Matt,   The day finally came.   I could come up with no more excuses.   My car was 18 years old and starting to have major problems.   Ray had been after me for over a year to trade her in and get something newer with all the bells and whistles my sweet girl didn’t have.  I kept putting it off.  Not even wanting to glance at anything he would find that he thought I might warm up to.  

First I used my cancer.  Hell, If I could get something positive out of this complicated disease, I used it to stop the purchase of a new car which meant trading in a piece of my heart.  I kept telling him after the next scan I’d start to think about it, then the next scan, then the next.  Finally after my February scan my oncologist said lets spread them out I’m not worried about letting you go longer between scans.   Talk about a double edged sword.  Yes I was praising God for the great news but deep down I was starting to mourn what I knew was coming.

It didn’t take long to find her replacement.  A brand new Toyota Rav 4 was coming into the dealership within a few weeks.  She was mine……

I felt like I was betraying the 4 Runner and all the memories she held for me over the years.  The two of us driving the dogs to the beach.  Laughter and wild barking from our back seat passengers as they bolted out the door running toward the surf.  The smell of salty, wet dogs and us covered with sand after trying to corral them into the back seat for the return home.  

The smell of crabs we caught after spending the day at the bay.  You kept throwing live ones on my seat howling as I would scream and run around the car.  So many deep conversations we shared about your addiction as I held you captive with those childproof locks.  Many trips with you cussing as I drove you to another treatment facility tears running down my face as I continued to tell you how much I loved you and needed you to live.

Walking through the beach house together picking out what would come home and what would be sold when we knew you had lost everything we both loved.  Loading those memories of sunny days, long walks and so much love into the back of my 4 Runner.  Watching tears roll down your face as we pulled away from our heaven on earth for the last time.

Memories of driving to church together I can close my eyes and see you sitting in the passenger seat.  I could smell your Phoenix scent.  I could picture you holding Scarlett in your lap after we rescued her together.  Our love of animals was just another quality that bonded us together.

My car was another connection to you.   On bad days as the grief was hitting I swore I could smell Phoenix flowing through the air.  I could see you sitting beside me looking my way with that smile on your face.   

The drive to the dealership was brutal.  My tears were uncontrollable.  I wanted to shout stop I can’t do this.  I felt like I was losing another piece of a connection to you that I could mentally not afford to lose.   Ray kept saying I was the only person he knew that was crying because she was getting a new car.  Ray has no clue as to what that old girl meant to me.  To the memories she held within those 4 doors.  To the connection to you that’s comforted me these last eight years.

In between my tears I managed to snap a shot of her being driven away.  My memorial to you now a snapshot that will forever be imbedded in my heart…..