I did something I probably shouldn’t have today.
It was impulsive.
I certainly didn’t consult the Lord before I acted. People rarely do when they make impulsive decisions . . . But maybe, maybe, I just wanted what I wanted and didn’t want to be told no—even if it was in my best interest.
I’ve seen a lot of doors closed in my lifetime and sometimes I just want to bust in, take what I want and live with the consequences. It’s not as if I deceive myself into believing I won’t suffer any consequences. Oh no, my eyes are wide open.
What’s one more set of consequences in this life of mine? At least the consequences I face will be of my own making instead of suffering consequences for the choices of others.
My impulsive actions weren’t sinful, but just because something is lawful doesn’t mean you should do it.
I thought I made peace with this last year, but today it just rose up and I executed a short internal debate then bit the bullet and placed the call.
Right from the get go things didn’t go smoothly. I encountered a determined gatekeeper. I should have just hung up but by this point, I was all in.
And there was no getting past this gatekeeper without explaining the full nature of my call.
And so I spilled it. . .
In frustration I rambled off something that went like this: ‘I want to talk to Roger Wilson because he was involved in a car accident on December 26, 2013, in which two of my daughters were killed. I’m not calling to place blame, I just want him to answer a question or two.”
And there it was . . .
And the gatekeeper?
His wife—who was also in the truck that day.
So I asked her my question.
‘At what point on the road that day did you realize the red truck had moved into your lane? It’s a hill. Did you see the truck before or after you topped the hill?’
I’m not really sure I got the answer I wanted because I’m still not sure I know exactly where they were.
What I got instead was a recitation of the driver of the red truck’s actions. I gather they had been aware, even concerned, about the other drivers actions before he pulled in front of their vehicle, into the passing or fast lane if you will, moving at a rate of speed significantly below the speed limit and slowing further has he applied the brakes to gain access to the turn lane he was so hellbent on getting to.
She told me she hated what happened.
Hated what happened to us.
Had prayed for us.
After I reiterated the question, I was told that there was no possible way they could have stopped, could have avoided the collision. That the officer who took their statement had said as much. She said the other driver was traveling about 35 miles and hour and people were passing him and that there was no way to stop when you are traveling at “65 miles an hour or whatever” and someone pulls in front of you going 35 miles per hour and braking.
She went on to say that the accident turned their lives upside down and more so for us.
I thanked her for speaking with me. Even thanked her for her prayers. Told her I appreciated it and said a hasty and awkward goodbye.
During the course of the call, a few things became apparent to me. Things that bothered me. Things which precipitated that awkward ending to the call.
She never acknowledged the fact that her husband was speeding at the time of the accident. It’s right there in the accident report and verified by the vehicle’s computer chip. In effect, she refused to accept any responsibility whatsoever, on her husband’s behalf, for the collision.
I’m not sure why.
There is no possibility of any further legal action against her husband, so it can’t be excused as an action to protect her husband or their assets.
Is she living in denial?
Maybe she’s actively trying to convince herself that her husband is in no way responsible for the deaths of my daughters. Maybe that allows her to sleep at night.
And because there was no admission of wrong doing, and because it became apparent that her goal was to advocate for her husband’s innocence, there was no offer of condolences. I never heard the words, “I’m sorry for your loss” let alone “I’m sorry for the role my husband played in the accident.”
Instead what I heard loud and clear was, ‘We were not at fault.’ That’s pretty much what I got out of her comments, but the unspoken message was, ‘We were victims too.’
All I really wanted was to know when the driver of the red truck pulled into the fast lane. The best I could hope for was an apology for the law he broke that inadvertently put him in the path of the reckless driver who cut into his lane. An acknowledgment of his wrongdoing. Remorse over the consequences his individual choice made in our lives. An expression of sympathy. I guess it’s just too much to ask to have people take responsibility for their actions in this day and age.
