So many of the people I run into are missing happiness. They don't know what it is, so when a stranger walks by and strikes up a conversation they sometimes are able to gain that brief taste of happiness. David Milliken (above) gave what happiness he had away to others.
Despite the fact that David spent nearly all 24-hours of the day inside his sleeping bag while sitting on a chair near the Tennessee State Capital in Nashville, TN - he would always smile when someone passed by. It was as if David attempted to hide pain from a past life and put on a smile for others, never asking for anything. So, what was that past life? Most of us will never know as his life is a mystery to strangers and even those who talked to him on a regular basis. Even David's very own brothers in Puryear, Tennessee admit not knowing the true David and not seeing David in some 20-years. That is until they got the call from a complete stranger informing them that David was hospitalized the morning after Christmas when he was found unresponsive in his chair.
Over the days that followed David lost weight and remained in a vegetative state, but then something miraculous happened. David awoke. His brothers visited him in the hospital and he appeared to be doing much better. His brothers talked about their life growing up asking what happened to David as they thought that he had died and quit trying to find him some 10-years ago. Only to find out later, that David had quietly been sitting in his favorite spot day after day, month after month and year after year. People who had brought David food over the years then started showing up at the hospital and cards started arriving in the mail. Cards came from as far away as Texas and prayer request were entered into church directories in places like Oregon, places that David had never even visited.
After the friends gathered and family members were re-united, our friend David quietly went back to sleep. 58-year old David Milliken quietly passed away on the evening of February 2, 2015 inside the ICU at the Nashville General Hospital. On one side of him, a friend held his right hand. On the other side of David sat a nurse hand in hand, who witnessed the love shown by 50 or more total strangers stopping by to check on him day after day. I only say strangers because few of us really knew him, but we all had a hand in helping David in some little way. From an extra blanket to put in his sleeping bag, to a simple fist bump - we all had a role in making him feel loved.
David released a final breath of life around 9pm, Monday, February 2, 2015. From that night forward, David will never sit on a cold metal bench again, nor have to feel the pain of severe frostbite, pneumonia or anything else for that matter. Today, Davids bench that sits about 200-yards away from the Tennessee State Capitol is empty.
As David always stated when friends and I would bring him food, "Love ya' man." He would then close the conversation with a lite fist bump... "Love ya man, love ya."