Tuesday, October 26, 2010

31 for 21: #26 Soap

I can smell a hospital. I can. I can smell if you've been in one recently. I used to think it was the latex or the adhesives. It's not. It the soap.

When I smell hospital soap... I smell when Elise was born. I smell when she was in Cardiac Failure. I smell racing to and from the hospital and work at lunch break. I smell when she had Open Heart surgery. I smell when she was in the CICU. I smell seeing her have pink cheeks for the first time. I smell when she was admitted for the pre-cancerous low platelet condition, Thrombocytopenia. I smell ALLLL the bone marrow aspirations and blood draws. I smell the CAT scan just before we were told that the leukemia had finally presented. I smell the discussion with the oncologist about the chemo protocol. I smell all the chemo treatments. I smell learning to change her external port dressings. I smell nurses taking readings at 3 AM. I smell sleeping in a giant crib. I smell watching her take her first cruising steps in the hospital family room around that tan couch in her brand new tiny orthodic inserts. I smell posting her status on the computer while talking to other mothers on the treatment floor. I smell talking to a teenage boy who told me he couldn't sleep because he didn't feel like he had enough time. I smell asking a nurse where he was because I hadn't seen him...and hearing that he had been right...that he was gone... I smell talking to friends and learning that the chemo was no longer going to "buy" them any more time with their precious baby... I smell tears. I smell fear. I smell knowing that I didn't "deserve" extra time with my baby... I smell wondering why God had chosen my child to survive over another child. I smell hurting with others. I smell the port tubes being removed after she bit it beyond repair. I smell the balloon celebrating the end of chemo. I smell the panic when the doctors told us we didn't need to come for blood count checks every month. I smell the tonsil and adenoid-ectomies. I smell the ear tube placement surgery. I smell her teeth being handed to me in a plastic jar. I smell the sleep study. I smell worry. I smell holding my child down so she didn't have to have a stranger holding her down for procedures. I smell emergency room waiting rooms. I smell melancholy...wondering why we would be there next... I smell grace and others' loss... I smell exhaustion and loneliness. I smell thankfulness and compassion.

I feel old when I smell hospital soap. Like I've lived longer than the years the math says it's been...

When I smell hospital soap, I smell too much...


  1. Thanks for sharing, Tiffany. I can only imagine what feelings surface for you when you smell, touch, see, hear hospital stimuli. I've always maintained that smells are definitely memories. I remember lots of events by the smell. This posting will probably touch lots of folks who have been through similar circumstances. Becky just could not enter a hospital for such a long time after Amanda's death for the reasons you mentioned and beyond. I love your summation--so true, but God has brought you through with such strength and grace. The fact that you recognize and remember all these emotions, is a reflection of His gifts of insight and compassion in you.

  2. What a lifetime of worry in such a short window! I'm so sorry Elise, and you, have seen so much pain.

  3. Following you back now, have a great day!


  4. I'm so sorry, Tiffany. A mama's heart wishes there could be a magic wand to call forth all that is sweet and fragrant in your memories and hopes for the future. The only words that come to mind are these, and I pray them for you this night: 2 Cor 2:14: "But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads in every place the FRAGRANCE that comes from knowing him. 15For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16to the one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?" Your words and refections, Tiffany, are just that to so many: a sweet fragrance of hope and encouragement, pointing fellow life travelers to God. Elise is blessed to call you "Mama". . . and we are blessed to love you and to pray with and for you! But . . I still wish I could wave a wand and make it all go away! One day GOD WILL do that when He makes "all things new" - 'til then, I pray HIS strength for you - and YES, His hand on our Elise - that SHE will grow to bless the world for His kingdom - even as YOU are now!

  5. I envy people who only have happy smell memories. I wish that the tie between smell and memory could be broken. I wish that hospital soap could mean new babies and healing.