One of the things that bothers me most about the collision is that because both drivers were at fault to varying degrees, they can each point a finger at the other and excuse their own behavior. The driver most at fault (95% at least) points his finger at the other driver and says, ‘I would not have hit that van, those girls would not have died, if the other driver wasn’t speeding which caused him to rear-end my truck’. And the driver least at fault says, ‘This accident wouldn’t have happened if the other guy wasn’t on the road because he had no legal right to be since he didn’t have a drivers license. It wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t pulled out in front of my truck.’ And neither one has to look themselves in the mirror and admit that their actions contributed to the deaths of my daughters.
And that’s precisely why I probably shouldn’t have made that call.
I’m a floor mat.
I wanted so badly to say, ‘Your husband is not blameless. He was breaking the law too. He made fewer mistakes, but he is not innocent of the deaths of my daughters.’
But what would be the point?
Aside from saying it out loud, confronting her with the truth, I would have just initiated a defensive and defiant response further abdicating her husband’s responsibility and guilt.
I wonder if she realizes that because her husband was speeding there was no way to prosecute the other driver for the crime he was clearly guilty of: vehicular manslaughter.
I wonder if she realizes the rate of speed at which their vehicle was traveling determined the force and speed at which the red truck was pushed into oncoming traffic. Less speed equals less force.
I wonder if she realizes that because he was speeding justice was denied my daughters.
I wonder if she realizes that even the maximum sentence for the misdemeanor offense of careless driving was cut in half by the judge who excused the paltry $500 fine and six month suspended jail sentence because “the other driver was speeding”?
That in and of itself is all kinds of wrong as the defendant was being prosecuted for reckless driving. He should have been sentenced based upon his actions alone.
Her husband is responsible for much more than exceeding the speed limit. His actions resulted in the perversion of justice. His actions served to excuse everyone at fault.
Had he not been speeding the impact of the two trucks would have taken place seconds later and our van would have passed by that point of intersection unscathed. But no, this was the result of one unlicensed and reckless driver meeting up with one speeding driver . . .
My daughters died but in spite of the fact that two drivers broke multiple laws that day, no one, not one person is held responsible? Say it isn’t so! But it is . . . because it’s the other guys fault.
And Wow, just wow! Am I suppose to feel badly because the speeding driver’s life was upended? Am I suppose to consider him an innocent victim? Did his wife expect me to pardon his behavior?
Before I made that call I could have convinced myself that at least this one driver accepted responsibility for his actions, but now, I will pay the piper. I will have to live with the knowledge that both drivers consider themselves guilt free.
Is anyone else nauseated by that fact?
We sing about the day the music died, but who really cares? The day integrity died is far more disturbing. The drivers, the prosecutor and the judge each demonstrated an appalling lack of integrity.
And because I so desperately wanted every single piece of the accident puzzle, I will have to cycle through the process of forgiveness one more time. I will have to make peace with more anger. I will have swallow another serving of resignation. I will have to surrender my right to see justice meted out yet again. And that’s all on me. I didn’t consult the Lord. I didn’t want Him to tell me to let it lie, that He’d take care of it, that knowing would only hurt me more. I just wanted answers in spite of the fact that it would change nothing. Nothing. So I’ll suck it up and shoulder the consequences my insatiable need to know demanded. I’ll suck it up because those pictured below are worth it.
But this I know—of this I am confident—denial and excuses will not protect the guilty from the wrath of God. Grace is their only escape if their hearts aren’t already too hardened to receive it. Justice will be served; in God’s time, but it will be served.
And what I heard today can only be described as a deceptive half-truth. A sin of omission. It’s just one more sin to add to the cup of iniquity. One more sin adding to the cup of the wrath of God. One sin filling those cups drawing us ever closer to Christ’s return when God will proclaim the cup of iniquity full and the cup of the wrath of God will be poured out upon the wicked. It will be judgement day.
I’m in no way saying that the two drivers, the wife of this driver, the prosecutor or the judge are not saved. Only God knows the heart of man, but woe to the man who knows to do good and does it not, for that is sin. (James 4:17 paraphrased)