Blog post

Body Memory

I had an interesting encounter today while doing grocery shopping that triggered this write up, and I know that many people can relate to it. I was bagging my groceries when the young man at the checkout counter asked in Dutch “sorry, may I ask which perfume you’re wearing?” I thought I didn’t hear him correctly because I was literally on my way home from a very sweaty day at the gym, so I said “you can smell it???” He said “yes, please which perfume is it? It reminds me of my mother”. I asked if his mother is still alive (she could reside in a different country) but he answered that she is no longer alive, and that the smell reminded him so much of her. I looked in his eyes and they looked so sad, almost teary. I told him the name of the perfume and he asked if I would please write it down. So, I took his pen and wrote down the name of my perfume for him. As we walked away, that encounter reminded me of my experience in Amsterdam a few years ago.

My father had been dead for over ten years at the time, yet, as I walked down the busy Kalverstraat shopping street, I smelt my dad’s deodorant. My instant reaction was to turn around and I could feel my mouth forming the word “daddy”, then I stopped, shook my head, and reminded myself that my father had been dead for over a decade. I still remember him with so much warmth and love, and get teary-eyed sometimes.

The body has a memory. Smells and tastes often trigger those memories in ways that our minds are still trying to catch up to. If your parents and/or siblings are still alive- be they biological or adopted, your birth or chosen family- let them know how much you love them and how much they mean to you. They won’t always be around, you won’t always be around. Share the love and be a bearer of love, so that when somebody remembers you one day after you’re gone, the memories will be of love and warmth.

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