When all the other American 16 year-olds were getting their drivers’ licenses and pestering their parents for cars, I was living in Europe with my family, and completely ignoring 4-wheeled transportation in favor of trains, buses, metros, and trams. When I moved back to the U.S., though, I didn’t find the public transportation to be nearly as useful, and finally learned to drive at the ripe old age of 21. My parents helped me decide on a car and learn some of the ins-and-outs of buying a car, and helped me with the payments in those early days of car ownership (thanks again, guys!) I can still remember some of the cars we looked at — mostly used, a few new. I finally settled on a new 1999Saturn SL-2, a basic 4 door sedan that wasn’t going to break any speed or style records, but would be fine for all my needs. I remember thinking, when I first was considering that car, “This will probably be my main car for the next 5-10 years. Can I picture it in front of my first home? Can I picture driving home from work to a husband? Can I picture buckling a little car seat into the back, and an even-littler baby into it? Is it possible that some day, I’ll drive that baby to school in it?”
I am actually crying now as I think about that day, and remember having those first thoughts. I’m happy to say that, even though I hadn’t met my husband at that time (that would happen a year and a half later), all of those things happened in that car. I named her Sadie.
In early 2001, I packed Sadie to the gills and drove it with my mom to Walt Disney World. After a few days, Mom flew home. Sadie and I stayed for the next 7 months, where we met, dated, and fell in love with Brandon and his Nissan 240SX (It didn’t have a name, to the best of my knowledge….. I have enough trouble getting him to help name our kids, so I’m sure the car didn’t fare well in that respect). In December of that same year, Sadie was packed up again, and driven across the country from Tennessee to Utah, with Brandon and his brother Jordan as our “chaperone” escorting me to my new home (for 4 years) in Utah.
In 2002, Brandon and I got married and drove Sadie to Walt Disney World again to spend time over the summer working in the theme parks again.
In 2003, Sadie took us to the doctor where we got to see a miracle — another heartbeat besides my own in my body.
In 2004, that much-anticipated car seat got buckled in as tight as we could make it, and our first child went for his first ride in my first car.
In 2005, we welcomed another stranger’s heartbeat at another doctor’s appointment early in the year. And late that year, we welcomed a new rider in the car shortly before Christmas — yes, that was when and where our cat chose us. Catie also made it in under-the-wire. We brought her home from the hospital on New Year’s Eve, with Sadie protectively housing two small carseats, two small bodies in the backseat.
In 2006, Sadie went across the country for her last time. She took our family to Maryland for the adventure of a lifetime — when Brandon took the plunge to start working from home, and we’ve never looked back!
In 2007, Sadie was relegated to second-car status — we bought a family van, and Sadie became the car we used when just one of us needed to make an outing without the whole family. I spent many a happy evening going to yarn shops and knitting nights with her, though, so please don’t think she was ignored!
In 2008, I made another kind of outing where it was just me — you guessed it! Another doctor’s appt, another heartbeat! Sadie and I were giddy about us being the only two who knew for that drive home!
In 2009, Sadie made her last long trip. Brandon and she drove to our new home — our first house! — in Georgia. This time, she was left out in the cold, while the rest of the family and the van welcomed home Andrew. She was one of the last to meet him, when he was already a few months old.
In 2010, Sadie had some exciting moments, though! She and Brandon spent a lot of quality time together on several trips back and forth to Atlanta as Brandon started a new business venture. She held me as I cried when I came back from the doctor, this time confirming a miscarriage. She took us for a much-needed weekend away, while the kids stayed home with babysitters. She also fulfilled one of the last hopes I had for her — she has made several trips back and forth to take our first child to school.
As you’ve probably guessed, though, it’s time to say good-bye to Sadie. I’m crying as I think about her and all the great moments I’ve we’ve had with her. It’s amazing for me to look back to when I got her, and to think about how much my life has changed in the past 11 years! Unfortunately, on Brandon’s last trip back from Atlanta with her, her engine started making a knocking sound. We hoped it was just a belt, or something else easily fixable, but a trip to the mechanic confirmed the worst, and Saturns are notorious for the high cost involved in replacing the engine block. We’ve decided to trade her in towards a new (to us!) car. Because of her engine trouble and her age, she won’t be sold to anyone else, so I wanted to mourn her as she deserves. I have hope that she’ll at least get to be an “organ donor” and that part of her will continue to live on, helping to keep other families safe and happy.
And the fact that I can’t stop crying right now? Well, it’s probably partly because of hormones. For those who don’t know, Sadie did get to take me for one more of her favorite trips — to confirm one more healthy heartbeat joining our family. She won’t be here to meet our new baby next March, but I’m glad she was there to begin the journey with me. Rest in Peace, Sadie (and no, if the new baby’s a girl, her name won’t be Sadie!)