It was an appropriate day for a funeral: cloudy, foggy, misty and chilly.
I glanced at my wife as I drove through the city and declared, “This is the year—2013.”
We were on our way to my father’s funeral.
“Okay, I’ll take the bait.” Melissa was smiling, but had a matter-of-fact tone in her voice. “What do you mean by that?” She always got concerned when I ‘turned serious’ on her. Normally I was the happy-go-lucky-jokester of the family, but my father’s passing rattled me.
“Things will not continue as they have been.” As I answered Melissa, our 10-month-old daughter Sarah dropped her teething rattle, and Sarah struggled to reach over for it, but she was strapped in too tight in her car seat. The car seat was securely fastened in the back seat of our new minivan. Sarah started to cry in frustration.
“Things? What do you mean? World events? or…? What won’t continue as it has been?”
“Things like people—like my father—or situations like rifts in families…even pets will not linger as they have been for months or even years. This is the year of change. Small things are changing and big things are changing.”
The next few moments I will never forget—it’s still so vivid in my memory—like an HD movie in 3D with surround sound on Blue ray disk—all in high definition slow-motion.
Our car was first in line at a busy intersection; we were stopped, waiting for the traffic signal to turn green. Melissa unbuckled her seatbelt, turned, stretched and reached back towards Sarah’s teething rattle. Finally, after three cars went by, turning left in the intersection front of us, the light switched from red to green. I pressed down on the accelerator and proceeded into the intersection.
A dump truck from a local construction site ran the red light and broadsided our minivan on the passenger side.
All-at-once glass and plastic shards mingled with deploying air bags. Melissa was tossed like a rag doll into the driver’s side window and she bounced back into the space on the floor between the two front seats. The minivan was crushed and spun around in a 270 degree arc with a horrifying screech. Rattled-beyond-belief, I managed to open the driver’s side door, and stood up in the street. People were screaming, pointing… I was bleeding from multiple cuts on my face. I started walking toward the sound of sirens. Rescue vehicles and police cars sped. An officer quickly cordoned off the intersection. I limped toward one of the police cars, reaching toward the officer, totally in shock.
The dump truck driver approached me from the left. “Sir, are you okay? Can I help you?”
“Help… help us.”
“I am so, so sorry.”
I fainted there in the street as the traffic light turned blood-red.
I learned later the truck driver caught me as I passed out.
I was rushed to the hospital, treated and admitted into a comfortable room; and for the next sixteen days I was in a coma. Every evening the dump truck driver visited me to see how I was doing. On the evening of the sixteenth day, I started to move, then wake up. As I blinked to focus on my surroundings, the dump truck driver signaled for the attending nurse. She rushed into the room and immediately checked my pulse.
“Who… who are you?”
“I’m your attending nurse.”
“Nurse? I’m in the hospital? What’s going on? Where’s Melissa? and Sarah?”
Just then, my doctor walked in.
“Rob, it’s good to see you awake. I have some news for you.”
“What? What happened?”
“Rob, I need to inform you that Melissa died in the crash. Sarah survived; she’s staying with your mother. I’m truly sorry.”
“I’m sorry, too.” The dump truck driver added.
“Who are you?”
“I was the driver of the truck.”
“Go—get out of here.”
“Okay, okay. I’m leaving.”
I have to admit: I hated that guy for a long, long time. For months I hated him. He tried to contact me several times by showing up at my house, writing me letters—he even tried poking me on Facebook. Finally, after my refusal to talk to him, he backed off.
But that dump truck driver never stopped praying for me.
Jesus healed me through that man’s prayers. Finally—two years to the day of the accident—I invited him to my house and embraced him.
“I forgive you.”
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