I was doing some holiday shopping today. Returning to my truck, I was stopped by a man backing out in a brand new car – still had the sticker in the window. Nostalgically my mind sought out the memory of that “new car smell.” Then I wondered do new cars still have that smell (composed probably of plastic, vinyl and paint giving off volatile fumes)?
I couldn’t tell you. I have mostly lost my sense of smell, yet another minor victim of my extended life, my dear cancer-denying life. My sense of smell was gradually squashed out by a long and complex course of therapy called allogeneic stem cell transplant. Years of steroids and other immune-suppressing drugs.
There was a time in-between in which I experienced phantom smells. Phanosia is the medical terms. It usually happened in the evenings – a strong scent of butter cooking. Other times it was a more acrid, chemical smell. In the beginning I would ask Tish, “Do you smell that!” But the answer was always “no…”
So here it is the Christmas season. And while I will have little opportunity to sit in a brand new car, I do miss the fresh pine smell of the Christmas tree. I do miss the smell of cookies baking in the oven and the yeasty scent of fresh bread. I miss the smell of melted chocolate simmering on the stove. I miss the unmistakable smell of the sea. I miss the faint cold scent of the air after a fresh snow.
But these are small things. Because I will not be missing this Christmas. I once had reason to believe that 2001 would be my last Christmas on this Earth. Miracles do happen. Here I am, ready to be surrounded by my growing family, my two young granddaughters, and, for their first Christmas, my twin granddaughters only a week old. These are the things that matter. Smell is just part of the price I paid.