The Passing of Earl Grey

Perhaps you have seen this Toyota commercial. A camera pans several families and individuals at various stages of life riding in and enjoying their varying model year Toyota Camrys. A mellow masculine voice hints at their stories; “Little Billy grew up in the back seat of one – Tina proposed to Bud in hers – Mary rode to her wedding in her Dad’s and John went off to college in one.” It’s a great commercial. It tugs at your heart because it is true; we live life in our cars.

This morning, as I was cleaning out my grey Toyota Camry (aptly named Earl Grey), preparing to trade it in, that commercial came to mind. I was sorry to think the boys and girls on Madison Avenue missed our Camry life story; Lisa and Anthony found life in one.

In this Camry we made countless rounds of doctors searching for intelligent enlightened care for his mysterious disease. We logged agonizingly long hours to Indianapolis as Anthony gritted his teeth in pain, afraid to move an inch worrying his temporary ostomy bag might not hold. And many a late night snow was hastily brushed off Earl Grey as we quickly loaded up for another run to the emergency room or pharmacy. In this Camry Anthony wrestled with his God and danced a metaphysical two-step with his soul. In this Camry we both cried and prayed and begged and pleaded for God to return Anthony’s health. In this Camry we groped our way through some of the most profound dialogues I have ever been privileged to participate in. And it was in this sleek grey box of steel, hurtling along at 70 mph, that I witnessed the growth of a soul.

Checking all of Earl Grey’s nooks and crannies for anything I might have missed, I wondered who the next owner would be. I wondered if they would be sensitive enough to intuit that something miraculous happened in this Camry – that a life almost lost was saved and that a soul grew up. Would they feel a mother’s exhaustion and worry? Would her prayers linger as a whisper? Would the new owners feel the energy left behind; anger, sadness, wonderment and finally the joy from our last trip home from the hospital when Anthony was declared in remission? Or would Earl Grey, our Camry-often-cathedral, pass away into nothing more than a really good used car?

Little Billy grew up in the back seat of one. Tina proposed to Bud in hers. Mary rode to her wedding in her Dad’s. John went off to college in one, while Lisa and Anthony found life in theirs. Farewell Earl Grey.

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