It's never easy losing someone you love.
Last month, I had to say good-bye to my beloved minivan.
It —she— had been with me for ten years and she’d saved my life at least once. A bad driver made a silly judgment call that led to the ultimate demise of my favorite car. She wasn’t my first minivan, but she was certainly my favorite. I got her when my children were thirteen, nine,and seven.
People made fun of my blue, Toyota minivan, calling her a dorky, mom car. I didn’t care because she was safe and practical and she took care of my family.
There were so many family memories in that car, including road trips to Northern Wisconsin and college visits for two of my children. My minivan was present at thousands of sporting events, from soccer to dance and many other activities in between. She carried children to religious school and after school activities. She ultimately let each of my three children learn how to drive inside of her safe walls.
Oh, but how that van made it safe for my children to share secrets and fears with me!
The smooth ride, quiet inside, and lack of direct eye contact made for a safe space for my children to open up both with me and with the many friends that accompanied us over the years. I learned about boyfriends, girlfriends, accomplishments, and failures all while traversing the same 10-mile radius time again and again over the years.
All of these events left me wiping away tears in my beautiful van.
Many tears were shed in that van. Most of them mine as I’d drop off a child for an athletic tryout or a big exam. Watching my growing children run off from that van left me equal parts proud and sad.
I remember driving away from my oldest son as he waved and walked away from me and his father to start college. I remember kissing my pre-teen daughter good bye as she went off to eight weeks of summer camp. And I remember dropping my baby off at his first day of high school. All of these events left me wiping away tears in my beautiful van.
I had planned on keeping her for a few more years to drive my kids to college and put all five of us, plus the dog in the same place for family driving trips.
I had just had her tuned up and ready to go when the accident happened. I was sure she’d be okay, but the mechanic’s call told me otherwise.
Through tears I had to say good-bye to my dear friend. How many friends do you trust with your babies day after day? How many friends keep you safe in outrageous weather extremes? How many friends protect you with miserably bad drivers surrounding you?
The minivan years were some of the very best years of my life.
Maybe it’s best that I said good-bye to her right after my youngest got his driver’s license. That minivan was feeling awfully big for just the dog and me, but I swear I could hear the sounds of my children laughing and chattering away in the back seat .
I just wasn’t quite ready to say good-bye to all of that.
I still look for my old friend as I walk out to the garage, just as I still look for my babies in the faces of my growing children.
A new era begins and I’m sure it holds wonderful adventures for my family, my new car, and me. My youngest is thrilled that he won’t have to drive the old minivan.
I’m still a bit sad to not have my old friend with me through all of life’s transitions.
I like my new car, but no car will ever be as special as the one who drove my children into adulthood and me through all the stages of motherhood.
This article was originally published at Smart Women, Inspired Lives. Reprinted with permission from the author.