The True Value of Life

Sudie Bond Noland - Portland, Oregon
As heard on The Bob Edwards Show, December 9, 2011
Sudie Bond Noland

For years, Sudie Bond Noland has had chronic pain from injuries she suffered in an auto accident. Despite some anger towards the drunk driver who caused the crash, Noland eventually found closure by offering the driver her compassion and forgiveness.

Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in the power of forgiveness and compassion. This act is so hard for many, including myself, but it is important to show an understanding heart when someone is faced with discord. It gives a chance, for some, to repent for their previous mistakes. I have come to learn the true nature of forgiveness over the years, beginning with a personal experience of mine that was life changing. It happened when I was thirteen.

I was riding with my friend’s family in their car down a two-lane highway, when we were hit head-on by a drunk driver going sixty-five miles per hour. Eddy Jo was his name, and he was so intoxicated that one more beer would have killed him. Thankfully, everyone survived, although I came away from the accident with chronic back and neck pain, migraine headaches, and part of my kidney missing. It has nearly been a decade, and I am still in pain every day. Pain forever is a lot to swallow when you’re young.

In court, the judge sentenced Eddy to twenty-five years in prison to make an example of the situation. I didn’t understand the full extent of this when I was thirteen. I was upset about how the ignorance and actions of this person had changed my life forever.

As time went by, I began to think of Eddy in jail, away from his family, and how he must feel. I received letters from him, stating his remorse for his actions, and yet I couldn’t bring myself to write back. I was so overwhelmed with so many different emotions that I didn’t know what to say.

This is something I have been thinking about for a long time—something that I haven’t looked at with a magnifying glass until this essay, actually.

I have now forgiven Eddy in my heart for his actions. I know that when he got into his car that night, he was too inebriated to even realize he was driving. He had a problem that got out of hand and out of his control.

I know Eddy didn’t hit us as a malicious act in any way. It was a mistake, an awful mistake, but a mistake nonetheless. I have the courage now to write to him. He will finally know how I feel when I send him this essay.

Forgiveness and compassion can be amazing feelings when you let them into your heart. People deserve a second chance to do the right thing, especially when one may have been caught up in circumstance. I don’t think Eddy deserved twenty-five years in prison for his actions.

I am forever changed by him, but in some ways it has shown me the true value of life. Even though I struggle every day, I think it has made me a stronger person, a more loving and compassionate person.

For that, Eddy, I thank you.

Sudie Bond Noland's experience in this essay has since propelled her on a personal healing journey and awakened her own calling as a healer. Raised in Sarasota, Florida, she currently lives in Portland, Oregon. Ms. Noland is about to start her own practice as a Reiki Master and begin her schooling for a master's degree in Chinese Medicine.