change, “The Little Car”


My son, as many of you know, is autistic. Change is very hard for him. He exemplifies what many of us feel at times of change, but in the extreme.

On Saturday, when he was away at a therapy program, we had to scrap our Toyota Paseo of 13 years. It was 17 years old, ran well over 169,000 miles, and finally the engine went.

Nathan had wanted to clean and fix the car (himself), and when he saw it was gone, it broke his heart, and he cried a broken-hearted cry for quite a bit. Yesterday, at breakfast he sang a song, of mourning,

“I miss you Little Car. I miss you so much. I miss you Little Car, I do…”

We salvaged the license plate, and he was happy for this. He colored two pieces of paper similar to the color of the car, and had Tim, my husband, attach the plate to it. Today, he took it to school to show his class, and tell the tale. It seemed to bring some closure for him, even as we discussed these plans.

Even though change is inevitable, it seems to me that some ritual is important to journey through change. Nathan is a good teacher. He feels things very deeply, and sometimes his tenderness, even towards machines, reminds the rest of us, that bonds can grow tight, and separation hurts the heart. It’s not something to just “get over,” but rather something to swim through, like mud, sometimes.

Below are some pictures of Nathan’s friend, and our family transportation for the last 13 years, The Little Car.

What rituals, or ways of transitioning, have helped you or others during loss?

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