Sometimes you just have no idea what’s going to happen to you on any given day. I certainly think I have come a very long way since the days when everything from the leaves on the ground to the smell of pumpkin pie or a wafting scent on the wind would throw me into a complete and utter tailspin.
But for my middle child, my second daughter, that isn’t necessarily the case. Last night seems to be a perfect example.
It wasn’t necessarily the easiest of days for my daughter. We’re juggling the requirements for her Catholic Confirmation. She’s also a freshman in high school which, let’s face it, isn’t the easiest of prospects even for kids with two parents. Since her mother, my wife Andrea, passed away, Hannah’s had her ups and downs. Hannah, you see, was very, very close to her mother.
It’s not that the two of us haven’t gotten closer, she certainly has. Each night, it seems, she’s waiting for me to come home and perform the latest song she’s learned – usually on my Dobro guitar – after completing her homework. She’s certainly going through a mixture of indy rock – a la Paramore – and hipster singer-songwriter phase. Lots of shuddering angst and acoustic guitars. (Okay, Paramore has no acoustics, really, but go with the analogy here)
But it was a simple trip to the bathroom that threw her sideways tonight. I’m not exactly certain why she was rummaging through the cabinets in the downstairs cabinet. Still, in looking through the things that her older sister – now in college – left behind she seems to have found an old bottle of perfume. That perfume, though, for whatever reason, was a bottle I’d bought her mother. I actually do remember buying it, by the brand “Philosophy” (I always loved the audacity of perfume companies to assume their chemical scents had the power of Sartre, but it seems to sell bottles so . . . ). The perfume had the name “Falling in Love,” which I admit, her mother loved.
Andrea enjoyed being in love. She also enjoyed being married. There were certainly days I wasn’t sure our marriage would make it, but then she’d have those moments where she’d find a perfume with a silly name and get all soft and loving again. She’d remember how we met, why we married, what brought us here, and she’d become the woman I met again.
Hannah found this throwback and came into the living room.
“Abbi saved one of Mom’s perfumes, did you know that?”
“She did?” I wasn’t certain her sister would either save the perfume or even use it. Not the same scent preferences and certainly not the same chemical makeup to their bodies.
“Yeah…I remember it. It says “Falling in Love” on the bottle. I smelled it and it smelled like Mom.”
I knew what was coming, Hannah hadn’t had any of those sensual reminders like I had in the early days without Andrea.
“I miss her, Dad!”
Hannah sat on the couch and cried. Sometimes, that’s what you really need to do. I hugged her, comforted her, and listened to her quiet tears on my shoulder. Hannah’s an empathetic, loving, and very emotional girl. She’s a brilliant guitarist for her age and she is a huge help to me and her twin brothers. But even today, more than two years after losing her mother, it hurts when you’re slapped in the face with the reminder. Particularly when you’re not surrounded by people who wear the same perfumes or say the same things.
Sometimes, though, you just need some comfort on the couch. It’s not often I realize how I just need to listen. I can’t fix the broken heart my daughter has from losing her Mom. But perhaps I can staunch the bleeding, just a little, when I realize that this is what her Mom would do.
That . . . and tickling her at just the right point so she laughs. I am her Dad, after all.