An Elephant, A Smile

About a month ago I bought a Charmed Aroma candle. I’d wanted one for a while for the simple reason most people bought them: they had a piece of jewelry inside of it. Rings were most common but you could get bracelets, earrings, necklaces, sometimes a couple of pieces of jewelry in one candle. You just had to burn the candle and wait for the small folded tin foil package hidden somewhere in the wax to appear and voila, you’ve got candle jewelry. I never spent much time looking at the different varieties they had because (at the time) there were no stores near me. Finally my sister and I found one and we each bought ourselves a candle.

There were obviously a lot of candles, and while I found a candle that I knew I would like (strawberries and cream with a little bow ring) I kept going back to a candle called Wild & Free which on the website is described as smelling like “pink grapefruit, warm amber, ivy rose and sandalwood” and came with a small elephant themed ring. I knew that the smell of the candle wasn’t really my kind of thing, but I kept going back to it and eventually bought it for the very simple reason that it came with an elephant ring.

Okay, it’s more than that. Yes it came with an elephant ring, but one of my mom’s favourite animals were elephants, so I got the candle because it and the ring reminded me of her.

So I burned the candle and I got my ring, a simple little elephant with some shiny sort of crystal in its body and following halfway around the band. I didn’t know which one I would get, there were about ten elephant themed rings so it was guaranteed to be an elephant in some way. I was a little disappointed not to get the one that had a mother and baby in the centre, the mother and baby’s trunks reaching out and touching each other’s, but really any elephant will do. Since getting the ring I’ve worn it every day, another little way I think of my mom.

It’s weird, these little things that still make me think of her. How something as simple as an elephant can have such an effect on me, can change my candle purchases, can give me comfort.

Last week I went to a club with some friends. As the night wore on we found ourselves upstairs and dancing where it was relatively empty except for the people going to and from the bathrooms.

Two girls joined our dance group and one of them started talking to me. “I’m sorry I’m staring, you just look so much like my cousin.”

“That’s okay, I get that a lot,” which is true for the record. I like to say I have a familiar face, that I’m a clone, maybe even a ghost now. People have come up to me at work, in grocery stores, on the street, and now in clubs saying I look like a friend’s young sister, an old student, an actress’s daughter when I have been none of these things to those people.

Then she said, “She died, two years ago. It was suicide.” And then just as quickly, “I’m sorry that’s weird, I made things weird I didn’t mean it.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, because what else can you say?

“It’s your smile,” she was smiling then, and though she was smiling she looked like she might cry. “You smile the exact same.”

“Here I’ll show you,” and she pulled up her cousin’s Instagram and showed me a picture of her, smiling. But how can you find yourself in a stranger? How do you find parts of yourself in a two year old picture of someone who is no longer here, that you have no connection to, but who a stranger found some familiarity, some recognition, some comfort in?

“See,” she showed me, she showed her friend who nodded and I did the same. She put her phone away and looked at me again, “I’m sorry this is weird, it just makes me happy, to see that smile.”

“It’s okay, and it’s not weird,” I said. “I’m just happy it made you happy.”

She nodded and asked, “Can I have a hug?”

So we hugged a few times and for the last time when we said goodbye outside of the club at four in the morning knowing we wouldn’t see each other again, and I wondered how much she’d remember.

It isn’t every night that someone says you remind them of a dead relative, but I find it so interesting how the little things we do can trigger a memory, a thought, a feeling for someone else. All these ways we affect one another, plants ourselves in others minds, unintentionally mimic a stranger can mean so much to someone. How something as simple as an elephant and a smile can mean so much.

 

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