I’m sitting here wondering whether it’s OK to be grieving a car.
You see, he’s 24 years old now, and I worry every time I drive him if something will happen even though in all his years he’s only once broken down to the point of requiring a tow, and that was probably five or six years ago now.
His name is Malcolm. Initially he had a longer name, almost like a pedigree dog, that my husband gave him, but I no longer recall the rest of it. He’s been simply Malcolm for a long time.
He’s a simple car — a ’91 Honda Civic DX. He got 40 mpg on the highway back then and still gets that sometimes today. He doesn’t have AC because back in ’91 when we bought him in Portland, we didn’t need it. He doesn’t even have a radio because we thought if we didn’t put one in, he’d be less a target for break-ins in break-in prone Portland. Still, he was broken into five or six times there and even once in Grants Pass.
I know that part of my grief about Malcolm is about the loss of a final connection to my husband, who died after we’d had Malcolm only three years. We bought Malcolm together, he and I. I talked him into it, I remember at the time. He had only bought used cars up to that point. But after only a few months, he loved our new car. He died unexpectedly from cancer at age 40. I have very little left now from our years together. There is really only Malcolm.
But I’ve decided I need a new car. I want to be able to take a few car trips, and Malcolm really may not be up for long-distance travel anymore. It makes me feel sad. I know Malcolm likely has no feelings about any of this. I mean he’s just a car, right? However, it’s a little surprising that on the day I suddenly got laid off from my job of eight years, two years ago now, Malcolm sustained a hit to his left side by a backing car while he was parked. The same day. Malcolm and I have been through a lot together.
So whether it’s OK, I’m grieving my friend of 24 years. So long, my little, red Honda Civic. You’ve been the best. So long Malcolm.
Rachel O'Neal lives in Talent.