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Natalie Marti

October 11, 2012
I sometimes drive by the spot on the highway where the accident happened with my family.  

Even after nine years, this awful stretch of road always seems to reopen the scars made by losing my husband Shawn and our daughter Sage. Thankfully my memory of the event is still clouded, perhaps an effect of the coma or traumatic brain injury I incurred, but I like to think it was a blessing from God, protecting me from mentally reliving the horrific experience over and over again. Many questions have flooded my mind since the experience. How would my life be different if we had chosen to drive a different way home that night the accident happened? Would our dreams of having a big family be fulfilled? What would our children look and be like? Would we be as happy and as in love as we were then? Why couldn't I have passed with them? Why was I chosen to survive to live this torment and would I ever find happiness again?

Recovery was a long difficult process and was a war on me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I had many injuries that required surgeries and therapy to recover from. The brain damage in the initial stages of healing, created memory loss resulting in constant confusion, and after recovery still many mental barriers affect my short term memory. 

The darkness of the hole created in my life made me desire death to ease the burden of existing without them. Sometimes the memories of our brief time together and the dashed hopes of the future were too difficult to bear. Even being surrounded by my family and others who cared for me, I felt that no one was there who understood what I was feeling. Beyond that I couldn't understand my purpose for being alive.

People have asked me many times how I overcame such awful trials. Just as climbing a mountain does not happen in one step, I have decided that it was not one independent act that made recovery possible. It it was many little decisions, many little actions, and many little blessings that helped me accomplish it. But the healing process always begins and ends with understanding one's power to control their choices.

When I remember the account of Christ being crucified by his own people, and his declaration on the cross before his death, “Father Forgive them for they know not what they do," I am humbled. It gives me a new perspective of my condition and the way I view the man responsible for Shawn's and Sage's deaths. I knew I had to follow the Savior’s example and choose to forgive him. I cannot express the joy in surrendering the weight of the negative emotions that could have enveloped my life and offering him what he wanted most—my forgiveness.

Sometimes I see the scars left by the accident and I am reminded of not only the journey I have been forced to walk, but the great lessons I have learned and the deeper relationship to God that I never would have had without this experience.  I have chosen to see the good in it because there is good in it.  These defining moments in our lives are meant to teach us not only about our own abilities to overcome, but to teach us to call on God, to remember Christ's infinite sacrifice in our behalf, and to remember His immense love available to each of us.