I was seventeen years old at the time of the accident; Harvey, the man who hit me with his car was twenty one. We saw each other for the first time a few years after the accident at the trial. We weren’t allowed to speak to each other. Not that I wanted to talk to him; I wanted to punch his face in. I wasn’t allowed to. The trial lasted a week and my lawyer could tell, by the questions the jury was asking, that they were likely going to be a hung jury. Which would mean another trial. I knew I couldn’t go through that again. My defense mechanism is amnesia and I only remember about 4 hours of that whole week. It was grueling. We decided to settle which, meant I didn’t get much compensation. More fuel to my fire of anger. When it was all over, a juror came up to me and apologized, explaining that there was one juror who thought it was my fault. I freaked out. If ever there was a time in my life when I wanted to run, it was in that moment. I could only walk quickly to the nearest exit and limp my way down the two flights of stairs. My sister followed me, easily caught up to me, grabbed me and held me tight. My tears soaked the shoulder of her shirt.
I didn’t see Harvey again for fifteen years. On the fifteenth anniversary of my accident, I called Harvey to yell at him for ignoring me for fifteen years, for ripping off my leg, for ruining my life. (He didn’t really ruin my life. I mean, I was healthy, relatively happy, and active, but it would have been much more dramatic to say, You Ruined My Life!). I wanted him to pay. His insurance company paid the settlement so, as far as I could tell, he had had no consequences to “ruining my life.” His time had come.
I don’t mean to be a tease, but the rest of this story is going to be published soon and I don’t think the publisher would appreciate it if I gave away the ending. I’ve written an essay about my experience with Harvey which is in the upcoming anthology, The Spirit of a Woman, Stories to Empower and Inspire, edited by Terry Laszlo-Gopadze. It will be in major bookstores in June, but pre-orders are being taken now. There’s a link on the right side of my blog in which to pre-order. I am honored to be sharing space in the same book as some amazing women: Angeles Arrien, Christina Baldwin, Lauren Artress, just to name a few.
I can tell you that I’ve thought a lot about forgiveness over the years. I’ve come to the conclusion that forgiveness is a choice, forgiveness is a process, and forgiveness has been a gift I’ve given myself.