Tuesday, July 31, 2012

So Hard, Just for Me

Today I am doing something that is excruciatingly hard - donating my car. It's not just my car. Not just my first new car (25 years ago). My first new car that my Dad helped me test drive and buy.

It's my car that's Been There through a slew of awful life upheavals: breakups, moves I did not want to make, times when the only person I could bear to be around was myself ... and my car. Back when gas was still under $2 a gallon, we'd take off on weekends to hike or be alone on central coast beaches. This car has over 240,000 miles on it. Some parts have been replaced, but it's still basically itself. I've had good times with it too -- road trips with friends to Santa Cruz and Los Angeles.

The hardest thing for me to release is my last big physical link to my life before everything changed in 1991. I'm talking about the Oakland Hills Fire. Where I lost the home, neighbourhood, and things  I grew up in / with in a day, seared by temperatures well over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and blasted in a firestorm that created its own gale-force winds. My family and I ran for our lives twice that day, helped by friends and some family members whom I will remember forever with gratitude.

When I crept back behind police lines the next day, everything was leveled, smoking, and covered with a fine grey ash. The fire was still not out. But there it was, my car -- with the only change of clothes I had in the world in a bag in the trunk. One tire burned and the power lines above had melted and dripped onto it, but it was there, and it the engine turned over when I got in and twisted the key.

In the weeks that followed, I found out who my true friends were, and that process hurt. I lost several close friends and family members in a steady procession in the following 4 years. I found out what bastards our home insurance company was run by, and it sickened me. My auto insurance wanted to total the car, but relented when I said I wanted to keep it. I had it checked thoroughly after, and nothing needed replacing except the burned-out tire. It stood by me and I tried to do the same.

Over the past 2 years, however, it started needing repairs that I could no longer afford. My husband and I decided, after James' diagnosis in 2007, that it would be best to have a parent be stay at-home, and our income halved in consequence shortly after. I've been fighting to keep it with me, though. I know in my head that this has been long overdue; that sometimes I have to let things go to let new things on. I know that holding on to this car is all for me, and it's not helping our family at this point. Someone else can benefit from this car. It still hurts me today though, in a burning way.

I have had the support of friends to help me make the best decision -- it's being donated to the Make A Wish foundation for children. It will go to auction and I hold hope that someone somewhere will buy it and make it go again. It should not take too much - just more than I can give right now. So good-bye, my Mazda. Go and make a wish for someone's child come true, and keep on making a difference in someone's life. I will never forget you.

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