Loving and Losing a Car

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York photoshops her banged up Prius as she wonders why she is carrying on about loving and losing a car.Falling in love or forming any strong emotional attachments was not going to happen after my daughter died. No more grieving for me, I thought. But last week, losing my car, I cried like I was losing my best friend. A friend who had faithfully protected me with its life, to the bitter end.

On the way to Boston for the weekend, passing a slow-moving vehicle on a busy highway, I pulled left into the middle lane and discovered a huge truck tire lying in my path. There was no way to avoid it. My beautiful Prius crashed into it with a great thud. This is the end, I told myself upon impact. But the car somehow plowed through the tire. I kept driving. There was no way to pull over or stop so I continued on, shaken but unharmed. The Prius, who I’d long ago named Peeje after a beloved pigeon, got me to my destination and days later, back home to Ithaca, New York. And after the weekend, checking out the damage, I learned I’d smashed the car’s sub-frame, under-panels, radiator, and every single part of her belly.
“Call your insurance company, this is going to cost you…” the mechanic told me.

With visions of skyrocketing premiums, big bucks for major repairs, and weeks of car rentals, I took my Peeje to the Toyota Dealership where they offered me a small trade-in towards a new Prius, and I accepted it. Immediately. Gratefully.

Then suddenly, I had tears in my eyes and was stroking Peeje’s hood with both hands. There I was, once more grieving the loss of a familiar, comfortable, beloved part of my life. We had a lot of history, Peeje and I. When she was still new we got lost together exploring October Mountain in the Berkshires. Many a snowstorm we’d slowly inched up the long hill to my house, both of us willing her little engine to keep chugging. This was the car that carried elderly loved ones (now gone) with wheelchairs and walkers to fancy restaurants. She carried me through dark empty streets to retrieve friends who’d drunk too much. “Thanks, Peeje,” I’d say every time she got me home safely.

“You’re gonna have a whole new re-built life,” I sobbed to my Peeje, driving her home one last time, to empty out the six-year accumulation of stuff in every corner of her. I wondered, after all I’ve been though, why I was carrying on so about loving and losing a car. But I gently dusted off her seats and lovingly packed her snow tires into her trunk. And let her go.


How on earth does one end up loving a car or a house or something that doesn’t even have eyes or a heart?


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6 thoughts on “Loving and Losing a Car

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    Good job, Robin. I’m glad you didn’t get hurt. It’s a miracle of its own. And that your trusty car kept going with all that damage. May she have continued long life–and you, too.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      I named the new car Vive. Meaning ‘live’ and ‘long life.’ I’m still pining after my faithful old car but am feeling blessed to have survived the experience. Thank you for your well-wishes, Elaine.

  2. Lynne Taetzsch

    I understand completely, Robin. I had a Honda Element for fourteen years. It was the only small SUV that I could fit ALL my paintings in–even the largest. I’d take out the seats and pack it with art to take to a gallery. The seats could be put up on the sides, flat down, or taken out. I loved that car. But a year or so ago, I realized it was getting harder for me to adjust the seats, and by this time the driver’s side door often would not open with my key. With encouragement from family, I tried out a Honda CRV. It would fit all but my largest size paintings and my grandson said he’d help me with his truck when I needed to move the larger ones. The CRV drove beautifully. Its doors unlocked automatically. I was sold.

    But every time I see a Honda Element on the rode, I miss my old car. It was my friend–solid, sturdy, good in Ithaca winters. I still wonder if I made a mistake, but you had no choice.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      ‘Guess we’ll always be wondering of we made mistakes, Lynne. There are still friends who point out to me that I shoulda/coulda taken the insurance money and fixed that Prius. But experiencing a whole new car is mighty awesome. I can keep the memories and now enjoy a fresh smooth ride and immaculately clean interiors. A new car. What a gift to myself. But what an expense. Am I worthy of this, I wonder? I think we have to learn to make friends of all the new things that we meet up with in our lives, even if they are replacing fondest old friends and things that served us so well in the past. Even if it was “a mistake.” We are human. We are entitled to a mistake or two in our lives. And with time, even a mistake, a grand mistake, can become something precious and memorable.

  3. Pam

    Oh Robin, that’s very poignant! I wonder if the attachment is partly because the ‘beloved object’ (car, house, whatever it may be) was the scene or conveyance or other mode of interaction with someone beloved, or of an adventure like your October Mountain one, and to lose the object is to drop a link in the continuity of memory of closeness to the person(s), or other intensity of experience. If we didn’t have to part with the object, our memories of love for someone or of an experience would be undisturbed, and it’s painful to have them disturbed.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Yes, Pam, Peeje and I certainly had a lot of history and that does complicate things when you have to let go. Actually, my parting with the previous Prius was the really tough one as that had been the car that carried my daughter back and forth countless times to the hospital in Rochester, the medical center on Long Island, and on shopping trips to Syracuse where we’d load up the trunk and seats with purchases. That was the Prius where Marika threw up after celebrating the end of her rounds of chemo by eating oysters and sushi at the Monroe Street Wegmans in Rochester. I believe that was the Prius that I drove to pick my son up from Fort Drum near Watertown when he ended his deployment in Afghanistan. Man, did I cry buckets when I traded in that old Prius.


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