Sometimes we want to write about people we have lost who were close to us.
Author Jonas Hassen Khemiri says in a recent interview with The New Yorker: "What kind of memories do we cling on to? ... Whenever I have lost someone, my first impulse has been to try to collect all my memories of that person and write them down. Almost as if in a naïve attempt to render them immortal."
Khemiri's words make me think of the need we have to remember that person in our words, the feverish impulse we experience to write everything down, to capture the person and keep them alive in our memories.
I have been working on a book about my Mom who passed away in 2010. I have to say that the words have not come in an impulsive rush. They have been slow to arrive, and it is not easy writing, but it is something I need to do.
The last thing I bought Mom before she passed away was a bottle of L'air de Temps fragrance. It was a strange request from her, as she'd always been a Chanel No. 5 kind of gal. I sometimes think it was the fancy bottle that had attracted her in the past as I know she had worn this fragrance from time to time.
My mother had always stressed the importance of perfume. "I'd spend my last dime on a bottle of good perfume," she'd say, "so that I could at least smell expensive."
We were clearing her room at the hospital after she had passed away and I saw the L'air du Temps on the table. I took it home with me and I still have it. The perfume is rather stale now, but it does still have that delightful, flowery lightness that uplifted my Mom and made her feel good. Whenever I take off the top and smell it, I think of her.
There are so many ways we can remember people in our writing - we can describe them, how they looked, what they said and believed; or, like magpies, we can collect things, objects that when seen, can evoke memories of the person to whom they belonged.