How Could They Forgive Me?
September 2005

“How Could They Forgive Me?” Ensign, Sept. 2005, 68–69

How Could They Forgive Me?

One evening several years ago as I was driving home from work after having picked up my two children, I momentarily lost consciousness. When I came to, I found myself looking up over the dashboard just in time to see a pickup truck right in front of me. The collision caused me to lose consciousness again. When I awoke, my vehicle was on its side and my children were screaming.

Several people rushed to help me and my children get out because our car’s engine was on fire. I was extremely sore all over, but my children and I escaped serious injury. My greatest concern at that moment was for the occupants of the vehicle I had hit.

Through the hours that followed and into the next day, my attempts to find out about the people in the other vehicle didn’t succeed. Finally, a hospital social worker came to my room and informed me that the driver of the other vehicle had been killed. I was devastated.

In the days following the accident I took time off work to recover physically, mentally, and emotionally. I also learned what had happened. I had crossed the center line into oncoming traffic and had hit a vehicle head-on. I also learned that the wife of the man who had lost his life had been a passenger in the vehicle and had been seriously injured. They had a large family, and although most of the children were grown and on their own, some were still at home. It was so disturbing for me to think that I had caused another human being to lose his life, a wife to lose her husband, children to lose their father, and grandchildren to lose their grandfather.

My physical wounds were healing, but the mental and emotional wounds were not. I kept asking myself, “Why did this happen?” I knew it had been an accident, but that did not make me feel any better. I was unable to sleep or cope with life. I couldn’t bear the thought of what the other driver’s family must be feeling.

I tried to get on with life and return to normal, but nothing seemed to work. All I could do was pray. I remember pleading for Heavenly Father to take this pain and suffering from me because I knew I could not continue on like this and fulfill my most precious callings as a wife and mother.

Then one day my doorbell rang. I opened the door to find a man standing on my porch. He had a very solemn and uneasy look on his face. Without saying a word, he handed me a box and an envelope. Accepting the gifts, I stood there, waiting for him to say something. After a moment I asked the man if I knew him. He shook his head and introduced himself. I instantly felt a lump in my throat as I recognized his last name. He was the eldest son of the man who had died in the accident.

I invited him in, and we talked for a long time. Our families had several common acquaintances, and he had heard through them what a difficult time I was having. He said his wife had asked him how he would feel if he were in my shoes, and that brought him to my doorstep. He told me his family knew it was an accident, and they knew their father and husband had received a call home from our Heavenly Father. He let me know his mother was going to be fine. We then hugged and cried for a time.

The envelope he gave me contained a card expressing that their prayers and thoughts were with my family and me. The box contained a small shelf plaque that reads:

“Dear God,

“We work and pray, but at the end of the day, no matter how hard we try, there are still many reasons to cry. So please send us angels to comfort us in our fears and help us turn the small successes into cheers. Amen.”

My prayers had been answered. I was able to sleep that night for the first time in the two weeks since the accident.

Since then I have seen this man and his wife from time to time, and they always ask how we are doing and if there is anything we need. I remain humbled by their thoughtfulness and unselfishness.

One general conference Sunday, between the morning and afternoon sessions, my doorbell rang again. It was not only this man, but also his mother and younger brother. They did not stay long, but I cherish their visit. Once again they came bearing a gift—a beautiful painting of Christ with this scripture inscribed on it: “I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matt. 11:29). The mother and I hugged and cried.

This family has taught me a kind of forgiveness and love that I never knew. I testify that through others our Heavenly Father and our Savior can convey Their love to us. I know Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers, and I now know that sometimes we have to let the atoning sacrifice of the Savior take away our pain when we have done all we can do. I am thankful that this family was able to feel and follow the promptings of the Spirit to answer my prayers.

  • Angelique Petrick is a member of the White Pine Ward, Tooele Utah East Stake.

Illustrated by Robert A. McKay