n July 14, 2003, my brother and his family were traveling from Fort Worth to San Antonio for a week’s vacation. Just 20 minutes from their destination, a truck turned in front of the family’s minivan, which skidded off the road, spun around and hit a tree. The crash forced my sister-in-law, Amy, to the floorboard and my two-year-old niece, Gretchen, was ejected from her car seat and thrown to the console between her parents. The impact caused a gash in the side of the minivan where my nephew, Matthew, age 7, had been riding in his booster seat. The crash claimed his life. Thankfully, the rest of the family survived.
our family didn’t know at the time was that the driver of
the truck had made a decision that changed our lives forever—he
chose to drink and drive.
The driver of the truck, who was a husband, father and grandfather, was sent to jail following the accident and still incarcerated when he wrote a letter to my brother and his wife. He expressed sincere remorse and said he wished he had died in Matthew’s place. He said he always goes to sleep and wakes up thinking about the life that he took.
My family had many “firsts” in the
year following Matthew’s death. His parents continue to deal
with rollercoaster emotions each day. However, because of their
strong faith in a loving God, they knew that they could not continue
a life of hatred and bitterness toward the man who caused the wreck.
In March of 2004, the man was sentenced to nine
years in prison. At the time of his sentencing, Greg and Amy looked
into the man’s tear-stained face and said, “I forgive
you.” Prior to the day of the sentencing, Greg explained
to me why he needed to forgive the man and he repeated those words
“I refuse to spend my life hating you. I believe that an inability to forgive poisons our soul. I believe that every minute spent hating you would be another minute my life would be robbed of peace and happiness. I commit to you today to pray for you throughout your time in prison. I sincerely pray that God will bless the remaining years of your life, as well as those of your family.”
This is the best example of forgiveness I have
seen and will probably ever see. It’s a lesson for life.
CHRISTUS St. Elizabeth Hospital