Unexpected loss, and a new chapter - The Explorer: Editorials

Unexpected loss, and a new chapter

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Posted: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 11:00 pm | Updated: 8:11 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

After Bijou, my 10-week-old Bichon, had to be put down in September 2008, I was devastated, but consoled myself that at least it would be a long time before I would have to experience another significant loss.

I was wrong. This time, the loss was of a precious friend weighing several tons and pearly white in color — my beloved car, Purly White Stallion.

To those for whom a car is merely a possession that serves to get us from point A to B, it might be hard to understand my close sentimental attachment to Purly, who was 13 years old and who was my constant traveling companion for 10 of them.

Yes, Purly was showing the effect of his senior years and repairs were starting to escalate. I was thinking maybe it was getting near that time when Purly would take his last trip through those "Purly Gates" to that car playground in the sky. Where all makes and models wear the perpetual grin of the Chevron car icon.

What I was not prepared for was how Purly was quite literally ripped away from me, leaving me to mourn his unexpected demise.

To put all this in perspective, I take you, dear readers, back to the year 2000 when I was in need of a new car. My then significant other Ben, who later became my fiancé, researched the whole car scene as one only does for a dear friend or family member. He determined that a three-year-old Nissan Maxima, preferably in a light color, would best meet my needs.

That is exactly what we found. A price was agreed upon, and I drove Purly home that very day. It was the beginning of more than just a beautiful friendship; when I fastened the seat belt, we were quite literally attached at the hip.

First on the agenda was to give my new acquisition a name. Naming my car would begin the process of "taming" him, as The Little Prince would say, of distinguishing him from all the other cars on the road, for making him mine. "Purly White Stallion" encapsulated his essence.

Over the years, a close bond developed between us. Just last year, coming home alone from Phoenix, I got lost. I finally wound up going up a ramp in "Spaghetti Junction," that dizzying mass of highways at the entrance to the city. To calm myself, I started talking to Purly out loud. "We're going to get through this together, Purly," I repeated several times. "You do your part and I'll do mine." The next thing I knew, I was on I-l0 headed back to Tucson.

Then suddenly, on a sunny, cloudless afternoon about three months ago, it was all over. Just as I was turning into my quiet development from the main street, I heard and felt a horrible crunch of metal against metal coming from the back of my car. The impact spun me to the left into a car waiting to exit. In a state of shock, I asked the driver of the third car what had happened. "Somebody hit you," was the reply. And sure enough, 50 feet or so up the road was the car which ended my relationship with Purly.

What actually happened? Was the driver texting, distracted or simply lost in thought? I'll never know and in the end, it really doesn't much matter. All that really matters is the result.

Thank goodness, nobody was seriously hurt. And Purly, valiant warrior that he was, went out in a burst of glory, taking the major impact and protecting me. Although he was technically drivable after the accident, the cost of repairs was far greater than his Blue Book value. My beloved car was declared "totaled."

I took that weekend to grieve his loss — processing the story with friends, even shedding a few tears. A few days later, Purly was towed away as I watched, too stunned to cry. It was a surreal moment.

But his spirit will live on, as Purly will be an organ donor. I hope his top of the line tires, only three years old, and other salvageable parts will be used to help other cars to run as well as he did.

And then it was time to get on with my life. Anybody want to hear about the great deal I got on my new car, Honey Bunny?

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