Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Smell

I didn’t mean to.
I was only trying to help,
to help him,

because he missed you so much.

He was in your closet.
He came out and said,
“It doesn’t smell like Daddy anymore.”

He looked so sad.
He looked so forlorn.

So I showed him my secret.
Your cap.
The one I keep folded up
in a Ziplock bag,
stashed in my
bedside table.

I unzipped it.

We both inhaled.
It smelled like you.

And then his face crumbled.
Mirroring mine, I think.

Your smell.
Your smell reminding us,
of how it no longer surrounds us,
how it is not just part of the background of our lives,
how it is fading,
from your cap,
from us.

We didn’t remember what you smelled like
till that moment.

And after we remembered,

me and Ezra,
Ezra and I,
sat on the floor
holding each other,
sobbing like ….

the people we are.

A wife,
a son,
missing you.


  1. I can relate to this so much. My husband also had cancer. He had a cap. I still have his things in his closet. When I am feeling lonely, I go into his closet and grab the clothes that were his hanging there and hug them. They no longer smell like him either, but they feel like him. They fuzzy fleece jacket he use to wear when he left the house. It helps me to remember and sometimes to feel better, other times to cry. My daughters too will go into his closet sometimes. Life isn't fair they should have their father and us our husband, but I know we must go on without them. Still, we will always remember them even when or if someone else takes their place as our partner.

  2. Thank you. There is a hat I have kept for the same reason. Amazing the peace that inhaling that kept hat can give. Nothing like it. Thank you for sharing. Virtual hugs come your way.

  3. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful and painful moment. Early on in my husbands diagnosis a good friend sent me a card and she wrote "hang on tightly to each other" . I think it is the only way through. You gave your son an opportunity to grieve the loss of his father and that is so important - to be able to speak about the things of the heart. To not have to pretend. I am so grateful you mentioned the cap, after my husband died I took the last black tshirt he wore and sealed it an large bag - for the same reason, to be able to bring him back to me. I know someday I will open the bag and it will no longer linger - the essence of him but . . . I hang on tightly to all he was for as long as I can.

  4. So sad, so true. I sleep with my husband's blanket, but realized recently that it just barely smells like him anymore. Sometimes after a shower, I will pull out his deoderant from the back of the drawer and stand in the steamy room and breathe it in. It "almost" makes me think he's just gotten out of the shower and I can smell him.....almost.

  5. I thought I was crazy with the t-shirt tucked into the plastic bag. When I got home from the hospital, I cleaned house and cleaned house and cleaned house. Did all the laundry probably twice, then realized I had nothing that smelled like him. What the hell was I thinking? I remember sitting in the back yard sobbing into dog fur as I realized that I'd never smell "him" again. Then out of the blue a t-shirt showed up in the laundry. He'd worn it to the hospital and it very much smelled like him. Where did it come from? How did I miss it in my cleaning spree? I have no idea but it is now sealed in a bag and it lays on his pillow each night. Every once in awhile I look at it and think "you really are crazy", but there it stays. I'd like to think I was supposed to miss it in my quest to get rid of the hospital smell that I hated, and continue to hate, so much.

    Thanks for sharing a beautiful moment. You did a good thing for Ezra even though it hurt.

  6. I still have Don's hats...I haven't smelled them in awhile...I know his scent is fading. I'm afraid the next time it will be gone. I'm not ready to face that yet. I still have his last bottle of "Old Spice"...I smell it occasionally, but in time it will smell different, more bitter. I'll keep the bottle anyway!

  7. 8 months tomorrow - on Valentine's Day. :(

    Yes, I felt so sad when I realized Dave's scent was fading from the clothes in his closet after a few months. So, I sprayed some of his body spray into his closet and then deeply inhaled that familar scent.
    Shortly after I let the dog inside and he immediately looked up at me then raced through the house looking for Dave. He finally stopped at Dave's side of the bed and eventually gave up.
    I felt so bad.

  8. thank you to all of you for sharing. I can't get rid of anything my husband had. I use the deodorant, bar soap and hair stuff he use to use, just to get a sense of him. I have his cap as well. I may not be able to pick up his scent but when I smell the products he used I can pretend....