Thursday, May 06, 2010

In Memory of my Brother-In-Law

You just never know what each day will bring or how fragile life is...

I was happily teaching my class on Wednesday morning, working hard to keep the kids focused when my cell phone rang (okay, vibrated). When I saw that it was my wife I put the kids to work and left to the hallway. My wife NEVER calls unless it is a major emergency! When I answered it was silent 0n the other end of the line. I was worried. Finally in a quiet, tear-filled voice my wife told me that her father had just called and that her oldest brother had been in a car accident that morning around 6am and was killed. I was dumbfounded. I think that I simply couldn't accept that. Dustin and I had been really close at one point in our lives, and despite issues that had arose over the years, I felt that we were still good friends. I consoled my wife and she assured me she was fine. I knew that I needed to get home to her, but I had to get things worked out at school.

I returned to the class in a very distracted state. I know that I taught a writing lesson, but I really don't remember much about it. I think the students felt something was off, but didn't know what. I taught the lesson and then got them started on silent reading. I headed down to my principal's office to ask if I might be excused for the rest of the day to go and be with my wife. Thankfully he was there and he immediately went to work to help me get home. I told my class that I had to go due to a family emergency and that I would be back that night because we were doing Country Report Parent Night. They wanted to know what had happened, but I wasn' ready to deal with all the questions, and so I told them that it wasn't really any of their business. (I felt bad about that later, after all, they are like my second family!).

I headed home and found my wife. She was doing laundry and playing with the boys. Though I didn't say anything to her, I was very worried. I knew that she was hurting, but wasn't showing much emotion. I chalk this up to her being in denial. She did cry off and on, but she carried on. I simply tried to hug her often and keep the three little boys busy. We played outside, watered the lawn, made lunch, and play-fought using karate. (That was a really good time for me)

I headed back t0 school shortly after 3pm so I could be there to explain to my class what had happened and to discuss the parent event that evening. Unfortunately upon my return I found one student in the office for being disrespectful, and most of the remainder of my class in trouble for throwing spit-wads, erasers, hats, etc. Not to mention using vulgar language. I was LIVID! They would NEVER have acted that way for me, I was not okay with it! Anyways...moving on...

I explained that my brother-in-law had been killed in a car accident and that I wasn't sure what that would mean for our classroom! It was a good discussion. I was very frustrated with my class. Because the substitute left my classroom with the comment that he had other things he could have been doing other than sit here and feel frustrated, I was left feeling guilty, humiliated, and embarrassed for my classes behavior.

Parent Night went okay. I know better how to do next year's event. Less time. But you live and learn. After parent night it was time to head to the high school. The UVU Celebration Choir was in town to perform a production about Temples and their importance. I wasn't sure if my wife wanted to go or not. She said she did and we went. Can I just tell you what a wonderful experience. Those 60 college age kids with their story and amazing uplifting music was a needed spiritual experience, and one that I think helped my wife. It still felt surreal and I think that I was/am still in denial myself. I have been able to share my thoughts and feelings and concern for my wife with my dear friends at school, but I fear that my wife hadn't really had anyone to mourn with. I encouraged her to go to Grand Junction the next day to be with her family. She consented. I asked my father to drive her as I didn't want her driving.

Today was hard. I know my wife needs to be in Grand Junction with her family, and I miss her terribly. I am heading over as soon as I can get away tomorrow after school. I was also asked to sing for the funeral. So I am going to have to try and choke out a song. I hope that it goes well. I have taken the two oldest kids to dinner and now we are going to settle into a few games and spend some time together.

