A Letter to a Woman Whose Life I Accidentally Ended

A Guest Blog by Melissa Mannion

I am so honored to post this beautiful letter by one of our Accidental Impacts participants. I know it will touch our readers as much as it touched me. If you’d like to convey a message to Melissa about this blog, please contact accidentalimpacts@gmail.com, and we will make sure she receives the message. -Maryann

Dear Heather,

I have started this letter a hundred times “Dear Heather,” but that is as far as I ever could get. What is the best way to begin a letter to a woman whose life you accidentally ended? It’s been a year and I still have no idea what the answer is. Maybe it’s not a matter of what, but when. And maybe that’s okay.

It started out as homework from my therapist. She asked me, ”What would you say to Heather right now if you could talk to her?” Instant tears. I was overwhelmed with so much grief and sadness. It took me down a path I’m still wandering on today. What would I say to Heather if I had 5 minutes or even 5 hours to sit with her? What would I want her to know?

I’d want her to know that I know her name is Heather. I’d want her to know that I care very much about her and who she was. I’d want her to know that the day of our accident has changed me fundamentally forever. I’d want her to know that I think about her everyday and I will continue to for the rest of my life.

Heather was only 6 years older than me in January, 2021 when our paths crossed and I, a complete stranger, ended her life. It feels so unjust. Nobody deserves to die alone on a road. Nobody. But that is what happened to Heather because of our meeting on that dark, winter morning 13 months ago. I think I will always have nagging questions about what happened that day. Why didn’t I leave for work 10 minutes earlier or 5 minutes later? Why did I stop at a yellow light that I clearly could have made it through? Especially when on any other morning I likely would have gone through it without a second thought. Stopping at that light put me directly where Heather would be just a few moments later. I also wonder about what Heather was doing that morning. Had she run across that freeway on-ramp so many times in the past that she didn’t see it as dangerous, feeling a sense of invincibility as so many do? I know I’ve run across many roads many times and suffered no consequences. So many questions that I will never have the answer to, at least not on this side of eternity.

As a Christian, this has also been a struggle of faith. Some people think that it’s wrong that I question God about that day. They give me the customary answers, “God is in control” and “God has a reason.” I believe God is in control. But, also, I feel like I will never understand this, and why it had to happen this way. I will never understand what could come out of this horrible situation that would possibly be worth a world without Heather in it. But I want to ask those people who shame my doubt in Him, “What is the hardest thing you’ve ever been through?” I believe often those who can’t understand this may have not been through deep, life changing suffering. My relationship with God, much like any other relationship we experience, has been put to the hardest test. I’ve been angry and confused. I held a grudge, not just on my behalf but more so on Heather’s, that God allowed this to happen. But also I have faith. What began as a long period of me giving God the “silent treatment” has given way to a lot of ongoing painful conversations with Him. And, I truly believe that if God allowed this to happen to me and to Heather, His shoulders are broad enough to carry my ongoing questions, my doubt, my anger, and my grief. I’ve come to believe He even welcomes it.

Maybe one day I’ll get further than the greeting “Dear Heather,”. Maybe one day I will know the right way for the letter to begin. A way that doesn’t seem ridiculously formal. A way that expresses the full depth of my emotion and sorrow. But for now, “Dear Heather,” is where I’m at on this journey. The opening sentence seems a permanent barrier to the floodgate of thoughts and feelings I could and desire to share. Maybe it is something I will be able to complete–or properly begin–maybe not. Instead, maybe I will have to wait until I also leave this life to give Heather the most sincere hug, and with the most authentic tears tell her how very sorry I am that this happened to her. And then, as the Bible promises, we can then both turn to God, He will wipe away our tears, and give us both understanding. This is my faith.

Has anyone else written a letter to the victim in their accident? I’d appreciate hearing about it. Maybe it’ll help me pass the untraversable door of “Dear Heather,”.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

13 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
jiannah
jiannah
3 months ago

I haven’t been able to make a meeting,but its been almost 6 years since my accident. I was driving home from visiting family out of town and hit and killed a 9 year old girl on a bicycle. I had my 5 young children in the car with me and it was a solo trip while my husband was at home working. I have started writing a letter to her parents so many times and I just don’t know what I could ever say. Seeing anyone walking or riding a bike near a road just sends me into a spiral.… Read more »

Debbie
Debbie
4 months ago

Melissa, my accident only happened 12 weeks ago and a day. I hit, ran over, and killed a 2 1/2 year old girl. I struggle, too, with my faith. The two people who know about the accident keep telling me to give it to God. Like that is going to take all the shame and guilt I feel away. I know God is in control but I am not. My heart is broken to its very core knowing I killed a child. I struggle every day wondering if I can make it another day, another minute. Life changing, you bet.… Read more »

