I came home from my mom’s funeral with my 5-week-old baby and my 3-year-old daughter, in such a daze that it took a few moments to register that the shiny-new Honda Pilot Bill (my husband) had steered us toward in the airport parking lot was for me. I guess we had talked about getting a new car (I don’t remember) but in the chaos of a new baby and rushing down to Charlotte, NC (from CT) so William could meet his grandmother before she succumbed to the cancer she had so valiantly fought, it was not exactly the main topic on my exhausted, devastated brain. This was January, 2004. Today, that baby is just shy of 13 years old, and the Honda Pilot that Bill had so thoughtfully surprised me with that day, is no longer in our garage.
I am not a car person. I have always said, I don’t care what car I drive as long as it is reliable (taking the car to the shop is one of my least favorite tasks) and not too expensive, because I don’t want my day to be ruined because someone in the parking lot dinged it. And I guess because of my love of mindful living, I try to practice non-attachment, trying to see objects as things we use and enjoy, but do not cling to or depend on too much. So, when my Pilot malfunctioned this week and I finally realized, it’s time to get a new car, I was surprised by how sad I felt. When I mentioned it to Bill he said it felt like we were putting down a pet. It made me think of Rob Bell’s brilliant podcast on seasons. How change in our life is like the seasons, and when one season ends (e.g. we leave a job, a marriage, our kid goes to college), a new season will slowly step in, but first there is grief. Yesterday, before heading to the dealership, I went for a run and as I noticed the changing colors in the trees and the leaves already scattering lawns and roads, I thought about all of the adventures my family and I have had with this solid, reliable, convenient car, and I actually cried as I ran.
From that first trip home from the airport, the Pilot logged just over 229,000 miles, with no issues other than regular maintenance and wear-and-tear. A baby in an infant seat, a toddler in a car seat, all the way to today, where my oldest is months away from her learner’s permit, and the baby is now taller than me when he stands up straight. The Pilot has driven my kids to their nursery schools, preschools, one private school, public schools, another private school. It has driven my family and our bikes to dozens of running races and triathlons as far north as New Hampshire and as far south as Washington DC. It has taken us to Myrtle Beach to visit my dad and my stepmom, with surfboards tied to the roof. To Canada, with skis and snowboards on the roof. The last 7 summers, it has ferried up to 7 kids every day for 6 weeks every summer, for the kids’ triathlon camp I coach. It has been my rolling university as I have listened to hundreds of hours of motivational, spiritual, and informational audiobooks and podcasts. I was in the Pilot - parked, thankfully - when I received the news that my beloved cousin had died by suicide. The Pilot has reeked of boys and their hockey equipment, and Penny’s (our dog) farts. It has kept us safe during white-knuckled drives during blizzards.
Most people recognized my car, since what started off as a couple of stickers on the back turned into a ridiculous display that caused a few of my friends to refer to it as the “hippie van.” A few times, I came out of the local library or a restaurant only to find someone had added a magnet to the collection (thank you! That was cool!). Bill has a German car and I guess it demands minimalist accessorizing, so he expressed his bumper sticker love on my Pilot and sometimes I would come out to my car and find a new sticker on it. It became a family joke – let’s see if Mami notices the new sticker?
Yesterday we drove my Pilot to a dealership to take a look at a replacement. Thankfully, this car was exactly what we wanted, so after the laborious process of paperwork and credit checks and all that other stuff takes hours (I do look forward to when Amazon Prime delivers cars!), we put my plates on our new Pilot and piled into it. I was still sad, but the kids were so excited that they could now listen to the music on their iGods through the car speakers, that the sadness was replaced with relief. We have a new home on wheels and I pray that like its predecessor it keeps us safe, helps us accumulate many more exciting adventures, and is sturdy during life’s inevitable challenges. As for bumper stickers - this car’s policy is still TBD.
A new season begins.
Motivational coach, athlete, mom, entrepreneur. I love helping people mindfully reboot their health & joy.