Synthetic Garden

I've never been able to smell very well. Only one of my nostrils really works as it should, so smell has never been a strong point of memory for me. But the earliest memory of smell I can conjure up is my childhood house after my sister's death. For some reason people believe sending flowers helps mend the broken emptiness you feel inside when your loved one dies. My folks received arrangements of all kinds. There were pink and yellow-filled vases from strangers and those were bitter and pungent, the kind that made your nose crinkle if annoyance. Close friends sent large arrangements with exotic mixes of bitter and sweet, almost sour, that caused an instant headache because your brain didn't really know how to process what the nose was sending it. 

The relatives went all our with their flower gifts and some even sent plants, as if my mom is going to remember to water a plant when she is planning a funeral. Those arrangements and plants were intense. They attacked your nose almost like formaldehyde does. Those scents tingled and tingled until they made you cry. By the end of all the gift giving our house smelled like an old hospital room that was cleaned meticulously in order to smell new again. But it didn't smell new, it all smelled extremely stale. 

I couldn't stand the headaches and the bitterness and the tingling any longer. So, I spent every day outside where the arrangements of flowers and the green grass and the plants all meant freshness and healing. Unlike the synthetic "I'm sorry for you loss" garden that grew inside.