Green Paint, White Truck

March 5, 2021

One day in highschool, with a friend by my side and places to go, I got behind the wheel in a hurry. Such a desperate hurry I paid no attention to the proximity of the vehicles in the driveway. In full disclosure, I’m not even sure I noticed my father’s truck, which was parked directly next to my car. That is, until the moment I hit it. 

Hit might be a bit dramatic, what I actually did was slide and scrape my hunter green car, alongside my father’s white truck until I had successfully left a bold green stripe down the side of a previously solid white truck. 

I looked at the damage in shock and disbelief. My friend looked at me with shock and disbelief. Instantly, I knew I had a choice. Most people would have likely walked inside with full disclosure and explained things to their father. Not me. I knew if I did that two things would happen:

  1. He’d be insanely upset.
  2. I’d be late to my destination, if I was able to go at all. 

So, I did the admirable thing and drove away with full intentions on telling my father the messy details when I returned. Ok, the opposite of admirable, but fully in line with the kind of teenager I was, constantly in a hurry and desperate not to miss any fun. Lucky for me this was before cell phones and constant access to people. For the time being, I was unreachable and free from consequence. 

Later that night I came home to two upset and extremely disappointed parents and a conversation that I knew was coming all along. The situation was made worse by the fact that I had decided to avoid, dismiss, and deflect from the accident, knowing full well that it would need to be dealt with eventually. 

Had I have slowed down and acknowledged the situation from the very beginning my consequences would have been less and my destruction would have been confined to only the vehicles. Instead I destroyed my car, my father’s truck, and through avoidance I had also dismantled my parent’s trust for me. 

Things were much worse because I chose to avoid the truth, run towards a distraction, and shield myself from the inevitable consequences. 

It’s a story that decades later reminds me of grief. 

It’s a situation that shows how avoidance, dismissal, denial and distraction are only temporary fixes. Temporary solutions and temporary shields from pain, and heartbreak, and consequence. 

Grief cannot be avoided. 

It cannot be dismissed. It cannot be denied or creatively distracted from. It will always resurface and demand to be acknowledged. 

Green paint on a white truck. It’s noticeable. It commands attention and shouts complicated mess. It’s a visual that something has happened, something unplanned and unwanted. A transformation caused by a catastrophe and changes things. 

Grief isn’t easy but it can certainly become more complicated and painful by temporary solutions and temporary shields. 

Just like the green paint on my dad’s white truck, things needed to be dealt with. Things needed to be discussed and handled. That truck needed to be fixed, never returning the same, for it had tiny and hidden repairs. Repairs no one could see but ones that we knew were there. That truck was never the same again after that day, but it was still a truck. It was still useful and just as worthwhile as it once was, it was simply messier underneath. 

And that’s grief, green paint on a white truck. Its messy insides, covered with love and acknowledgement. Healed enough over time that others don’t notice, but powerful enough that you never forget the destruction and mess that remain hidden underneath a fresh coat of paint, a little hope and a smile. 

xox, Chels

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Chelsea Ohlemiller

Chelsea Ohlemiller

A thirty-something wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.

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