This I Believe
When I was thirteen, my sisters, Lisa and Anna, cooked up a unique test for me with their offbeat sense of humor. The testing ground was our local Bath and Body Works. Unaware at first of what was happening, I laughed and played along when they told me to close my eyes and trust them. They waved bottle after bottle of body wash under my nose, followed by a mountain of candles and soaps and bubble bath. I named every single scent—jasmine, sweet pea, apple, vanilla, even rosemary. As each smell wafted by, it left a trail of memories and emotions in its wake. I believe that every memory, every loving word, and every wonderful moment that you never want to forget has its own aroma.
Just last winter, I became extremely ill and spent the entire month of December in a downtown Chicago hospital, virtually isolated from my friends and my family. I missed them terribly, and longed for my own bed and the familiar perfume of Christmas trees and gingerbread cooling on the counter. The only smells that resided in that hospital were those of antiseptic and other, far less pleasant, odors. Knowing how negatively this affected me, my sisters and my closest friends came up with a brilliant solution. One night, they bought me a jumbo-sized bottle of evergreen air freshener. My dad, normally so reserved and precise in his actions, raced around my room in a dizzying whirlwind of flailing limbs, leaving the scent of our crooked Christmas tree behind him. It was the hardest I had laughed in a very long time. In the days that followed, I remember my joy when I opened lovingly wrapped packages containing a soothing lavender spray from my Aunt Christine, raspberry lotion from my grandmother, and a pumpkin pie candle from my cousin Alex. My favorite was a ridiculously enormous care package full of honey-scented hair product from my best friend Colleen. I almost felt like Winnie the Pooh.
I cannot remember what was written in the cards or said in the phone calls that came with them, but those fragrances are forever in my mind. I am still recovering from that hospital stay, but all I need is a whiff of raspberry or honey, and a sense of calm comes over me. I am instantly reminded of all the people who love me unconditionally. That feeling is so comforting, so powerful, that I wish I could capture it in a tiny diamond bottle, and never let it go.
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