I sprayed after shave cologne on my wrists today, it was an old bottle with maybe an inch of liquid left inside it. I found it at my mother’s home, in an abandoned bathroom drawer, where she had hidden it after my father died. They were three odd-shaped bottles left, pushed back in a drawer like teenagers hiding beer or vodka. I took those almost empty bottles home with me and today I used one. The smell was so powerful and so familiar that tears immediately welled up in my eyes. I longed to see my father wearing his soft plain purple and blue striped shirt and feel his arms hugging me. I willed it to happen, almost believing it and then reality took over and left me alone with a sharp pain in my heart. I miss the one person in our family who knew me best with just a faint wink of an eye or a hint of a smile. I felt lost; I felt alone.
My dad died ten years ago and I don’t feel this way all the time but the pain goes away completely. I can feel fine for weeks or months and then some memory, a scent, the sight of his old shirt crumpled up in my closet will remind me harshly of my loss. When one is young no one tells you about all the pain you have ahead of you. When you are young you think you want to be grown-up and mature but you have no idea what that really feels like. There are times when it never feels good, not even for half of a single second of any one day.
I went grocery shopping today and met a friend whose son just graduated with my son. We talked about how their graduation from High School was hitting us both hard and in unexpected times and places. She said that once in a while she has to pull off on the side of the road to just cry and then, as if nothing happened, she puts her turn signal back on and continue her journey. I have been on that road too. While I was in the grocery store I passed water guns and felt that same feeling of loss, I wanted to cry but I wouldn’t let myself. I thought about my son and his friends and the water gun fights, one tiny water gun pistol still sitting in the back of our old, big family car, moving from one side of the car to the other.
I came home and marched up the stairs to get to my room, as fast as I could hobble, to reach for my computer and for a bunch of tissues from a yellow box. The color yellow comforts me; it makes me feel happier. I thought about my son, who is a Counselor, away at camp. He left a week ago; I feel bereft. I don’t want to call him, though eventually I will. I’d rather wait to hear his voice on the phone, starting off with the same low-key “Hey.”I am being widely immature and over emotional, part of me knows that. He is not making the transition from home to camp to college easy for me. I wonder, if at college, will he forget about us as much? When he is at camp, his second home, we really do not exist and while I am proud of my independent son, today I feel sad and lonely. Here I am, at home, opening up the window of his musty room, surrounded by half eaten boxes of cookies. Pain, like accumulated laundry that sits in the middle of his blue carpet, taunts me.