Friday, September 7, 2012

sage, parsley, grief

I am bent over a cookbook, ticking off ingredients in my mind and thinking about the task before me. It's a blazing hot summer day. I have written down a new roast chicken recipe on my meal calendar and I am determined to attempt it despite the early September heat. I begin making the spice rub: I measure rosemary and thyme, then reach for sage. The bottle has never been opened before. I don't often cook with sage. I tear off the seal and begin measuring the small amount I need. 

I pause.

Smell the herb. Pull back. Smell it again. And I'm gone. Flying through time to the same kitchen in a different year during a different season. There isn't a little boy playing on the floor as I cook. It's raining outside. I am weak and tired. My eyes are swollen and sore. The microwave is in a different place, next to the sink, and resting on top of it is a bottle of sage tincture. I twist the cap, pull out the dropper - which makes a slight ting against the glass, and watch as the sage darkens the water I drop it into.

My daughter died three days ago. My breasts are bound. They ache with the need to feed a newborn. I am sore from birth and suppression. Suppressed milk, suppressed sorrow, suppressed grief. I replace the dropper. Take the tincture. Shuffle back to the couch where I will spend countless hours in the weeks to come.

B bangs an oatmeal container against a cupboard. I inhale deeply, as if I am coming to from a long daydream, and continue preparing dinner. I put the chicken in to roast, take a break and then prepare the sauce. I pull parsley from the produce drawer. Wash it off. Give some to B who toddles around proudly with it clenched in his fat baby hands.

I slice the bunch lengthwise. And I'm gone. Flying through time to the same kitchen in a different year during a different season. I expect to see my midwife bending to place the parsley she bought so we could make restorative smoothies in our old fridge. I wait to hear her soft laugh and feel her gentle hand on my shoulder. I wait expectantly for her calm voice to filter through the dense layers of grief. But when I turn around seeking comfort there is only a little boy contentedly dropping a measuring spoon through the small slot at the top of the stepping stool in the corner of the kitchen, crushed parsley at his feet, forgotten.

This dinner is a memory minefield. I feel my heart breaking all over again as I work the sage and parsley in my hands. It amazes me how a scent can throw me back to a specific time and thoroughly entrench me there. Just as the sight of a red and white helicopter with a large cross painted on the bottom winging across the sky can bring me to my knees with prayer and remembered sorrow, the scents of parsley and sage bring spring, May and the ripped raw feeling of early grief roaring forth from the dark corners of my mind.

As I finished writing this post the song 'Ronan' by Taylor Swift began popping up in my Twitter and Facebook feed. This song ... it says it all ...

I remember the drive home when the blind hope
Turned to crying and screaming, "Why?"
Flowers piled up in the worst way
No one knows what to say about a beautiful boy girl who died.

I miss her so much.


  1. This was hauntingly beautiful. I think back to my life this exact time four years ago, and it is amazing to me that I made it here. There are certain smells that will transport me back in an instant.

  2. Brought tears to my eyes. Certain smells door for mre too, and the sound of rain. The day I found out Jacob had died and the day hens born, it was beautiful out. But overnight there was a huge thunderstorm. I lay in the hospital bed listening to it and thinking how appropriate it was. Now rain brings me to that night and the feelings come back. It's raining right now actually.

  3. That was so well written. I totally understand how you feel. For me, it is the smell of hospital soap. It still reminds me of being in the hospital when Adelyn died, even if I was there in that same hospital with Coen a year later. The soap still reminds me of her.

    Thank you for sharing that song too. It is beautiful. I played it, and looked over and Coen was sitting on the floor, swaying/dancing with a big smile on his face. It had me overcome with emotion....God I love him so much, but I miss her so much too.

  4. Such a beautiful post momma.

    And yes, this song? It's perfect, isn't it? The part about the clothes in the closet he'll never grow into... Feels like a slap across the face.

  5. Beautiful writing from your heart. It will be therapy for you, to share from your deep brokenness. Grief is like that, little moments and snippets of sound or memory or smell or song and you are there in then time, not now time.
    Moving back and forth till it no longer hurts as much.
    You will always miss her and always hurt for her to be in your arms... it is being real.

  6. That was beautifully written. And in a swoop, I think you have also explained o me why my girls are obsessed with that singer. I never listen yo her, but they do, all the time.

  7. After all these years, it still hurts. Did you hear this song? It made me cry -a lot- but it helped...
    Love and hugs, Mary-Ann

  8. This post is beautifully written and speaks my sentiments. For me it is not smells, but certain sights and sounds. Whenever I see a hospital bag, I remember that innocent moment before I found out the "news." Whenever I hear footsteps shuffling or hushed whispers, I remember those tough days/weeks after.... NO matter how many years and how far we go, those triggers are always there. HUGS and prayers to you. We miss Charlotte along with you.


thank you!


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