Soapsuds and Wormholes
Trap doors that spring open and hurl you full on into the pain of loss are hidden cleverly; camouflaged so subtlety that you don’t recognize the danger until it’s too late to take evasive action. Protect yourself, head down, Brace, Brace, Brace, here it comes – again.
I couldn’t find my usual laundry detergent at the store last week. What to do? I am a creature of habit, reluctant to switch brands, but overflowing laundry bins prompted a change so I bought another product. Easy, Right? No problem, until I did a load of clothes today.
The new soap’s scent hung in the damp air and permeated the laundry. And it was the exact smell and steamy feel as my sister, Kena’s, cellar laundry room in Zurich. Dead now for 9 years, but that smell sucked me into a wormhole back to a past when we were both young mothers with mountains of laundry to wash together. A time when we cooked gallons of macaroni and cheese, and PB & Jelly (cut only on the diagonal), and pancakes with faces – a busy time. We worked hard and had much fun in the process. The clean soapy smell triggered such a strong memory that I could almost feel the texture and gesture of folding warm towels together in your home with kids underfoot. Nine years ago Kena, before you were whittled away into nothingness by savage gastric cancer; dead at 51; back when there were 4 cousins at play together.
Though bittersweet, I cherish this olfactory memory link to my dear sister Jackie. I would love to conjure Morgan in such a meaningful visceral way also. Too bad that Morgan, stolen from us at 20 years old, was too young to have done so many of life’s tasks , like choosing a brand of laundry soap.