I wasn’t the most popular person in the marching band. I had some friends, of course, but I didn’t hang with the really “cool” people. They were the ones who sat in the back of the bus on trips and held their own raucous celebrations.
As I settled onto a green vinyl seat on the “band bus,” the cool breeze of an Alabama autumn slipped in a window and brushed my cheek. We were headed for the stadium, and like usual, the drum section members were in the back of the bus with their rowdy friends. Lulled by the rhythm of the ride, I shut my eyes and reflected on my social status and how isolated I felt being one of the few Mormons at school.
A teeth-jarring jolt startled me. The bus was off the road, careening wildly along the gravel shoulder. I gripped the seat ahead to steady myself. The bus was out of control, and each tilt and sway threatened to fling us into a crushing roll.
We lurched toward the ditch that lay beyond my window, balancing on two tires. The afternoon sun flared into brilliant white, filling my mind with a microsecond vision of my family. I clenched my fists and braced myself for the impact.
The bus tipped, voices screamed, and I sobbed, “Heavenly Father, please!” I was so afraid to die. Immediately my fear was replaced by comforting waves of peace.
There was a thud as the bus righted itself, and gravel sprayed as the bus jolted to a halt. We were on the slope of a ditch, only a few feet short of smashing into the framework of a bridge. I wiped my tears, astonished I was still alive. I was aware of people shouting and sobbing while scrambling for the exit. When I was able to climb out, I collapsed with relief on a grassy knoll, gentle peace still warming my heart.
At that moment I realized I was not only okay physically, but spiritually as well. I thought of a scripture we had discussed in seminary: “And if they die they shall die unto me, and if they live they shall live unto me. … And it shall come to pass that those that die in me shall not taste of death, for it shall be sweet unto them” (D&C 42:44, 46).
I marveled at the calm that had replaced my terror. I really thought I was going to die, yet in the last moment I wasn’t afraid. Popularity pales in the face of death, as do many other things. Although I may not be perfect, it’s nice to be on the right track.