Do You Forgive Him?
His truck was travelling at about 110 km/hr (65mph).
My family, in a much smaller car, was also travelling at the same right of speed. My family did not have a stop sign.
In an instant, one innocent mistake resulted in a t-bone collision.
The truck hit my mom and sister directly. My mom died instantly, my sister died on the way to the hospital.
My Dad survived bruised and broken with visible scars to this day.
My brother survived, with a less then ideal prognosis. He made a full recovery but still carries visible scars.
I was not in the car. I had no physical healing and to this day I have no visible scars.
Innocent lives were lost and a family, my family, fell apart.
All individuals of the truck had injuries but all survived.
I’ve been asked many times in my life, do you forgive him? Most recently by my counsellor. (As I said yesterday, that last appointment was pretty epic).
The short answer:
Yes. I do forgive him.
The long answer:
I realized within days of The Accident that having a heart full of hate and anger was not a life I was willing to lead. In my heart, I forgive him within days/weeks. I always understood The Accident to be the result of an innocent mistake, not an act of malice or viciousness and because of that I could forgive him. I deserve better then that and so did he. People make mistakes, it’s part of life and death sometimes too.
In part I was able to forgive him because holding onto anger was not the life my mom or my sister would have wanted for me. I was brought up understanding compassion and love, and forgiveness. Somehow in those very first days After The Accident, I knew if I had any chance of surviving and learning to live in my new reality, I had to let go of the hateful and angry emotions. And to do so, the only way I could was to forgive him. I didn’t have to wish him well, in fact I didn’t/don’t often even think of him with specific emotion. But, I knew in my heart I had to forgive him. And so I did.
Also, alcohol was not involved. I’m sure I’d feel very different if The Accident was the result of alcohol because alcohol based car accidents are just so simple to responsibly prevent.
Instead, he made a mistake. He never intended for The Accident to happen. For whatever reason he took his eyes of the road and he missed a stop sign and at that very moment he hit my family. But, I don’t believe for a second he intended to do it. In a second his mistake destroyed my families life, ended my childhood and literally ended my mom and sister’s lives, but it also ruined his. He had to live with that guilt, because no-matter how you look at it, he was driving and didn’t stop when he was supposed to and people died as a result, including a young teenager. And even more, he left a family broken and children motherless.
I never met the driver of the truck. I don’t even know his name and have no picture of his face in my mind. I have no idea what I’d say to him if we ever did meet. I wouldn’t downplay the hurt, the loss, the life-long grieving. But, I know I don’t hate him. I know that I wouldn’t have wanted him to suffer and be haunted for his mistake. But I also realize for the majority of people that’s not the type of mistake you just forget about and I wouldn’t have wanted him to forget either. Had we met when I was a teenager, I don’t know if I would have ever had the courage to tell him to his face that I forgive him. But if I met him today, I believe would. I know it wouldn’t fix him, and it would fix my reality, but it would probably help both of us continue to heal.
But the reality is that I will never meet him. Not as a direct result of injuries from The Accident, he died a few years later while I was still in high school. I remember my Dad in passing mentioning to me that he died. I distinctly remember feeling almost emotionless, I wasn’t sad nor was I somehow relieved or satisfied in anyway. More then anything I remember noticing how strange it was that I didn’t feel anything. It was almost like I was empty. I was told once he was never able to live again after the accident, and somehow that impacted me. He truly didn’t mean to do it and he probably tortured himself emotionally over it. I have my own guilt about not being in the car with my family, but I could not imagine living with the guilt that I imagine he did and nor would I want to.
Yes, sometimes I’m upset that he made that mistake and if I visit their graves I am always angry. But I’m upset at the consequences. I am not angry with him. And for me, that’s a big distinction.
And so today, just as I decided years ago, I know in my heart that I forgive him.
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