When my husband, Rob, and I moved to Charlottesville in August of 2001, I bought a new car—a trusty Toyota Corolla.
One year later, we left the maternity unit with our first child–our daughter, Liana. We strapped her into her car seat and drove off on a new adventure with our greatest privilege–and responsibility.
From the get-go, Liana seemed to have a mind of her own; she knew what she wanted.
As an older baby, she’d make noises while being held until we reached a certain destination. Rob and I joked that she liked us to carry her, not so much to be cuddled as to have a mode of transportation.
As for crawling and walking—this girl could not wait to go for it!
Liana continued along these lines, even riding a plane by herself at nine years old to visit her best friend who had moved away.
Fast-forward several more years–she was eager to get her driver’s license. She reached that milestone this past fall and started to borrow—did you guess?–my Corolla.
One month ago I bought a new car, and the Corolla is now Liana’s “new” car. It’s no longer fit for driving over mountains or long distances on the highway, but it’s still fine for local driving.
Yeah, it’s scratched and dented. It’s hit lots of potholes and bumps. It’s gone quite the distance. It’s not exactly a teenager’s aesthetic (or technological) dream, but she’s grateful.
That old Corolla—may it be as good to her as it’s been to me. I knew that I’d drive it for years. That’s what Rob and I do: we keep our cars. But I didn’t think I’d keep the Corolla for 18 years. Eighteen years of errands, carpools, and road trips.
Eighteen years of graduations—from preschool, elementary, and middle school.
This coming spring, Liana is due to graduate from high school. I’m already feeling her impending departure. I’m very excited for her. And yet, I’ll miss her so much.
I often find myself thinking, “This is the last [fill in the blank].” I’m growing sentimental (even more than usual). Five for Fighting’s song, “100 Years” runs through my head: “The sun is getting high. We’re moving on.” I know, I know, but I can’t help it…
I live life, feeling both the loss and the gratitude. For me, each magnifies the other: more loss because of the gratitude; more gratitude because of the loss. But in the end, gratitude wins big time. We’re lucky that she’s able to live her life.
For much of Liana’s childhood, it may have looked as though I were in the driver’s seat, but really, I’ve just been a guide.
I trust that Liana will continue to make good choices, to define success on her own terms, to live her best life. And I wish her all the luck in the world as she continues on her adventure, with greater privilege—and responsibility. I can’t wait to see where she takes herself.
One thing’s for sure: This girl is going places.
And wherever she goes… may she always see the wonder in the world.
Until we meet again,