On Wednesday night when I visited my husband, I noticed a plaque I had been walking past.
It says, “In memory of Sargent Peter Toller “.
I think of Pete and Julie often. I had forgotten that he was a prison guard.
Many years ago, the spring and summer I was pregnant with my son, I cared for their newborn daughter.
Olivia was a beautiful brand new baby. I got to rock her and play with her and dream about my new baby.
Pete and Julie were very nice people. Usually, Pete would be running to work and he’d quickly give me the low down on the baby.
I remember how exasperated he’d be when he’d go up and grab his things and come down and I’d already have Olivia asleep.
“HOW do you do that!?” he’d ask. I’d tell him I was an expert. (lol)
When Julie got home I’d quickly tell her about Olivia’s afternoon and run out the door. She was anxious to get her evening going.
I cared for Olivia on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I remember one Thursday. Julie got home and was very chatty. We talked and talked. She told me to pull up a chair while she fed the baby.
She asked me about my pregnancy. She said she’d miss me when the baby was born.
She and Pete were going away that weekend and Grandma was going to watch the baby.
When I left, I distinctly remember thinking how talkative she was that night. Usually 10 minutes or so of quick conversation was all we ever had.
I got home from church on Sunday night to several messages. Just people not Pete and Julie asking me to call their number.
When I called back, Julie’s Mom said, “Honey I know you’re pregnant, are you sitting down?”
I remember feeling very strange.
Julie’s Mom said “There’s been an accident. Peter and Julie were both killed.”
They were on their motorcycle with helmets on a back country road. An elderly man turned onto the road immediately in front of them.
There was absolutely no stopping. Pete was 1st and he died instantly. Julie lived for an hour or so. I don’t know how awake she was. I remember wondering if she cried for her baby or if she was in too much pain.
I am getting chills writing this now. I cried and cried. It was all so shocking. Their little girl was 11 months old. Her Mom and Dad both gone.
I couldn’t believe it. I have to tell you still that I can’t believe it sometimes now.
I called my Mom bawling. I remember the horror I felt. I sobbed “Mom! I never told them about the Lord.”
That is a heartbreaking thing to deal with. I still have regrets when I think of Pete and Julie. Or when I think of how long I sat with her that Thursday night, 3 days before she went out into eternity.
They were good people. Very very special. I don’t know if they knew the Lord. I searched my soul. I do not think that I ignored any prompting from the Lord to witness to them.
I just know that I sat with her for 2 hours that night and never talked about God once.
I watched Olivia during the funeral. I cried for her. Her Mom and Dad loved her so much and were so proud of her and they didn’t even get to celebrate her first birthday. She won’t ever really remember them.
The very worst part of the day was that everytime she heard a car go by, she’d stop and look toward the door where her Mom always came in when she came home.
Peter had been married before and had a grown son. He and his wife adopted Olivia. She has the same last name and will know them as her parents.
I called once to check on her. She was doing fine. She’s a big girl now. I’ve been thinking of her again. I wonder how she is. I hope she knows how much her Mommy and Daddy loved her.
I have been thinking of Pete and Julie a lot this week. I will continue to do so as I walk past the plaque on each visit to see my husband.
Please don’t waste opportunities to share Christ with those around you. Maybe I would have felt funny bringing it up. I don’t know.
I think though that in light of how quickly she met God, I shouldn’t have let that stop me.