88. Peace After the Storm

88. Peace After the Storm

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Forgiveness

Peace After the Storm

The motto should not be forgive one another; rather, understand one another.

~Emma Goldman

It was a big decision for a ninth-grade dropout and mother of seven to make. The death of our three-year-old Laura had created a desire in me to go to medical school. The summer I turned thirty-two, my family and I had embarked upon that journey.

Now the last semester’s term papers were upon me. There were articles I couldn’t get from our local area, so I needed to make a trip to Oklahoma City. Two of my classmates and I decided to go and get the trip behind us.

I felt strangely uneasy the morning we left, but chalked it up to fatigue. We got what we needed and headed home. All of a sudden I had this sick sensation in the pit of my stomach that something was wrong. We stopped so I could call. I knew something was not right, but all they would tell me was, “Come on home.”

Three hours later we pulled into the driveway. It seemed like the entire property was frozen. The silence of death was on everyone’s face as I entered the front room. Grandpa? Grandma? I quickly scanned the room for the children. Randy? Where was Randy? No, it couldn’t be Randy… he was over at Jay’s house. They were going to band practice. I turned to Doug and asked through uncontrollable tears, “Is it Randy?”

“Yes.”

My heart felt a squeeze so tight I thought it would crush me. My tears were unstoppable.

Doug had taken the car apart. He had been busy working on it. Leeanna needed lunch bags for the kids’ lunch the next day. Randy volunteered to ride his bike to the store. Jay went with him. The boys were seconds away from turning into the store parking lot when a drunk driver topped the hill at 75 mph in a 25 mph zone, hitting Randy and throwing him several feet in the air. Jay was cut by the glass. Randy was dead.

Randy was fifteen and the light of our lives. He always added that extra sparkle of laughter and excitement to our everyday lives. The funeral was amazing. People came from everywhere—many we didn’t know, but they knew Randy. I felt an unbelievable pride in my son when a little crippled lady came to the door bringing a dish of food. She shared how much it had meant to her to have Randy cut her yard every week and take out her trash. She told us when she tried to pay him he’d smile and say, “Oh, I don’t take money for this kind of thing.” Randy left us thousands of memories to laugh at and cherish.

There’s no way to adequately explain the grief, the guilt, the questions, the “what ifs” that torment your mind and heart in those early days. I finally got far enough along that God helped me understand that the other family was suffering as much as we were, plus they carried the burden of having caused the death. The situation was even more complicated by the fact that the drunk driver was the father of one of Randy’s best friends.

We made the decision to visit the driver. The tragedy they were suffering was intense. Changes were taking place in the family for the betterment of all. Perhaps, with the passing of time, the changing of habits and the help of friends, the Lord would be able to put their lives back together.

The beginning miracle was the spirit of forgiveness that God placed in my heart. A spirit of unexplained peace engulfed me. Randy was safe in the arms of God; I knew his battle was over. It would take many miracles to keep this other family from being totally destroyed. From that moment, and with the passing of time, I realized it is the experiences of life, rather than age, that brings about maturity.

Several years passed before our paths were to cross again. Miracles had indeed happened. A once drunk driver was now free from alcohol and busily involved in serving God. A marriage once threatened to become a divorce statistic was firmly grounded on the Lord. The children had grown up with the love of both parents. For me, this brought a sense of personal peace to my soul. A thankfulness for God’s mercy welled up within my heart. All had not been lost.

~Patricia Williams

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