Her hands are small, delicate, matching her petite frame. Her fingers slip effortlessly into the scissors she uses to cut and style women’s hair. Her hands transform lackluster tresses into sultry manes worthy of a night out. But tonight she has her own plans. A dance, perhaps? A visit with friends? A special dinner? The doors of her standing wardrobe are open – discarded dresses flung on her bed, forming a makeshift blanket of bright colors.
I’m temporarily distracted by the sound of my father tap-tap-tapping his razor against the side of the sink as he shaves in the bathroom. I look over to see him contorting his face in the mirror. I get a faint whiff of his shaving cream.
I turn back toward my parents’ bedroom. My mother has finally decided on her outfit and is now facing the mirror. She brushes her hair and tilts her head side to side while she sprays to get some volume. Tonight her hair is reddish auburn. She likes to experiment with her hair color – it has been every shade from blonde to dark brown. She dabs a bit of concealer under her eyes, sweeps on dark grey eye shadow, and glides on reddish lipstick.
She is stunning.
And then, she reaches for the box. It’s a velvet purple rectangle, reserved for only the fanciest of events. I watch as she lifts open the lid and gently removes the glass bottle nestled inside. It fits perfectly in her hands, and she treats it like a treasured jewel. A semi-circle filled with a deep orange liquid, plugged by a blue scalloped top.
She pulls off the top and puts her fingertip against the opening, tilting the bottle over to get just a drop onto her skin, and then transfers the fragrance behind her ears, and just a bit on her neck. The perfect finishing touch to her preparations. And then they’re off – out the door.
Her scent lingers.
Mother’s Day, to me, is just another day. It’s not a day when I miss my mother MORE than any other day.
But sometimes, when I happen to smell that aroma on a passerby, she’s suddenly here – only she’s not. And the emptiness I’ve tried so hard to fill is gaping again. The tears I try so hard to fight well up again. My heart I’ve tried so hard to heal rips open. Again.
Shalimar makes her real. Shalimar makes her tangible. Shalimar makes her present.
19 years later, her scent still lingers.
OK, I'm getting off my shoebox now.