In his method of slipping over the side of life is an indecipherable poetry, one that can only be hinted at by our knowledge of his life's story--a story that is built on the scaffolding of his work as an architect, engineer and builder, as much or more than on his work as a philanthropist (which the media has focused on) or his life as a husband, father, grandfather and patriarch (which his family focuses on). I.E. was an atheist with no hope of an afterlife, so the eternity he chose was that walk across the bridge, his lean over the railing, and the drop toward the fast-moving water. He did not choose pills, nor a fire arm, nor the assistance of others. He chose this, the specifics of which gave his mind--his imagination and passion--something to do. It provided a mantra; it busied his attention with the details of his chosen method of suicide; or, so I imagine.
And the details of his chosen method include not only the care he took in leaving a note to identify himself to police. They also include his having had no qualms about forcing the community to search for his body, something which he, as an engineer (and as a man with a mind much younger, and more capable, than his body), must have well-enough understood.
The difficulty of that search is an element of the difficult poetry of his method, which no hermeneutics will decipher (including mine). Four days after he suicided himself, his body has yet to be recovered. Given the harshness of the elements, it's possible to imagine that it never will be, in which case, the pre-eminent patriarch of the St. Louis Jewish community will have found a way not to have died, at least in the memories of those whose high regard he took seriously. The communal memory of him will not be anchored in the images of nursing homes, physical and mental helplessness, second childishness, or, in a word, dependency. No, he has assured that he will be remembered as having not so much as fallen as having flown off... to... no one would ever be able to say where. Death? Without a body, we'll never be sure. Heaven? He was an atheist through and through. Into immateriality and mystery is as close as we, the community he left behind, will ever come to imagining him, now.
And what shape our spiritual imagination can give to the idea, or realm, of 'immateriality and mystery' can, now, only be found by our meditating on the unutterable audacity, courage-cowardice, indifference to-exhaustion with physical pain, and independence-stubbornness of this final act of a life. I.E. Millstone, a man of action and not of letters, wrote a final stanza more knotted and tantalizing than any modernist masterpiece. I would express grieve, but that is insufficient. I would say "bravo," but that would be too simple. In fact, no word or feeling that any of us, in the community, can have can be sufficient to this moment, this final act in an epic life, this difficult poetry.