There was something about our trip to the car dealership today that made my heart feel like it was sinking slowly out of my body.
A friend told me that if my car ever broke down during a frigid Minnesota winter, we could die. So I was counseled to sell both my mini-van and Andrew's CRV to buy something newer, more reliable, and something that as a single mom will cause me as little hassle as possible.
Since my mom works for a car dealership in New Jersey, I asked her to keep her eyes open for what I was looking for at a particular price. Two Christmases ago, three months before Andrew was diagnosed a 2nd time with cancer, Andrew and the kids and I flew one-way to New Jersey. The plan was to drive back to Minnesota with a 2004 CRV my mom had snagged for us at the price Andrew wanted after the holidays. Andrew chose his usual color scheme - black exterior, dark interior. This color choice in his Acura Integra in college looked very cool and very cute. But I had felt uncertain about the same choice in this car, saying that a single-toned black CRV looked less to me like a sport-utility vehicle and more like he was driving himself in his own stubby hearse. Nonetheless, he chose the black on black.
Last Thursday my mom found a great deal for the type of vehicle I was looking for. Friday I looked at it at a local dealership and today, Monday, her manager in New Jersey negotiated with the manager at the local, Minnesota car dealership on my behalf. He was able to get the price for me here as I would have gotten at my mom's dealership so I wouldn't have to spend the money and hassle to fly to New Jersey with the kids and drive the vehicle back with them, especially since we had no plans to visit New Jersey this summer.
I took the kids this afternoon to the dealership to fill out the paperwork, and we drove the new car home together. The Lord provided for me as my Husband. It was the quickest, easiest car purchase I had ever experienced. And yet, it was terribly depressing to me. This was the first time I had ever purchased a car all by myself.
I have no control over day after day passing, acumulating since I last heard Andrew's voice calling me "Precious," or saw his wide almond eyes looking at me rich with love. It's like rowing a kayak and you drop your paddle into the water. You grab for it but it drops just beyond your reach. You grasp further and further, but it continues to sink lower and lower until finally the murky waters swallow it, and it is gone.
In the same way, as I struggle to put one foot in front of the next, the steps accumulating, the kids and I are inevitably moving on. I have no control over us moving on, paddling my arms across the water, one stroke after the next, lest we drown if I don't keep swimming. I keep looking longingly back, but forward we go. I keep reaching for Andrew, but he is already away. The black, short hearse no longer applies, the foreshadowing already fullfilled.
The CRV must go, along with the champagne Chrysler Town and Country mini-van that was like a second home to the four of us when we lived in Washington, so far from family and home. We drove the 1998 champagne Chrysler up and down, back and forth from Washington the 12 hours to San Francisco, visiting my brothers; and back and forth the two hours north to Vancouver, B.C. to get Andrew's beloved authentic food and dim sum, nearly as good as that of Hong Kong; and finally we drove the two thousand miles east to Minnesota. The hand-me-down mini-van that his parents had bought when he was 17 with its luxurious leather interior and heated seats that I thought fell from heaven when the van arrived, heating me so sore with nine months of carrying a truck on my front - I mean Gracie - during my pregnancy. The champagne Chrysler Town and Country that was too good for us but so good for us.
The life-saver champagne Chrysler we often drove the forty minutes just to get bubble tea in Lynnwood, WA as our 3 month-old and 18 month-old fell asleep in their car seats during their bedtime and Andrew and I could have a date in the last row behind the two babies in their captain's seats. We sipped the sweet purple, taro milk tea or smooth, almond milk tea with their tapioca bubbles through the giant straws, giggling like we were on another date back in our dating days, sitting on the tan leather row as excitedly as if we were sitting on one of the couches in the tea house without children. Our van was where the kids were safely strapped in and quiet, looking out the window at Washington's evergreen trees or enjoying Mozart on CD or sleeping, giving Andrew and I hours of time to talk and laugh as we drove even the 45 minutes each way to visit Seattle. It was our portable babysitter, who's only cost was the gas.
Goodbye champagne Chrysler. Goodbye stubby hearse.
I'll see you soon enough, my love.