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We donated our family car after 22 years. A piece of us is now missing.

Miranda Ferrante   

We donated our family car after 22 years. A piece of us is now missing.
  • My parents got a GMC car when my twin and I were a little bit over a year old.
  • That car was in our family for 22 years, making memories along the way.

What do you know at 17 months old? Nothing at all, really. But back in 2002, at 1.5 years old I knew the perfect color for the family car.

My father always likes to tell the story of how he held baby me in his arms in the lot of a now demolished car dealership. With twin babies, my parents were parting ways from the minivan they had first, they wanted something a bit bigger.

Three cars were in my view: A maroon, a pewter and a third that none of us can remember. My father asked which I liked best, and when I pointed my small toddler finger at the pewter colored car, he was sold. That was the one.

That would be our family car for the next 22 years.

Cars are an extension of our family

Our car was part of the family. We spent a lot of time together — from the drive to work or school each day, to it being what keeps us warm from the grueling winter storms and transported us to vacations, where lifelong memories were made. Cars are personal. And it makes perfect sense why some, like my family, give them nicknames and a vanity license plate.

For us, it was "the tank," donned with a plate that was an ode to my twin brother and I and our birth year. This March, after months of emotional back and forth, my parents made the heartbreaking decision to donate our 2002 GMC Yukon XL to Kars4Kids. When my mother told me they made that choice, tears filled her eyes. We were all emotional.

Up until we donated the car in March, my brother and I still sat in our assigned seats we chose as young children. On family trips my dad always drove, I sat behind him. My mother sat in the passenger seat, with my brother behind her. With three rows and eight seats, we had a lot of options when it came to where to sit. But we never deviated from the ones we chose.

Since my brother and I were 17 months old, the pewter colored car held a space in our driveway, and a space in our hearts. And now it is gone.

A missing piece

Maybe it's a little weird to feel this connected to a vehicle. But for two decades it greeted us as we drove down the hill to our house and now suddenly, it's gone. The car was special for that and so many reasons.

Getting rid of a car after so long is like throwing away memories. As we aged, so did the car. As we grew older, the exterior faded and brakes went wonky.

A piece of our family is missing. We're grieving all the little moments and memories that the car was there for. "The tank" was quite literally there for us during major life milestones, physically carrying my brother and I through our formative years: My dance recitals, his musical performances, our first high school party and college move in days.

Each day when I come home from work or my classes, I expect "The tank" to be in our driveway. But it's no longer there. And like the saying "you don't know what you've lost until it's gone," I didn't really think about its significance until we donated it.

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