09 May 2010
[mom + me - circa 1960something]
after losing my darling mom in 2005 i was immediately thrown into that moment in life i had always dreaded....mom is gone, what do i do now? i had just found out i was pregnant with my daughter annie and feeling a bit sorry for myself that i didn't have my mom to show me the way. all i wanted to do (and i did) was stand in her closet and bury my head in her soft sweaters and dresses that hung there, never to be worn again. i breathed deeply, trying to capture her scent. i am sure i "sniffed" every single item that hung there. my eyes closed tightly just so i could remember....her. i did the same with every bottle of perfume, every winter scarf, i held her purses knowing that her hands had held them too. when my mom was in the hospital i remember going to sleep holding the sweater she had just worn the day of her stroke. i often remembered putting on her pretty coats as a child and closing my eyes and inhaling deeply, because it was her. that familiar smell of mom. such a comforting smell. i remember my niece emily smelling freshly laundered clothes and announcing "this smells like nana's house"! aromatherapy...so very powerful.
i fear i have lost that scent of my mother. sure i can still smell a bottle of her perfume and i remember watching her as she would get ready to go out to dinner with my dad - i'd sit in the bathroom and watch her apply her makeup and brush her hair, carefully outlining her lips with a pretty shade of pink. but holding an article of clothing that she once wore, that intimate smell of mom is gone.
i remember going through my mom's dresser after she died. i felt horrible touching her things. it wasn't right. on so many levels it wasn't right. but there, buried deep in the back of her dresser was a little note that i had given to her when i was in grade school. she kept it all these years. i remember she and my dad were leaving on a trip to france and i had left her a note in her suitcase wishing her safe travels. and perhaps that was her way of keeping my scent with her, my childish handwriting in pencil. tucked away in the far back of her private things. a little piece of me. and i was so grateful and overwhelmed and thrilled and elated and so proud that my mother had thought enough of me to keep such a little trivial thing. that my words had meant something to her. it's a moment i often relive when i miss her so much i can hardly breathe and it helps me. it helps me be a better mother to annie. to realize that every little crumpled piece of paper my daughter hands me is a special little treasure. her little scent, left for me.
it's a privilege to be a mother. it's a privilege to be a daughter.
Happy Mother's Day Mom. I love you.