When Kevin Duke bought his 16-year-old daughter Jada her first car, he had no idea that what he found tucked under its dash would be more valuable than the vehicle itself.
And no, he didn’t find a diamond ring, or a stash of cash left behind by the previous owner, but rather, a letter — with words worth their weight in gold.
A letter that spoke of heartbreak and happiness, death and dirty diaper changes, and road trips with windows rolled down as Skynyrd’s “Freebird” blared through the speakers.
In a storage compartment on top of the dash, the father found an envelope under a rubber mat that he had never noticed before.
It simply read, “New Car Owner. Important Info Inside.”
Little did Kevin know just how “important” that info really was…
I bought my daughter, Jada, a used car a couple weeks ago. Since she doesn’t turn 16 until March, I’m driving it to see if there are any kinks to work out before I give it to her. Well, yesterday I’m in it tinkering around and I open this storage compartment on top of the dash (which I’ve opened a half dozen times already). This time I notice a rubber mat in the bottom of it and for whatever reason, I pull it out. To my surprise, I find this envelope with this letter inside. I won’t lie, I shed a few tears.
The letter reads:
“To the person that gets this car,
I just wanted to let you know what a special vehicle you’ve bought. This car belonged to my mom. She passed away February 25, 2015 in a house fire along with my 6-year-old daughter and my aunt. The last time my mom drove this car was the day she left us. Her and my daughter went out shopping and got their hair cut.
This car holds a lot of special memories for me. My home and everything in it is gone, this car is all that I had left to touch.
There was a mix up with paperwork and that’s caused the car to not be paid off by insurance. It’s very upsetting that I have lost my family, my home and now I’m losing this last link I have with my mom and child through no fault of my own. I’m not mad at you. I hope this car is the best car you’ve ever owned. I hope it runs for 100 more years. I hope the backseat is filled with kids and toys and random things. My family filled this car with lots of love and other sticky things. We took road trips, blared 80’s and country music and rolled the windows down. I’ve changed more diapers in the backseat than I can count. There’s probably a sucker stick or a crayon hidden somewhere that belonged to my baby. Maybe an entire chicken nugget. HA!
I don’t know if you’ll see it but there may be a dirty spot on the dash. My daughter and I would pretend to go on adventures while we sat in the driveway and she always put her feet there. The dent on the rear driver’s side fender and the dent in the passenger side door are where my daughter learned to ride… and crash… her bike a few months before her death. I know it’s just a car to you, but to me it’s so much more.
Life happened in this car.
Love, joy and adventure was had in this car. So now that it’s yours, please remember it isn’t just a car. It’s a memory. This car with all its quirks is the last piece of my family. Be nice to it. Play it a country song. Big Green Tractor was my daughter’s favorite song ever, or some Lynyrd Skynyrd Freedbird. That song meant so much to us that I played it at their funerals.
You’re riding with angels. My angels.
Talk to them if you like, I’m sure they’d like to see and hear about any new adventures you take in this car. By the way, her name is Sylvia. The very first day mom got this car, we all rode around and Dr. Hook’s Sylvia’s Mother came in the radio. The name kind of just stuck when my daughter said that’s what we should name the car. So please don’t change her name. If you ever want to sell Sylvia, please try to find me. I just paid for 3 funerals, I can’t afford to buy it right now, but hopefully, I’ll be in a better financial situation if you decide later that she’s just not right for you anymore.
Be blessed, be happy, live and love like we did. I wish you, and Sylvia, the best!”
Since Kevin shared Sabrina’s heartbreakingly beautiful words with the world, it has been shared, liked and commented on by tens of thousands of people who have been touched by her story.
The most notable comment on that thread was one from Sabrina herself, who never anticipated Sylvia’s story would travel this far:
“Your support here is so encouraging,” she wrote, adding that “overwhelmed” is the only word she can use to describe the overload of feelings.
“I’m emotional, can’t quit crying and I feel so much love I could just burst,” said Sabrina.
Though crushed by the weight of her loss, the mother is comforted in knowing her story has ignited hope in others— and she has one simple charge for those who have taken the time to read her tear-soaked words: