March 13, 2014

Farewell, Old Friend

I'm still sick to my stomach this morning.  I think I am having an emotional hangover from last night.  Last night I said goodbye to a dear friend, one that has been by my side through thick and thin.  I parted from the most loyal friend who has never let me down and has been part of my life through the most critical last six years.  How do you let go?

I gave my friend one long last look, then snapped a final picture and walked away - too emotional to turn back.

Pathetic, some may think.  Who else has to hold back tears at a CAR DEALERSHIP?! But I found myself choked up.  We purchased our big mega van last spring and so we became  a family of two drivers with three cars.  Totally unnecessary and a small part of me was really wanting my driveway back for the kids to shoot hoops without a car in the way. We also are needing to fund the 5-digit out-of-pocket price tag for Bridger's specialized physical therapy this summer - so it made sense to part with it.  But as I sat there waiting at the dealership to make the exchange I found myself hurting inside at the thought of parting with it. That feeling stems from what the suburban represents to us.  When Bridger was first diagnosed and we were released from our 9+ week hospital stay, we had a brand new minivan. We realized with this new diagnosis we were going to need to make some changes - a lot of changes, to adapt our new life to his needs.  We didn't know a fraction of what those future changes would be, but we knew that we needed a car that could fit a wheelchair.  So we took our still-had-the-new-car-smell minivan and traded it in for this gently used suburban.  We were over the moon.  The perfect car showed up at a local dealership exactly at the perfect time and we were excited for our first change for Bridger.  This car, even down to the color, had been our dream car for several years and we finally had a reason (however unanticipated that reason was) to buy it.  

The wheelchair could be thrown in the back so easily along with all of our other gear for our large family.  It could even fit his wheelchair and his pushchair at the same time so I didn't have to think ahead of what mode of wheels I made need for where we were going with him.  That car has taken our family through at least 15 states.  It has heard a lot of laughter (from all of us), a lot of screaming (from Bridger) and its share of tears (from me.) It has been up to the cabin more times than I can count.  It has sat it hospital parking garages for a collective year of its life.  It has been everywhere from the narrow, clogged streets of Manhattan to the sandy roads of the Outer Banks.  It has never let us down and at 130,000 miles, only ever needed one minor repair.  It has taken hits of spilled soda, ground up french fries and dozens and dozens of vomits like a champ.  I will never forget a particular series of vomit slams it received as we were driving across Ohio.  The only place we could find that could help was a truck stop with a power washing hose with icy cold water straight from Lake Michigan.  So a nearly naked Bridger was power washed as was his side of the suburban.  Alan was equally soaked when he finished the job so he went inside the truck stop convenience store to see what he could find to use to dry himself off (we used everything we had to  dry Bridger and the car) and he came out wearing an Ohio t-shirt.  (If you ever see Alan in that Ohio t-shirt, know that there are a million memories behind it!)

The suburban represents the first change of many hundred that we have made to embrace our new life.  It was one of our "tools" - the things that help us help Bridger, and to say goodbye to our first tool was bittersweet.  I have a whole arsenal of tools now, but it doesn't take away the sting from saying goodbye to that first one.  Silly, it may sound, but as I walked away, I think it was saying, "You are welcome."