Chris, 42, Salt Lake City, Utah
On February 9, 2007, my family was hit by an allegedly drunk teenage driver, killing my wife who was six months pregnant, my son Benjamin, 11, and my daughter Anna, 9. My son Sam, 6, and I survived the crash. My oldest son Michael, 14, was not with us in the car. Immediately after the impact, I was conscious and able to move enough to check for a pulse on my motionless wife. There was no pulse. I strained to look into the back seat to see my son and daughter sitting by each other, also motionless. I knew immediately in my heart that they had died instantly. I prayed for Sam, but there was no sound from him, nor could I see him as he was seated directly behind me. Amidst my cries of anguish for my wife and children that I had lost, as I waited for medical personnel, I looked through the driver's side window at the overturned SUV that had struck us.
I didn't then know who had hit us, or why they had crossed the median striking our vehicle, but I knew that if they survived, they, too, were going to be devastated by this accident. When I was 16, two young boys ran into the street between parked cars, striking the side of my vehicle. One of the boys died. Although I was not speeding or under the influence in that situation, and never felt I needed to be forgiven for that accident, it has been a significant weight I have carried throughout my life.
My wife had taught me through example the importance of love, gratitude and forgiveness. Now in my moment of extreme trial, as I grieved for my wife and children, I could only think to do that which she would have done, and I completely and without reservation forgave whoever had struck our vehicle. I don't think it is coincidence that as soon as I had made that decision in my mind, I heard my son Sam cry out from the back seat.
Since the accident I now see why my wife exemplified and taught forgiveness. I have felt strength beyond my own as I have sought to cope with this tragedy, even when I learned that the driver was allegedly drunk. That forgiveness has allowed me to understand that I am not strong enough to be angry and to heal at the same time. I am not strong enough to second-guess any decisions made that night, nor shake my hand at heaven and question why, and also move forward and focus on my surviving sons.
In my weakness I have found strength. Through the many tears shed since the accident, forgiveness has filled me with such gratitude for my dear wife and my children. I know the healing has just started and the road ahead for my family is a very long one. Yet having forgiven, I take comfort knowing that the journey is filled with gratitude and love, and that in those wonderful emotions, my wife and I and all our children will live on.