I am trading in my car. The one we bought new in July 2011. We made quite a few good memories in this car. Very good. We drove this car to the airport where we flew to Las Vegas and spent an awesome week visiting Keith and Rebecca in June. Another airport trip took us to the NCAA Elite Eight volleyball tournament in St. Louis. We drove around New England watching Springfield College volleyball matches. One of the best memories associated with this car was driving to meet Mike after work on Fridays – a little habit we fell into once the volleyball season was over. It was a great way to cap off the work week. We always tried to sit in the most private corner – just us. But when you went out with Mike in our hometown you always bumped into someone he knew. And I was so proud to meet his people and to be his date. And then we would drive home. We spent a lot of time in that car. I remember the contentment I felt as we got to know one another again during our empty nest year – just the two of us.
And there are some sad memories. Very sad. Like when we took Keith and Rebecca back to the airport after a visit. Somehow a stop for ice cream on the way made the trip a bit better. And when we brought Molly back to school after a weekend home. That was always bittersweet. And then there was our first trip to Dana Farber in Boston – this car took us to the house of dear friends who opened their doors to us the night before Mike’s first appointment at DFCI. And that was the first of many trips to Boston. For diagnostic testing. For surgery. To the oncologist. And multiple visits to the local hospital. Gradually, the trunk that once carried our golf clubs carried a walker. And then a wheelchair. It met us at the hospital during Mike’s last days. And then drove me home again. We loaded the trunk with pictures of Mike and all of our memories and drove to the wake. and the next day we drove to the church and celebrated Mike’s life.
And now we drive little Caleb around. Our first grandchild. And in the trunk we currently carry a stroller and other necessary baby things. But Mike is not with us.
Now my needs have changed. I will be getting rid of Mike’s beloved Tahoe. It was the one thing he could not part with. So I will. A new vehicle will be useful to me in so many ways. I am happy that my car payments will remain the same. I am happy that I will have room to transport Keith, Rebecca, Caleb, and Molly and still have plenty of room for a stroller or for the contents of a dorm room at the end of the academic year. And maybe my golf clubs – if I am ever patient enough again to work on that silly game. I am very happy that I will have room for the Big Red Stinky Dog – who has become my faithful companion. He looks a bit like Clifford, the big red dog in the back seat of my current car. He will be much happier with this new arrangement.
But even though I am confident in this change, I find myself quite melancholy. I know it is a good move. It is for all of the right reasons. Perhaps I am sad because it is a concrete reminder that I am taking this step alone. I know Mike will not spend time with me in this new car. That new memories will be made without him. I will do my best to trade in the car and all the sad memories with it. But we all know that our minds and emotions don’t work that way. Good grief is a process that takes time. It is work. And it hurts. But there is hope. One thing I learned as I was grieving both my parents was this:
Jeremiah 31:13 “I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.”
I know this to be true. And so I will hang onto this promise from our loving God. And will move on to do the next thing. And I will take Caleb for a ride. And will look forward to stopping for ice cream when he gets bigger. It will make this trip a little bit better. Of that I am sure.