I expected it to be hard to enter her neighborhood, so the lump in my throat was expected. I expected it to be hard to turn onto her street, so the butterflies in my stomach were no surprise. I expected seeing her house and her side yard to be hard, so the tears flowed as I presumed they would. I stepped up those familiar stairs, rang that familiar door bell and smiled at the familiar face of her sister greeting me.
But I didn’t expect her aroma to greet me.
You know what I mean…the aroma that each of us have that is especially strong in our own home. Each of us has it. The smell of that sweet, gray-haired precious soul at church who hugs like no ones business. The smell of your husbands aftershave. The one and only aroma of your mom’s house.
It was her aroma that greeted me one last time and made me miss her again.
I was told I could have anything that I wanted of hers. I tried to remember what was the greatest reminders in that house of her. For me, it was two things. It was a picture she had painted that was gone now and a mug that she always used. She even brought it on retreats so that she could use it. As we emptied the kitchen of all her items, I looked for that mug but it was nowhere to be found. Saddened, I gave up on having a “piece” of her.
As we emptied the kitchen of all the packed boxes, we took one last look through all the cupboards. Then we remembered the dishwasher. There in the dishwasher were clean dishes that no one paid attention to for two weeks now. And there was her mug. We both smiled and I held it knowing this was her last cup of coffee cup.
We emptied the house of all that was hers. Now it will be sold. The only reminder of her now is the paint she chose to decorate her house. The house is only a shell of what was her, because the life that made that house a home is gone.
I put the last load into my car and made one more trip through her front door to smell her aroma. It was bittersweet. I said good-bye to the house that held so many precious memories of our friendship and our families. I looked back one last time as I drove away, knowing she was happy where she was, free of hurt and burden.