It was just a car.

(Photo by Alexandru Acea on Unsplash )

It was just a car. 4 wheels, bent wipers, and some fading paint. A hulk of metal and rubber and old shiny leather.

It was just a car. My first road trip to Montana and Wyoming. That time we drove through the icy peaks of Colorado. Sun, sand, snow, sleet. We’ve buckled in and hit the gas and spent many a magical moment lost in the corners of the country.

It was just a car—my newborn son in his hospital blanket. My infant daughter in her bulky car seat. 4 years apart ,we drove them home, cocooned in the roomy interior.

It was just a car. First days of school, afternoon trips to the zoo. Parks, museums, hikes, beaches. Packed with strollers and toys, pudgy kids waving their starfish hands about.It was just a car—nondescript, common, and always a little grubby. But when I put foot to the gas pedal, it purred and glided — a fancy car heart in an old SUV body.

It was just a car. When my oft anxious fingers tapped on the steering wheel, the car seemed to steady and hold the course. It always knew when I needed a break, a breather — I’ve cried so many tears, nestled in its warm seats.

It was just a car. It visited the mechanic when it looked sickly. A dead battery here, a torn brake pad there. A few hours at the shop, and it came home, gleaming. Weary, solid, a wee bit sheepish?

It was just a car. 75 K miles, then 100 and 125 before we knew it. The odometer crept up to 135,000, and for the first time in years, we felt the car grow tired.

Should we sell it? Donate it? Keep it roosting in the side yard while it rusted away? My heart felt heavy — it was a car, after all, just rubber and metal.

14 years with us, and I cleaned it one final time last week. As I ran my fingers over old scratches and smudges, I saw the memories of a beautiful life — the back seat food tray, where we’d eaten so many french fries. The trunk still smelling faintly of baby wipes and lotion. Sticky spots of spilled juice and blurry fingerprints on windows — I even saw scuff marks of tiny feet from years ago.

Later that day, it drove away — 4 wheels, bent wipers, and some fading paint. As it turned the corner (still a hulk of rubber and metal), I wiped away hot tears and whispered to myself.

 “It was just a car. It was just a car. It was just a car.”

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