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Nicole, 25, Modesto, California

My name is Nicole. I am 25 years old. On February 24, 2002, I was driving my car home from the bar with five friends. We had all been drinking. While driving to our friend's house, somehow I lost control of my car and slammed into a tree, killing my three backseat passengers.

I remember waking up in the hospital, completely unaware of what had happened. Throughout the days that followed, I was informed of the accident and who hadn't made it through the crash. This included two friends and a best friend. I was shocked, ashamed and angry with myself. One of the most difficult things I had to deal with was the forgiveness from others. I had to forgive myself for making such a horrible decision. I had to ask God to forgive me for my decision and for my behavior.

I also wanted forgiveness from the families and friends of the others who were involved in the crash, but I knew this would be the hardest of all.

As time progressed, I was sentenced to six years in a correctional facility for women. In my heart, I wished I had been forgiven by the parents and families of the friends that were killed. However, I knew I hadn't. I prayed they would find it in their hearts to forgive me.

During those years of incarceration, my best friend's mother came to visit me. She had decided to forgive me. This was one of the most incredible feelings, just knowing that she found a place in her heart that urged forgiveness. She sat and talked with me. We cried together and spoke of Kyle, her son who had been killed in my car.

This woman made a difficult decision to forgive me, even when she may not have wanted to. Her forgiveness holds me accountable for a lot of my actions in my life today. I still hope that the other families will somehow find a way to forgiveness. I see how Pam has been able to move forward in a positive way, a healthy way, and I want the other families to experience the same healing. Pam's forgiveness has helped me to move forward in my life as well. She helps me see that I can do good things, and that the choice I made that night does not make me a bad person.

It hurts to know that there are still people who are angry with me. I wish I could tell them my apologies all over again, and that they would hear me. Forgiveness is such an important part of healing. I have found that by forgiving others, it sometimes helps the person who forgives more than the person who is forgiven. Forgiveness between two people can start an amazing relationship, a bond that can make a huge impact on this world.


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