Take Me for a Ride

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Some mornings I wish I didn’t feel compelled to write. That would mean I didn’t have any grief on my mind. The reality is that I do have this life change on my mind all the time. Sometimes with an outside voice looking inward, and other times as just pure me. I can’t tell if I am hyper-aware, or if this is normal! I have often told that I am more “in touch” with my being and surroundings that the average bear, so maybe I am hyper-aware and this is normal for me.

Regardless, here I am.

“Screw you guys. I’m going home.” The South Park Cartman antenna topper heads to a new home.

We sent Dave’s van off to do duty for Dana and her family. This week, I (along with Richard, thanks!) took it out to get a new battery, which had died during the cold weather as I wasn’t starting it or taking it out often enough for upkeep, plus it needed new tires. Dave didn’t bother getting tires for himself but since it was going to be used more in the city, time to do so.  This van has only had 25,000 miles on it since we bought it ten years ago! I cleaned out all of Dave’s papers, glasses, books, cassette tapes, coins, and miscellaneous car stuff which are now relinquished to a box that needs to be “gone through.” Off came the faded South Park Eric Cartman antenna ornament for Leah.

I rarely drove Dave’s car and when I did I never changed the mirrors or seat settings. I would just move around and try to see from his car position. This time I did, because I knew it wouldn’t matter. He won’t be getting back in this car. I took the van through the car wash and also gave it a vacuum. Over the years, Leah and I often took his car in for a wash and clean up for Father’s Day. Sometimes I would do that for his birthday. And it wasn’t unusual for him to find free car wash tickets in his stocking at Christmas. Dave is not the wash-the-vehicle-in-the-driveway each week kind of guy! The van really did clean up nicely, and I do like the thought that it is ready for football trips and sweaty teenage boys and grocery runs. New memories.

The car is such a symbol of independence early in life and loss of independence in later years. Who doesn’t remember a learning-to-drive story? (Dawn shared a good one last night!) What about those road trips? Where has the car taken any one of us in life? My mom and her husband are currently moving to a new city because they should no longer drive themselves around the winding roads of their wooded, coastal town (Bravo for them for making that decision!). Dave said pensively to me the other day, “I guess I’ve driven a car for the last time.” Leah wanted to go for one more ride on “deer patrol” as we used to do when she was younger, a throwback to the “Sunday Drive.”

It’s taken me a few weeks to be able to actually prepare for the van’s departure. What if something happens to my car? Or, what if Dave needs transport in the van because it is easier to get in and out of?  What if he gets better, enough to drive? I know the answers; these are questions only meant to be hopeful thoughts. Really, the tough one has been “How will I face the empty space in the garage?” It is the symbol of “gone.” One car. Two spaces. Not coming back.

The last time. I have tried not to think like this, but apparently Dave does. He shared that he is going through last time moments: his last Valentine’s Day, his last St. Patrick’s day. Never mind that St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t have much meaning or tradition to either of us. It is the last… He wonders if he has had his last anniversary with me or his last birthday. Will we get to September together? He didn’t know he had given his last lecture that week in January.

There is counting going on. And as we go through the months and weeks and days, we count silently, like it or not. Each day, each change, each moment of letting something go is like another leaf drifting off the tree branch in Fall. Now we are heading into the Winter of Dave’s life.

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