I’ve been feeling a little heavy this week, heavy and tired. I didn’t really notice it at first, but by Tuesday afternoon I recognised a familiar restlessness surface as I paused in between things. I acknowledged it, watched it and eventually made sense of it – this was a state of melancholy:

We spent last Sunday at my Gran’s old flat, sorting through her belongings, and returned home tired, with a selection of things that are neither valuable nor particularly sentimental, but useful: carefully handwashed woollens, pristinely clean ceramic dishes, a pepper mill, pieces of fabric, hats for the dressing up box… Out of context it’s a strange assortment – some things I’d never encountered when she was alive, others very familiar, but none of them able to compensate for our loss.

I’ve been glad of one particularly warm jumper – it’s been cold this week. But I keep catching myself sniffing at my sleeve. It’s her scent, you see – I’ve been carrying it around on me, catching it on my daughters at unexpected moments, finding myself momentarily stunned by it as I enter a room. Its familiarity is reassuring, disconcerting, then sad in turns. It is a strange olfactory illusion – Pond’s, pressed powder and Persil, the faintest hint of roast beef – the distillation of years – a displaced, anachronistic perfume. On Sunday we left it still hanging there in her flat, delicately, suspending time – a ghosting in the still air, but we took some away with us for good measure.

Grief, scent, they both creep up on us, come in waves and gently fade.

If I sniff hard enough now the scent is still there, but it’s beginning to be overwritten – the curry I made this morning, woodsmoke from the fire… I reassure myself: It’s all molecules. Our scents, our lives, mingle, and long after Gran’s scent fades, I will carry her molecules with me – always have, always will.

I will leave some of them with my children when I die.

Gran passed away in September.

I have so many things to say about her life and her influence as a mother, wife, homemaker, grandmother, things that will unfold as I register her life touching mine over the weeks and months ahead.



  • Sara

    I empathise…I still use Nivea moisturiser because it’s a remembered scent of my Granny x

  • Funkydoodlesmoodle

    Someone else was feeling ‘heavy’ this week- this included very loud screaming in the garden followed by hiding behind the shed and crying, cold and with plenty of self pity until that badly behaved person got called in for tea. The person was me and i had PMT! Sorry to hear about your gran.

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