This is a story about how I found my Faith. I'm a firm Believer in Jesus Christ.
I was married at the tender age of 20 years and 11 months. We had been college sweethearts and he was drafted right after the second year. Just six months after we got married, my new husband was sent to Germany, and I got to accompany him! The perfect two year honeymoon, thousands of miles away from everyone and everything familiar. It was 1968. We did a lot of travelling while we were there and we loved living in our quaint little German village.
|Photos include Nancy and her husband, Bill in front of the Heidleberg Castle, their apartment and the beautiful view in summer and winter in Germany from their kitchen window
Less than a month before we were scheduled to return to the States, something horrible happened. We had chosen to live off-base, about 15 minutes drive away, in a small town situated in a beautiful valley. My husband was working a 24 hour shift, and I kept the car so I could drive to the base and do our laundry. So that morning, on a two lane rural road which ran along the side of a mountain, I saw a two and a half ton army truck driving toward me. It began to swerve into my lane and apparently the GI driving was dozing off. I slammed on the brakes and he must have too when he finally realized we were going to hit head-on. I can still see the look on his face, eyes as big as saucers, mouth wide open. Then he turned his wheel sharply away from me, but the road had no shoulder on his side and no guardrail, just a few trees and then a sharp drop down the mountain. On my side of the road, there was very little shoulder and only rocks and trees and the mountainside. I was trapped, and he was about to send his truck rolling down the mountain. So he turned the wheel sharply back in my direction and managed to just get past me before his truck slammed into the mountain and flipped over. He just barely missed me. Remembering it now, so many years later, it is slow motion in my mind and seems to take forever, but it was probably less than ten seconds.
I had now come to a stop, and I saw the truck crash and flip over right behind me. The only thing I could see in my rearview mirror was the underneath of his truck, probably not more than 20 feet behind me, on its side and perpendicular to the road, wheels spinning and dust swirling in the air. I got out and watched him pull himself out of the open driver's side window and sit there with his legs dangling into the vehicle. He was shirtless (how odd) and dazed. He stared at me and I asked if he was alright. He didn't answer me. I asked him again, but got no answer. He slowly climbed down, turned his back to me and started running up the mountain into the trees. I asked if he was going for help, but he still didn't answer me. So I was left alone.
I then remembered that a blue VW with an American couple (a GI and his wife) had been behind me and should have seen the whole incident. I had seen this couple smiling happily as they waited at a stop sign about a mile back. They weren't there. There was no side road they could have turned on, so I was confused. Then I saw, under the truck, a bit of blue metal. The truck had crushed the car. Then I saw a hand sticking out of the wreckage. My heart was pounding! A car pulled up, the only other vehicle I saw that morning, and I told the German couple who appeared not to understand me, that I was going to get the MPs. I got into my car and raced to the MP station on base, still about 5-10 minutes away.
The MPS wanted me to fill out an accident report while they went to the scene, but my hands were shaking so badly that I couldn't write. One of the soldiers had to write down my words, then I just initialed the paper. I was shaking so badly that I could barely even talk. After telling the MPs what happened, I drove not to the laundromat, but to where my husband was working. As soon as I saw him I broke down in tears and cried nearly non-stop for days. I wondered why I had been spared and those people had died. We had no phone in our apartment, but I guess he must have called my parents from the base and told them what happened. A friend of my father's wrote me and said that if I had a Bible, I should read it. He said it had brought many people comfort during times of need. A Bible? I had never even seen one before. But then I remembered something. We had purchased a set of encyclopedias from a salesman who came to the PX, because we thought that it was a good deal. A Bible was included. Wow. What luck! (LOL!)
I devoured it. I read it start to finish in three days. And when I closed the book I was in love with Jesus. I even told my husband, "I want to be just like Jesus!" Everything was magically okay. It definitely did bring me comfort when nothing else could.
About the accident, the soldier driving the truck was drunk on strawberry wine and he had stolen the truck. They found an empty bottle in the truck and another bottle in his locker, they told me. He was courtmartialed and as the only eyewitness, I had to testify. That is another very long story which I will save for another time.
The young American couple in the Volkswagon died that morning, and she was eight months pregnant, so in my opinion there were three victims. Even though I had found my Faith, I still wrestled for years with God's decision to leave me here instead of them. One day something I heard on the radio made me realize that it is not for me to try to figure out the answer. God has a plan for each and every life He creates.
When a baby is born, a parent sees only the best for the child. We imagine the child will learn and play, go to school then college, find a job and fall in love, marry and raise a beautiful family, live to be old and die long after the parents. But God has put us here not to be cookie-cutter people. He has a purpose for each of us, and it is not always what we think or want it to be. So even though that couple died what might be considered prematurely, I believe their purpose had been fulfilled and their death has most likely accomplished its goal in the lives of everyone else they touched. Including me. Lives gone, and other lives changed forever. Mine, the families of the victims, the soldier in the truck and his family too. And who knows how many other unknown, unsuspected people were touched by the incident.
We are by nature, egotistical creatures. We can't help but see the world through subjective eyes. We see only what is in front of us, but God sees it all. Every injustice hurts us, but I believe God uses the bad moments in our lives to promote good results in others. It is really not "all about me." I'm just part of the Big Picture.
I think very often about that soldier in the truck. I still remember his face, and the faces of the people in the volkswagon. I also wonder if that soldier ever thinks about me. I know his name. I assume he remembers mine. I hope he is alright. I hope he knows he is forgiven."
I should have added that I know my philosophy and my beliefs are not shared by everyone. I hope no one will be offended by my opinions about life and death. I have come to believe as I do only after many years of thinking, listening, praying and observing. We each have to come to our own Faith in our own way.
Thank you, Nancy, for taking the time to re-live your life changing moment with us. I am so glad to know you through cubits and count you as one of my forever friends. Since we know 100% for sure where we will spend eternity, I know if I never meet you on earth, I'll meet you in Heaven!