"Mom," Jacob said, pulling me out of the kitchen. "You should come outside with me. It's raining."
I left the pasta water that hadn't quite boiled yet and went outside. We stood on the driveway under the overhang and watched the rain fall.
"This is my favorite smell," I told him. "Rain falling on hot cement."
"I know," he said. "That's why I had you come outside. Do you wish someone would make a candle that smelled that way?"
I thought for a moment; put my face into the breeze and breathed deeply. "I don't think you can candle this smell. Because it's not only the smell. It's the coolness of the air and the wind on your face and the dampness and the sight of the clouds."
Then we just stood, watching the rain fall and sniffing, and I it was one of those moments that you hope with everything you have your son will remember one day when you're gone. I hope he'll remember always that I love the scent of rain and wet cement, and that the smell will evoke me for him, whenever he finds himself in a rain storm, and that way I can always stay near him.
That conversation, that standing in the rain with Jacob and feeling time bend, just a little, also made me think of my dad. Because I don't know what my dad's favorite smell was. Maybe it was the way a hiking trail smells when it winds through tight clumpings of pine trees, so that everything around you is sweet woody savor. Or the scent of Lake Powell, which is cottonwood trees and sunscreen and sandstone emanating heat. Perhaps the smell of the high desert where he went to hunt arrowheads. Or something I can't guess at.
I don't know because he never stood with me in the presence of his favorite scent and told me why he loved it.
I don't know because I never thought to ask.
Now it's too late to ask. Now especially, when he is caught where he is—not dead, but certainly not experiencing life. Trapped. I can't help it: I long for him to be freed from the captivity of his body. I long for his soul to stride out. And to some day, when I find myself standing in the presence of his favorite smell, come back to me, on a breeze or a trickle of water, to evoke himself for me.