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.


3 Responses to “Gil Harrington’s Thoughts on September 5, 2013”

  1. Abigail says:

    Gil, I call them “trigger moments”, and sometimes they do catch us by surprise and sometimes we will do “okay” with them, as I am sure you know. I think about Morgan and your family often, and check back to read your wise words and thoughts. Grieving never stops…one can only hope it becomes more bareable. This person will be found and some sort of justice will be met for your baby girl. Take care.

  2. Biene says:

    Dear Harrington family, I wish you strength and love.

  3. Nikki Wiggins says:

    I just wanted to drop you a note to let you know that I think of your family often. I am an avid Hokie football fanatic and a mother and I can’t watch a Hokie game without thinking of your loss and how hard it must be. I continue to pray for you and hope with all my strength that the person responsible will be found and justice will be served. I think about the word justice and as a mother myself I don’t know how much “justice” will help to comfort Morgan’s family; but it is something. I just found your blog and will stop by from time to time. You write beautifully and I find myself thinking in ways I never have before after reading your thoughts. God Bless you and your family.

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