Melissa
Melissa
4 months ago
Reply to  Debbie

Debbie, I wish I had words for you. I am so sorry. I have been thinking about you and what you are going through. I know the anguish and it feels haunting. For months I cried every day. It’s been almost 3 years now and I still cry for Heather. Please know, and I know this sounds impossible, that, with time and support, it will get better. I didn’t believe that I could ever feel any real happiness again but I did and you will,too. Please consider coming to our Fellowship meetings if you haven’t already. They have been very… Read more »

jiannah
jiannah
3 months ago
Reply to  Debbie

Debbie I’m not sure you will see this but I hit and killed a 9 year old girl on a bicycle and also struggle. My heart aches in the same way you explained. I would love to connect. Please reach out my email is jiannah456@gmail.com

Emily
Emily
9 months ago

Melissa, thank you so much for your relatable words. I completely understand trying to write to your victim and I try to also write to the boys mother who’s life I took so suddenly. I too struggle with the beginning of a letter, poem of such. The word I struggle with is “sorry” knowing that the word has no bearing to this boys mother. Sorry can not begin to describe my feelings and guilt. I think in time you will process the ordeal and maybe more words will come to you. I salute you for your strength to even try… Read more »

Melissa
Melissa
4 months ago
Reply to  Emily

Emily, thank you so much for your words. I didn’t even realize that people could comment to my post or I would have responded much sooner. What we have gone through is horrific. There is no lighter word for it. And I desperately wish there were more resources available to people who have been through the kinds of trauma we have experienced. This group truly is one of a kind. When I felt hopeless, they gave me hope. And I believe God truly understands your anger. He can handle it. I was so furious at God for so long. He… Read more »

Carl
Carl
1 year ago

Dear Melisa I have just recently become a member of our group. I hit and killed someone and it turned out to be one of my friends. Numb, just not knowing what to do. I have sought help which turned out to be woefully Inadequate. I have found this group and I hope I can get some sort of help here. A horrible part of this whole thing is the lack of understanding from almost everyone……..it was an accident. Not your fault. You are making excuses for your mindset. I couldn’t do anything about it for awhile. I am just… Read more »

Emily
Emily
9 months ago
Reply to  Carl

Kevin, I also have a group of people that randomly send me fb messages calling me a “murderer.” “You will be punished for this!” Like I don’t punish myself already. Unlike you, the victim who’s life I took was not a friend, but a stranger. I’m sure a friend is a whole other form of self hate and guilt. I’m so sorry you are going through such an ordeal. The man who’s life I unintentionally took, was 19. To me he was a child. The only son of a single mother. He was traveling the world in the service for… Read more »

Emily
Emily
9 months ago
Reply to  Emily

I’m so sorry Carl. I accidentally wrote Kevin, but I meant to write Carl. My apologies!!!

S. L
S. L
4 months ago
Reply to  Emily

I am curious, was Kevin his name?

Melissa
Melissa
4 months ago
Reply to  Carl

Dear Carl, I’m so glad you’ve found our group. I understand what you were saying about help that was woefully inadequate. Not every therapist knows how to deal with the trauma we’ve experienced. I hope since your post you’ve been able to find better support to help you process what you’ve been through. I’m so glad you were able to put some of your feelings into words through songs, poems, and letters. That must have been very freeing. Have you ever been to our Expressive Writing group? If not, they meet on the first Sunday of every month at 12pm… Read more »

Bekah
Bekah
1 year ago

Dearest Melissa, thank you so much for sharing your experience, strength, and hope. I had never heard of writing a letter to the one we accidentally harmed… My car accident was nearly 24 years ago. At the time, I was 25 and the woman whose life I ended was 51. Not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought of her. Though I served 5 years in prison for my actions, the true sentence is life long- as the pain is never ending. Unlike yourself- my situation was completely my fault. I fell asleep at the wheel after I… Read more »

Melissa
Melissa
4 months ago
Reply to  Bekah

Dear Bekah, sometimes the weight of the things we have to carry in this life seems impossible. I’m so sorry I know you have really been through so much. I understand completely how you feel as we approach certain ages. Heather was also 51 when she died and the closer I get to that age the more I think about her age relative to mine. I hope you’ve been able to find more support. I don’t know if you’ve attended the Fellowships (the 3rd Sunday of the month) sometimes there are so many people on the meetings I can’t see… Read more »

13
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x