Slow to Remember


Our lives had been spared. But then I began to develop a dangerous kind of amnesia.

I had never been in Colorado before. It laid out the black ice for me. People say that in near-death situations, your life flashes before your eyes. I don’t believe it after my experience. Maria and I were in a blue Tracker going 65 miles per hour down the highway to Golden. We were on our way to visit her family and attend a wedding rehearsal. Maria was back in her hometown, back where she was a gymnast, a basketball player, and a choir girl. She was driving.

We hit black ice. I heard her gasp, and a scream got caught somewhere in her throat. We skidded across three lanes. I didn’t see my life flashing. In fact, I don’t think I saw anything except the large cement divider getting closer. I didn’t think to do any last-minute repenting. I didn’t think any great memorable thoughts. I think “this is going to really hurt” was the only thing going through my mind.

We hit the cement median, demolishing the front end of the car. It felt like a roller coaster to my midsection and a shot to the head. Fortunately, we were both wearing our seat belts.

I looked back over at Maria. “Are you all right?”

Her eyes were wide, and she was breathing heavily. “Yeah. My leg hurts a little though, and my chest.” I undid my seat belt and checked her leg. I couldn’t see anything wrong from where I was. I wanted to check the other side. I got out of the car and circled to her door. Everything looked all right.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Maria repeated, half to herself and half to me.

“Don’t worry about it.” I hugged her. “I’m sure you set up the ice to show me how exciting Colorado could be.” Sarcastic humor. I guess that was my way of dealing with the trauma.

“I’m sorry.”

A policeman was already up the road from an earlier accident. He threw his car in reverse and backed down the cement space to the side of the highway. By now a very slow lane of traffic started passing between me and him.

He tried to say something, but I couldn’t hear him over the sound of traffic. I started to walk up the street a little where I thought I could cross.

SMACK! The sound came from behind me. I whirled around. Two cars were spinning out of control toward me. I jumped against the cement median. The cars passed by. I felt one brush the back of my shirt. I was terrified.

That was the closest I had ever come to death. I stood in the same place, not thinking, not moving, just scared. It took me a few seconds before I realized that the car I had left Maria in was now spun around. One of the out-of-control cars must have hit it. I didn’t see Maria in the driver’s seat where I had left her.

I ran down the road and yanked the door open. Nothing. “Maria!” I was screaming. I couldn’t find her. If there was anything scaring me more than almost dying, it was losing my friend. My eyes and mind raced everywhere. She wasn’t in the other seat. Not in the back. Not on the ground in front of me. Nowhere.

I heard a muffled cry. It sounded like it was coming from beneath the car. I checked. Nothing. I ran around the car. Maria was lying on the road with her head up against the median. One of the cars had run into the Tracker and knocked Maria through the side window and onto the road.

The paramedics strapped Maria to a stretcher, and we both went in the ambulance. I called her parents when we got to the emergency room. They hurried to the hospital. After Maria had a few X rays and spent a few hours in the emergency room, the doctors said that despite the whiplash and the large bruise from the seat belt, she was fine. I escaped with a sore neck and a scar on my leg.

It’s a great thing to be alive. I thanked the Lord for the chance to live, the chance to try a little more, a chance to go to college, a chance to get married, a chance at my dreams, a chance at playing the guitar, a chance to hang out with my brothers, a chance to write a story, a chance for everything.

The next week was crazy. It told me about myself. I had a test on Monday. I had a teaching presentation Tuesday, another test Wednesday, and a 10-page paper due Thursday. I quickly got lost in the hectic pace of everyday life. There was so much to worry about, I forgot about Colorado. I forgot how happy I was to be alive.

That Saturday I picked up my scriptures and started reading. “And after the angel had departed, Laman and Lemuel again began to murmur, saying: How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands? Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even he can slay fifty; then why not us?” (1 Ne. 3:31).

Laman and Lemuel had always seemed so stupid to me. They saw an angel and started complaining immediately afterward. They forgot so quickly.

It then occurred to me that I was just as quick to forget. An amazing feeling of gratitude and unworthiness came over me. I hadn’t seen an angel, but I had learned how much I loved life and the opportunity the Lord had given me to live it. Like Laman and Lemuel, soon after I had forgotten.

So much of the gospel is remembering, remembering what the Lord has already taught. I have so much to learn, yet I know what I need. I have a Heavenly Father who loves and protects me. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior. He gave His life for me so I can gain happiness and learn to be like Him. I know that through His Atonement, I can repent of my sins and of my forgetfulness and can appreciate and learn more. I can become more like my Heavenly Father. I know I have to continue to repent, using the Atonement in my life. I just have to remember it for the rest of my life.

[illustration] Illustrated by Paul Mann

[illustration] Nephi Rebuking His Rebellious Brothers by Arnold Friberg