We’ve all been there.
Just minding our own business then here comes a familiar smell.
If you’re anything like me, you might stop and breathe in deeply, hoping for more of what it is that grabbed your attention.
Oftentimes, these scents are attached to memories.
As Widows, we can all relate.
The other day I was going through some things and came across a drugstore fragrance I had purchased right before I met my late husband.
Some perfumes can’t stand the test of time, but some can.
This inexpensive, sixteen year old perfume, still in its original box (I do that sometimes) transported me right back to when I had first purchased it in the Spring of 2006.
I hadn’t spritzed it on in several years and didn’t know what to expect.
But I was lucky and it smelled delightful.
I had been wearing it the day that I actually met Bret in person.
This isn’t the only fragrance to do this kind of thing.
When my mother’s mother – my grandma – passed, my mom would catch a whiff of a long commercially discontinued fragrance called L’Origan. (This is a bit ironic as my maternal grandmother had an aversion to most perfumes. L’Origan was a rare gem indeed, and also a simple drugstore fragrance.)
Sometimes we’d both catch a hint of this as well as her particular brand of cigarette smoke and would feel her presence.
As my life progressed, many different scents would awaken various sleeping memories.
Cigarette smoke being one that didn’t just make me think of my grandma, but in these later years, I’d think of Bret and even his father, who left us the same year that Bret did.
One recent visit to the town in which I was born, managed to line things up so perfectly – the outdoor smell, the perfect amount of warmth, the sound of the local birds and children playing in the distance – that instantly, I was four years old again.
For me personally, scent is the most powerful of all the senses with regard to evoking memories.
I can look at photos, I can watch videos and yes, these things are bittersweet catalysts for unlocking precious memories. Maybe a tear will fall, or maybe I’ll smile.
But if I catch a fleeting whiff of Bret’s cologne (don’t laugh – it was some of that Bod stuff, from the early aughts) – my heart will race and somehow, it makes my mind think that he’s nearby.
Logically, I know he’s not, but that’s what a scent can do.
I live in rodeo country and spent many hundreds of hours at local fair and rodeo events while I was growing up.
Some of those smells are not exactly inviting on their own, but just the perfect mixture of the animals, grilled onions from a nearby concession, cigarette smoke (again) and beer – yes, beer – and I’m transported back to my days on the Union County Fair Court.
When I was first widowed, a fellow widow told me to take some of Bret’s clothes, wrap them up tightly and store them in Ziplock bags, to preserve the scent.
It was one of the best pieces of advice that I got early on.
There’s just something about being able to catch the scent of someone (or something) that reassures us that they are still with us; and that we can still feel the joy they brought to us, even if only for a moment.
Photo by LBM