I just want to leave with the following letter to my brother-in-law:

Dear Dustin,

I don't know where to start. I am still in shock and I don't know when or if I will be able to accept what has happened. All I can hold on to is what I know about God and His eternal plan for his children.
I know that you are a good man and that you loved your family. You are a good daddy and you showed your little ones such great compassion. I learned so much from you in the way of patience and humor.
I will NEVER forget the times we spent at our house in Orem during your visits with your family. From singing Dora the Explorer's "My Bouncy Ball" with Ian's little toy guitar to playing basketball out front (after you and I spent hours trying to put the hoop together and fill that darn base with bag after bag of sand) to staying up to 4am playing the farming game and laughing until we thought we would be sick to playing Hand and Foot (which we called Hand and Bum because we had to sit on the cards to keep our kid's little hands off of them) to driving all over Utah Valley to try and find a good van for your family.
I know that somewhere in the middle of everything things fell apart and our little families sort of feel out of closeness. I was angry and resentful at things that were said and done and I should have just let it go. I am thankful that out of that I was able to reconcile with my mother and father-in-law and move past issues there . I never stopped thinking about you and your family and we loved it in those few instances when we got to see you and I always hoped that our families would be able to resume where we had left off.
I want you to know that I think right now I am angry at you. You knew better than to drive while you were tired and you should have been wearing your seat belt. But I also know that I don't think it would have mattered. I think that our Father in Heaven needed you home. He must have had one very important mission for you to take care of.
I know that I will move on in my feelings and at some point I will truly be able to mourn you. I just hope that it isn't in the middle of the song I am going to be singing at your funeral.

I love you man! I hope you will save my seat like we always joked around about. Please watch over me- I need the extra support!

John (my bouncy bouncy bouncy ball ball ball ball ball....)

P.S. I thought I would add some fun photos so I can keep remembering the happy times we had together.

This was my first river rafting trip. Dustin (bottom left) was nice enough to be in my boat. We had a blast even though I got our boat more wet than the other family boat...

This is the Millett Clan gathered to tell Dustin goodbye when he left for his mission in Japan.

Dustin and his wife, Ashely

Dug this one up from the Family Photo CD. It just looked like the Dustin I always knew.

Here was the Newspaper Report:

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado — A Grand Junction man was killed early Wednesday in a one-car crash on Interstate 70 in the Vail Valley east of Avon.

The Colorado State Patrol reports the accident occurred shortly before 6:30 a.m. May 5.

Dustin Millett, 32, of Grand Junction, was driving west on I-70 in a 2007 Nissan Titan pickup. The truck drifted off the left side of the roadway and collided with a post. According to the State Patrol, Millett overcorrected and swerved back across the westbound lanes. The truck ran off the right side of the roadway, rolling coming to rest on its right side, facing north.

Millett was pronounced dead at the scene. A passenger, James D. Wood, 33, of Montrose, was transported to Vail Valley Medical Center with moderate injuries. Neither man was wearing a seatbelt.


  1. I'm sorry for your family's loss and know that all the good times will definitely be the rock that holds it all together. Remember too that everyone grieves differently. You may not be emotional at first but in time, it will occur. There are different stages of grieving and don't skip them or you will feel cheated. Denial - the first stage; anger - yep that's right up there; you will eventually get to the full acceptance stage but in your own time, not necessarily today or tomorrow - it could be months. The same with your wife.

    When my grandmother was killed in a car wreck two days before Thanksgiving, six weeks after my oldest son was born, I didn't cry until my mother had been on and on about his first pictures. I was in shock because the day they were in the accident was the day I was supposed to put his pictures in the mail to them, but something told me not to.

    You and your family will be fine as will your wife's family. Everyone will go through the grieving process at their own pace. It will hit some of you years down the road or days. Just hang in there and know that it is all natural. I will pray for you and your family and Allisha's as well. My thoughts go to you and yours. Be safe in your travels - E :)

  2. I went to school with Jennie and worked with Dustin. I was so saddened to hear this news. I'm so sorry for the loss in your family. I've lost touch with Jennie and the rest of the girls. Would you please give them my love? I miss them all dearly and think of them often. Also, April Emick sends her love to them. Pleas let them know that as well.

    What a beautiful and heartfelt post! THank you!

  3. That is so sad. I am so sorry. It is so hard when we have to go thru times like this, and I truly mourn with you all. I pray that Heavenly Father will comfort and bless you.

  4. Just know that we love you, John and Allisha. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers!


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