There Blows No Wind…
The line is from a Persian poem, written many years before Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet but dealing with the same themes of forbidden love and loss.
While the theme here isn’t forbidden love, there’s a good deal of loss, even four years on.
The poem, depending on the translation, goes like this:
I am yours
However distant you may be
There blows no wind but wafts your scent to me
There sings no bird but calls your name to me
Each memory that has left its trace with me
Lingers forever as a part of me
I’m a writer, sure, but poetry hasn’t been my forte. (I know, musician but no poetry…don’t start with me)
The strangest things trigger memories. They sit, strong, vivid, painfully obvious when loss first comes. I don’t care if that’s your wife, father, mother, brother, sister, daughter, son…you get the picture. The littlest things are memories. You are surrounded by the person you lost because your surroundings are their surroundings, at least they were.
Years on the strength of the memories isn’t as great. Still, they can come, and at this stage in the game they can come at the most random times from the most random of reasons.
In television and magazine terms, today, they call it a “trigger warning” when the publisher or broadcaster thinks people might have a severe emotional reaction to something they’re about to publish. That is well and good when you know it’s going to trigger something.
But how do you prepare for a smell?
The last couple weeks someone in my building at work has either a perfume or a lotion that – I think – must be exactly the same as one my late wife, Andrea, wore.
It’s subtle, by the way. Some people bathe in perfume or lotion and you can smell them coming from miles away. This isn’t that at all, in fact it’s light and just a wisp, carried in the air for the smallest of lingerings. It may pass by most people with no thought whatsoever.
I hadn’t noticed what it was in the first couple exposures, if I’m being honest. What I realized was that I was a bit melancholy, nostalgic, thinking of my late wife more than I normally did most days. I couldn’t put my finger on why.
This afternoon, though, I was through a hallway and the scent was stronger, making me realize why I felt this way. It was like hitting a wall . . . not a wall of smell but like the hallway disappeared and I was standing in a kitchen that barely afforded room for one person to move and she would move behind me so we’d be stuck, between sink and refrigerator and Andrea would have to put her arms around me, hugging, to skirt by. It was the Thanksgiving where so many people came to our small home that we couldn’t actually get around the table…we had to go outside, into the back yard, and through the back door to get to the kitchen.
It was whimsy and youth and farcical and it was as if those days weren’t really as far away as I had placed them in my memory. As I passed through the hallway and back to my desk the smell lingered. I can’t be sure if it was really there or if it had dissipated while my brain still processed the millions of nodes that danced in the delight of the smell.
The funny thing is, the smell was a delight. I ached to stay in that moment, the memories rushing through like rewinding an old videotape. It’s confusing too, though, because I miss her but I wouldn’t go back, either. It’s a series of great memories and the smell becomes tactile. I feel her hand on the back of my head and the hairs on my neck stand on end. I want it and fight it at the same time. Eventually I take a deep breath . . . and it’s gone.
It could very well belong to some twenty-something intern, which would be odd for me, considering I have a twenty-year-old daughter now. Part of me thinks it would be best not to know who wears it, I couldn’t look her in the eye. I miss my wife, but I don’t want to go back there, either. The upside here is it doesn’t take me to the end. Today, nearly four years later, I relish the good memories and the mere fact of its existence doesn’t make me realize how she’s gone. She’s been gone for awhile now.
In the end, it’s a scent, but it’s a memory…a good memory.
It lingers forever as a part of me.