Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Friday morning, July 9, 2010

I’m sitting on the couch in our living room with a cat on my lap, reading.

Out of the blue, I smell Mom. It’s very distinct, but I don’t know why. I’ve showered, put lotion with a little sunscreen on my face, and put my nightgown back on. Maybe that’s why: that combination of clean and sleep.

She smelled like cedar and lilac, like her hope chest and the little sachet she kept in her underwear drawer. Also, a faint whiff of ripe fruit and sour milk before showering.

The fragrance brings images to mind: her unwashed hair and wrinkly pajamas.

The unmistakable pattern of her breathing during sleep (in her nose, out her mouth, and the little catch in her throat when the air changed direction).

Warm blankets and nest of sheets before getting out of bed.

Bare feet in the hallway between bedroom and bathroom.

The perfect footprint left in her flip-flops.

Her and Dad’s bedroom with an open window and a fan on all night.
The hide-a-bed in the living room where she slept with me when I was sick.

Her jewelry box and the sad, beautiful music it played when the little key in the back was wound.

Cats we had when I was a kid who snuggled with us: Whimsy, Louisa, Cara. It was an honor to have a kitty sleep with me when I was the one they chose to be near. Two bodies up against each other, as comfortable as possible, sharing a common nest. That sense of being chosen, feeling warm safe and content is the best way to describe Mom’s smell.

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