Tomorrow I say goodbye to a friend--a non-human friend--a car. I am sad about saying goodbye. I've never been attached to a material object before, I work hard at managing difficult transitions. But when I heard the service rep at the car dealership say to me that my car was "totaled" after having been caught in one of the flash floods that hit the NE last week, I was bereft.
Let me be clear--this car was eleven years old with 187,000 miles. But that's the clue, it was eleven years old--the number of years it had carried me around since my husband died. It was my first major purchase without the guidance of my husband--although, my son and daughter played a role in helping me choose the car (which only added to its cherished status). It was time to say goodbye; probably five years ago would have been the right time to say goodbye, but I couldn't part with it.
Just about the time I bought the car, my son, Rob, recommended a book to me written by Neil Peart, drummer/lyricist for the band RUSH. The book, Ghost Rider:Travels on the Healing Road was a travel memoir that he wrote about a 55,000 mile journey he took on his motorcycle after the deaths( in the same year) of his 19 year old daughter and his wife. He was lost in grief.
The year the book was published, 2002, was the year my husband died. I read the book and while I did not hop on a motorcycle, I did hop into my new car and traveled to five cities in Canada--alone. I write about the experience in Above and Beyond Wellfleet, and how healing the journey was for me. I decided to take this trip to escape the first holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas)without Larry. That meant I was traveling through Canada through wicked snowstorms and on icy roads. My car never flinched at the challenge--that's when I think I developed my first friendship with a "thing" rather than a person.
Over the past eleven years, my friend has taken me down many highways. It has seen me sing at the top of my lungs and heard me gush to myself about beautiful scenery. It made me feel safe and independent--two crucial aspects of learning to accept my new role as "widow."
Tomorrow, I will go to the dealership and remove my personal belongings and probably pat the hood, and mostly likely I will cry. Somehow it doesn't seem right that it will end up as scrap. It will always be in my museum of memories.
The intervening eleven years when we first hit the road together on my journey have been good years--hard in some ways, but as I say goodbye tomorrow I will also say a quiet thanks to my traveling companion who shared many a strengthening adventure with me.