sunday referring to Ben Bowman, Darla’s husband who died earlier this year after complications following a lung transplant.”Each of us here are honoring a loved one who will always and forever be in our hearts and minds.”
Miller has helped Darla in memorializing Ben both at home and at the cemetery. The two men share the same birthday; Ben’s on July 20, 1948; and his is July 20, 1966. Darla is also finding out almost daily that these two men in her life have the same likes in foods as well as other similar interests.
He and Darla have shed lots of tears in the short time they’ve known each other.
“Ben will forever be a part of me and my family,” she said.
Miller, in addition to offering prayer Sunday, also took part in the butterfly release afterwards, something of which Ben was always in charge. Helping out was Darla’s brother, Danny Foster.
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