At the time of this writing, less than 48 hours ago, Chef Jason totaled our one and only car.
Thankfully, everyone is fine. Jason was in the car alone when he hit a work bed type trailer on the front passenger side. Bug and I were at home asleep. It was about 8:30 in the morning, and he was coming home from work and grocery shopping. No one was near the trailer, on the trailer, etc. And the trailer was not damaged, so that's good, too.
The accident was literally just that: an accident. The sun hit at the right spot and Jason possibly made a bad decision in the moment - to keep driving when he could not truly see. But it was an accident.
Despite this fact, when you lose your one and only car, when this car was loved so well, so deeply, despite the fact it's a car and not an actual living breathing being, it's devastating.
This car, our Flamer, has been with me and with Jason through it all. This month, August, I had owned the car for one decade. As I am only 28 years old, this is more than a third of my life. I've never held one job that long, I've not been in a relationship that long. I've hardly been a full-fledged adult that long!
Flamer took me to and from college - first, Delta College where I obtained my associate's degree, friendships I hold to this day and confidence in what I wanted to do with my life (which was not to be in journalism in any way). Then, Flamer took me to and from Eastern Michigan University where I obtained my bachelor's degree and gained confidence in my ability to somewhat succeed at being an adult. Flamer took me to meet Jason for our first date. He was the one who transported us during most of our dating years, our engaged years and even to the church on our wedding day. He went on our honeymoon with us, on vacations with us. Flamer was there the day we brought Preston home from the shelter. He was there when I went on the job interview for the job I still hold now - six years and counting. He's taken me to Ann Arbor more times than I could possibly count. He took Jason to so many interviews for so many jobs and transported him to work thousands of times. Flamer was there throughout our entire pregnancy - to our first doctor's appointment and to the hospital to have Bug. He brought Bug home from the hospital.
Flamer was 14 years old. We knew his age, and we knew next year had to be the year we bought a new vehicle. We often spoke of that time as what would be Flamer's retirement: tootling us around town but not having to go to Ann Arbor or on long trips. He could just enjoy his senior years with us without having to work so hard.
Flamer's been reliable and dependable. He was finicky, though, and had quite the personality - he despised the cold. I don't know how many times I had to boil water in the teakettle to unfreeze the driver side door in the morning in the winter. Here I would be all dressed up in work clothes, traipsing in knee-deep snow with my teakettle of water to unfreeze Flamer. I guess he just liked warm toasty water in the morning!
I know this all probably sounds crazy, and quite frankly, we just don't care. We're both so raw from this, so heartbroken.
And really, it all just comes back to: the best-laid plans. Last year was the year we would be debt free. Then, Bug was planted in my belly. So we saved up as much money as we could to pay all the medical bills, buy cloth diapers, clothes, and whatever else is necessary for a little. And we were able to do all of that. All the bills are paid and done, she has everything she could need (not want, mind you, but need).
Then, this year. This year was the year we were going to be debt free. Then... this happened.
Where in the world do we go from here? Right now, I'm not really sure. We're looking for a new car. My parents graciously offered to borrow us money (without us even asking as we were likely going to go for a bank loan). But the burden of it all. The craziness of it all. And knowing that Flamer's life ended the way it did. Jason and I have sobbed over the loss - the loss of Flamer, the loss of the dream of being debt free this year, the loss of having Flamer and another vehicle until Flamer truly was done.
I know whatever Satan intends for evil, God turns to good. I know that. I trust in that. My soul lives in that.
But I can't see the absolute bigger picture. I might never, this side of Heaven. I just have to keep calm and trust God. Trust in the promise He made - that he will not forsake us.
In the immediate aftermath of our loss, we're just trying to love each other well. I'm working on not just blaming Jason. That would be really easy to do - just get mad. But I know it was an accident. I know he feels this loss just as much as, if not more, than me. He loved that car just as much as I did, if not more. We love in a big way. And when we lose, we hurt... in an equally big way. And it's not that we loved a thing. Flamer was never a thing. He was absolutely part of our family. He was there for all the moments that mattered... and all the little every day moments that maybe didn't seem like they mattered then, but they do. It matters to have a car to take you to and from work. It matters to have a car to go on a date with your husband. It matters to have a car to grocery shop. Maybe it doesn't if you live in the city and don't have a car. But if you have a car, undoubtedly, you know a car matters.
While loving each other well, we have a rental car to get Jason to and from work, to get us to the grocery store and for other errands, and to drive around to view potential cars. I don't have to drive for my job until Wednesday, at which point, prayerfully, we will have a new car.
There is one car we just viewed that quite frankly, we both fell in love with (and yes, we already have a name picked out for her). We'll be test-driving it in a couple of days, but so far, it looks good to us and to my dad, who is our mechanic and car expert.
After all of this is said and done and we have a new car, I think we're really just going to buckle down, re-prioritize in terms of finances, emotions, time - in any way you can think of, we're going to be taking a look at our lives and adjusting as needed. The loss of Flamer is huge, but when I think about if I had been in the car, if Bug had been in the car, if Jason had hit on his side... I'm horrified. I don't want to have to lose Flamer. And I really don't want to have to lose Jason. This thought process is leading to a time of reflection and a time of re-evaluating.
I want us to grow stronger through this experience - I want us to become better drivers, I want us to be better analysts in the moment, I want us to love each other well all day, all the time, I want us to breathe deep and appreciate the every day little moments that make up life.
So there you have it. Our eulogy to Flamer. We may be crazy, but we're okay with that. If this inspires one person to appreciate their car more fully for everything that car has done for them, this post will have served its purpose.