I’ve never been very good at letting go of things. I’m one of those people that, once I find something I like, I want to hang onto it for as long as I can. I wouldn’t say that I don’t adapt well to change, because for the most part I can be pretty laid back, but as far as certain things go, it’s hard. I wish I could say I’m not a materialistic person, but to a certain extent I am, and I tend to attach a lot of emotion to certain items, and when that happens, it becomes absolutely devastating if something happens to them. It’s shallow I know, but it is a personality trait that I have to come to terms with.

I had grandiose plans for my Jeep. I remember that I had my heart set on a Wrangler, but as soon as we pulled up to the lot, this beautiful blue Cherokee just struck a chord in my heart that wouldn’t quiet, and even after test driving many other cars, I was still pulled back to that Cherokee. I bought it new as a junior in high school, and at the time, I was told it had to last me through college. I bought it in October, just in time for the weather to begin to change. I remember the first time I turned the heater on and the new-heater smell filled the car, and that was a memory that stayed with me forever. Every time winter would come around, I always had happy memories when I turned the heater on for the first time in months. The memories of getting my new car, even if they weren’t visual memories, always came out into the open. It became, in it’s own way, an extension of myself, a visual piece of my soul in tangible for for the world to see. I made it through college, and by that point I had become so attached that I decided I would drive it until it no longer ran, restore it, and drive it some more. It lasted me through vet school, as much an icon of myself as anything could be. In a way, it helped defined who I was. My Jeep carried me to South Dakota when my husband and I were kept apart by school and military, and it wasn’t until November 2010 — over 9 years since I bought it — that it rolled over 100,000 miles. I had kept it in good shape and had only sustained two accidents, both of which could be repaired. I had definitely looked at other cars, but never with the intention of replacing mine. As far as I had planned, my Jeep would be with me for a long time.

It’s hard not to drive without being mildly aware of the potential for a crash, especially after watching the ways other people drive. I have always tried to be an alert driver, not necessarily so defensive as to be dangerous, just aggressive enough to take opportunities when I had them, never reckless enough to put myself in danger (at least not intentionally). I have always been conscious of other drivers and tried to anticipate their next move so I could plan mine accordingly. Still, it’s impossible to prepare for everything, and even the best drivers are susceptible. Tuesday night, I was on my way to pick up dinner for my husband and I, and my focus was on the road ahead of me, preparing for my turn-in. I caught the movement out of the corner of my eye and turned in time to see a car pulling out into the first lane going the opposite direction. I remember thinking that maybe she was turning left, because surely she wouldn’t go straight with me right there. About that time, she crossed into the second lane and began rapidly accelerating. I realized at that point she was not going to turn and I was going to likely be hit. I honked my horn, and a little over a second later she struck my door. I don’t know if she didn’t hear me or if she assumed that someone else was being honked at, but she never braked. She hit me at a full acceleration, enough force to nearly roll my car. I couldn’t open my drivers side door and had to crawl out the passenger side just to get out to talk to the police. It took a full 30 minutes for the shock to begin to manifest as physical pain. But the worst part was looking at my car and realizing that the end had come much sooner than I could have ever prepared for.

Getting the official word that my car was being declared a total loss brought home the truth I had known since the crash. Still, I couldn’t help crying as I looked at my Jeep in the lot, knowing it was the last time I would ever see it. Even writing this now I can’t help but tear up. The physical pain, the insurance headaches, the fact that I somehow have to now raise money for a new car just as we were finally starting to get ahead of our current debt, all of those pale in comparison to the simple fact that I lost a huge part of myself in losing my car. I realize that some people reading this may feel like I am being too shallow, selfish, materialistic, etc., but at this point I don’t care. I realize that in the big picture, I’m incredibly lucky that I didn’t get hurt worse, that no one else was injured, that I wasn’t a split second later to be the one to hit her and possibly kill her passenger, I’m fully aware of all of these things. Still, it doesn’t change the fact that my first car and piece of myself was taken away because someone was in too much of a hurry to get a movie that she couldn’t be bothered to look both ways before pulling out into a 4-lane street.

So now becomes the process of letting go, trying to move forward. The loss has happened, I cannot change that fact. I know that even if I put all the money in the world to getting my car fixed, it would never be the same, would never completely drive right, would never be able to restore back to the good condition it was in before. That chapter of my life has ended, that door shut, and I have no choice but to move forward through the door that lies in front of me right now. Nothing lasts forever, and as much as I wasn’t prepared for this, didn’t want this day to come so quickly, a small part of me was rational enough to know that at some point in my life I would be moving on to another car, another chapter, another story. The pain will be with me for awhile I’m sure, but I have to keep my eyes forward. I can’t live in this place forever, mourning something I can never get back, pining for something that I can never again have. This is part of being human, and painful as it is, this is simply another beauty of life, that we do have many chapters, many stories, many dimensions to our existence. I know that I will get through this and come out on the other side, ready to face the world and everything ahead of me. There may still be a part of me that aches occasionally, a part of my soul that is forever tied to that little Jeep Cherokee, but the beauty of living is that no matter how attached I may have been, that car wasn’t all of who I am. I am more than my possessions, more than my titles, more than anything that can be used to label me. And now, as I go searching for my next car, I will do so with the intention of keeping my heart and mind open, awake to life, aware of what is around me, and hopefully, open enough to recognize when my next chapter calls to me, waiting for me to turn the page.

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