Do you ever catch a whiff of something and it smells so familiar? But, you can’t place the scent? You try hard and can’t remember. You imagine it must be something from childhood.
When I smell pound cake, I get a flashback to the Sarah Lee pound cake that my dad bought us — with chocolate chips. So tasty. So sad that they don’t make that version anymore. My dad loved treats and I like remembering this about him.
Some memory triggers are painful. When my best friend died, I went to buy a bouquet for her wake. I clearly recall the strong, sweet aroma of flowers as I walked into the shop. Normally a pleasant aroma, this day the flowers had a sickeningly, strong odor. For the next several years, I couldn’t walk into a floral shop without thinking about that sad moment. Burned in my memory.
Other memories are attached to sounds.
Hospital room medical machines regularly sound off with an annoying beep. When my daughter Leah had in-hospital chemotherapy stays, I wanted to rip these annoying machines out of the wall. They always interrupted us right when my girl fell asleep.
Today, I can be in an office building and hear a loud, repetitive beep or chirp. These sounds bring me right back to her hospital room. I start recalling the hard things about being there — the look of the bathroom, sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress, trying to help her move and eat, etc.
I’m thinking about this topic today because last night I was clearing out papers. I found a Book of Poems my daughter wrote when she was in second or third grade. Wow, seeing her writing and words sure brought back feelings and memories. Some joyful. Some sad.
I’m so grateful that I have my memories of her. Even years later, there are items of hers around the house that I still haven’t found. Or, the situations that I’m in when I feel as though the sights or sound are connected to her. One place that creates lots of memory triggers is an Ulta Beauty store. As a teenager, Leah loved walking through Ulta stores and selecting fun, girly items.
We all have these memories. Each of our stories is filled with joy, happiness, sadness and sorrow. No one knows when these triggers will hit. When they do, we can be in very awkward, public situations.
What can we do about the timing of our memory triggers? Not much.
We do the best we can in the moment.
Let’s be patient. You never know when the person next to you is having an emotional trigger. It may be either happening to the man in the car behind you, a child in the library or a woman standing next to you in the Ulta store line.
Let’s just be kind.
What memory triggers do you have of someone special to you?