Dark Orchid No. 1, better known as Victoria’s Secret Seduction, was the fragrance Bethany requested for her birthday. She wanted the gift pack that included perfume, body wash, lotion and a candle and that’s what she got. I don’t know where the perfume, lotion, and candle got to, maybe she used them all up, but a small tube of body wash remains and has been residing in a cabinet in the girl’s bathroom for the last year. Every once in awhile, I reach up and pull it down off the shelf, pop that top and breathe in her fragrance, but I’ve never before dared use it.
A week or two ago, I grabbed that small black tube off the shelf and moved it to the ledge around the deep tub in my master bathroom. And today, well today, I moved that small tube from the tub to the shower.
When I got in the shower this morning, however, I grabbed my standard bar of bath soap to wash away the dirt from the day before. I washed my hair with the shampoo that currently sits on the shelf – lathered, rinsed, repeated all before reaching for that small tube of bath gel, flipping it’s pop-top lid, closing my eyes and slowly inhaling.
There I stood breathing in the aroma of my oldest daughter. It’s like a precious ointment, one you use sparingly, to make it last, and that’s exactly what I did. Squeezing out a small dot onto one of those shower poofs before lathering it all over my skin. Squeezing out another drop, closing my eyes and lathering it into my hair as tears fell and my heart heaved desperate longing for the two daughters I will never again embrace this side of Heaven.
The fragrance of one, the image of the other happily sitting at her older sister’s feet, face tilted up and filled with joy just to be in her presence, just to have her home for a few fleeting days, danced behind my closed eyelids.
I breathe them in, breathe them in, breathe them in, all the while aware it’s only an illusion of their presence and yet clinging to this olfactory memory and the images it unveils, as if I were able to hold both Bethany and Katie’s hands, fingers entwined with mine.
Today, I will repeatedly inhale the soft fragrance of love and laughter, tears, and anger, hurts, and happiness over and over and tomorrow I’ll wake to find Bethany’s scent has drifted away and feel the excruciating loss again just as Bethany and Katie slipped beyond my reach a little over a year ago. But today, today, I will breathe them in . . .