The Last Box

I just sorted through the last of my mother’s things. It’s been over a year, but there were a few boxes I hadn’t gotten to. Part of the reason for the delay was, of course, that I knew it would be sad. And it was. And part of me just wanted to not let the discovery end.

See, every new box I opened, every cluster of her trinkets and every paper pile had little surprises in it, things my mom held dear. A small stuffed bear my husband and I had given her. Poems she wrote as a teenager. Poems she wrote to lovers. Doilies from the Grand Place. A blanket her mother knitted. Kitchen towels that said “Home” that I bought to welcome her to her condo in High Point . . .

And I didn’t want to run out of these gifts.

A box of clothes she left in the condo was the last thing I opened. A few of them I remembered her wearing. We had very different tastes. But there was a dark sweater with big tan buttons and a faux fur lining that I decided to try on because it looked soft and cozy. It was not something I would pick out. But, somehow, it looked right.

In movies people who have lost someone close are often seen picking up their loved one’s clothing and sniffing it. There’s a reason for this. Scent brings associations that other senses do not. I smelled lavender. My mother was always putting little aromatic sachets of it with her clothes. It’s an alternative to cedar. And it was her mother’s favorite scent.

I’m not a big fan of the lavender scent, but it is familiar. And there is something soft and cozy about that. So I’m not going to wash that sweater just yet.