After turning in the dreaded research paper, I made my way to a mall I never go to, just so I could exchange that gorgeous dress for a different size (don't ask). Thankfully they had it, and thankfully they held it for me.
As I was walking out of the store, I was overcome by a smell that is hard for me to describe. It smelled like bacon, eggs, italian food cooking, the inside of an old oven, tomato plants, my grandfather's aftershave, my grandmother's perfume, fresh-baked bread, soapy dishes in the sink, and a crisp morning newspaper. These are the smells of my grandparents' house in New York. My grandparents who are no longer alive, and haven't been for many years.
I was so overcome that I actually stopped walking and stood in the middle of the mall. I turned around in a circle, frantically looking for a sign that would make sense-maybe someone was carrying one of those things? Maybe an older person walked by? Maybe...?
No one was around me. I sucked in my breath, trying to hold on to the smell, and tears filled my eyes.
I believe that those we love (and those that love us) visit us after they die. My mother says she has felt her mother riding home with her after a visit to the cemetary. Over the years, my grandmother has visited me in my dreams, sometimes looking as she did when I was very young, sometimes looking as she did before she died, and sometimes somewhere in between those two times. She used to visit me regularly, but over the course of the past 3 or 4 years, it is more sporadic, yet just as treasured (if not more).
I have always connected memories to smells. Orange roses remind me of a summer where things were different. The smell of chlorine is full of summer nights that never ended, splashing in the pool with friends. Cold weather & a fireplace burning are full of strong love, and lost love. Some men's colognes propel me back to middle school, while others push me towards times where I sat in my father's lap or held his hand in church. The smell of Red perfume brings me right back to watching my mother get ready for work, and stealing her makeup after she left. The smell of all different foods are attached to so many memories, I can't even begin to explain it.
I called my mother, trying to explain the smell. She immediately 'got' it. She always 'gets' me, and I am so very thankful for that. I have a huge smile on my face, realizing that she is right: my grandparents came to visit me today, for the briefest of moments.