Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sharing a valentine that is not my own

I don’t know Chris Williams. He lives in my state. We belong to the same church but not the same congregation so I have never met him. I’ve seen his face in the news several times this week and heard his tragic story, but beyond that, I cannot begin to say I know him or appreciate how deeply he is suffering. I only know that his story is one of those heart-wrenching ones that both draws me in and terrifies me. It makes me want to grab my children and never let go.

Chris Williams was driving with his family last Friday when their car was hit by a Jeep Cherokee driven by a 17-year old boy who police say may have been driving under the influence of alcohol. Chris Williams’ pregnant wife and two of his four children died in the accident. In his first statement to the press – within hours of the crash – Williams said he forgave the driver. He forgave this boy who destroyed his family.

In yesterday’s Salt Lake Tribune, another article on the story started this way:

“To those who wonder how Chris Williams was so quick to forgive the teenager who crashed into his car Friday, killing his wife and two children, consider this: when Williams was 16, he accidentally struck and killed a 4-year old boy.”

The story goes on to tell how in 1981, Chris Williams had been driving to work when two boys darted out in front of his car. One boy survived the accident, but his 4-year old brother died three days later at the hospital. Following this accident, “People showered Williams with forgiveness and kindness.”

25 years later, Williams was willing to return the gesture when the tables were turned. He said that on Friday night, still sitting in the crushed car, he knew his wife and children were gone. “I had a decision to make because I knew it was going to be a lot of healing that I needed in my life. . . I decided to forgive then and there.”

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, Chris Williams has asked the public to “extend a single act of kindness, a token of mercy or an expression of forgiveness.” Then he requested that you write down your act and send him an email so he can read them to his two surviving sons. He said: “I can think of no greater valentine that you can present to someone or that my sons and I can present to my sweetheart that that.”

I’d like to contribute to his valentine. I’m not sure yet what my act will be. But I’m going to start by posting this message. Then I’m going to turn off my computer for the rest of the day and play with my kids.

Chris Williams’ email address is williamsvalentine (at) myavant.com.

9 comments:

Goslyn said...

Oh my. My heart breaks for this man and his family. I too, will do an act of kindness in his name today.

Thanks for posting this.

Radioactive Jam said...

Wow.

Okay.

Wow.

An Ordinary Mom said...

That gave me goosebumps as I read it.

Thanks for passing along the message, I think I will do an act of kindness today in his name, too. If he can forgive someone so readily in this type of situation, it makes me rethink my own petty grudges that I am holding on to.

Happy Valentine's Day ... my kids are waiting for some attention, too!

Kimberly said...

Thank you so much for sharing that, Julie. Turning off the computer and focusing on my kids sounds more appropriate of a gesture than anything else I can think of. I'm going to follow suit.

tami and todd said...

I caught this story on this story on the news and was real touched too. When I first heard him saying he unconditionally forgave this kid I have to admit my first my first reaction was "yeah right" but learning more of his story convinced me that this man knows forgiveness better than I ever could. I also think it's amazing that this story of great forgiveness came just before the mall shooting at Trolley Square... like preparation for the forgiveness that was going to be needed even more.

TARA said...

Hey Jules,

Thanks for sharing Chris' challenge. I had read about it in Desert News and had even decided what to do, but somehow I hadn't followed through. This post was the kick in the pants I needed to act rather than intend to act.

Action taken. Valentine email sent.

See you soon!

TARA

eve said...

Thanks Julie, I'm with rj...wow
and as tragic as it is, to see the positive that will come out of it.
I can't imagine.

The Lazy Organizer said...

It's amazing that life can go on for people after something like that happens. You know his wife and children would want to see nothing less that his forgiveness. I want to be that kind of person some day.

kfk said...

A great big heart he has. And what a tragic story.