I Smelled Cole Today


I had no real plans to write today but serendipity has raised its head and grabbed my attention.

If I said (and I am saying it) I miss Cole, some of you who have lost a child would get it much more than those who are so blessed to not be a member of this most horrible of clubs/ organizations. (Hug your kids tonight and be thankful!)

I miss Cole. Sometimes it is almost crippling. Some days I cannot bear to look at his framed picture on my dresser. Some days I can tell stories and talk about him with a smile and even a laugh.

I miss Cole and it might just be the worst feeling in the world.

When Cole was 21 he was given a personalized signed Minnesota Vikings Jersey from the great awesome ironman Brett Farve himself. It was a banner day for a kid who might have been a bigger Brett Farve fan than Brett’s momma.

We buried Cole in that jersey along with his his treasured Viking Ball cap.

But prior to Cole’s death, that kings treasure of a football jersey was pinned to the wall of his bedroom, proudly displayed for all who might see. I had a running joke with Cole about it. I always told him it was toilet paper insurance. If we ever ran out we could just take the jersey off the wall to take care of business. So about once a week I would go into Cole’s room after he was in bed and start pretending to take it off the wall.

He would about have a full fledged spasm attack laughing at me and trying to get his mom into the room to stop me at the same time. That would normally end with me in the bed with him aggravating him some, having tickle time, doing belly bops (that’s another story if you beg hard enough I might just have to share) and watching whatever sport was on TV or whatever football movie was in the DVD player.

We watched a lot of football. His two favorite movies were Remember the Titans and Facing the Giants. He knew them word for word.

I miss Cole. I miss those special fun moments when Cole wasn’t in pain. When he could laugh and giggle and tell me I was crazy.

On Sunday’s he always rode with me to church earlier than the rest of the family would go. It was easier for me to load and unload his scooter or wheelchair. I liked to be there early to take care of last minute preparations. Cole liked to ride with me and be there early to greet people as they came in the door. He could be quite the social butterfly. And truthfully, I don’t know if I could have ever been at a church that loved him more.

I wish we could have gotten some different people involved in his life at home besides Paul Buckman, but hindsight is almost always 20/20 as the old cliche goes. And of course, even if we had done a full background check, fingerprints and all, we still would have had no idea what was coming.

None whatsoever.

That sucks, but that’s what it is. (Sorry, Mom, for using the S word, but it most aptly describes the situation)

I am a big coffee drinker although the docs have me cutting back a good bit. Cole had a stainless steel travel mug he liked to take with him on Sunday’s. Sometimes I would scam him out of it and use it myself. I can hear him now… Daaaadddd, my mug.

For whatever reason, that mug has a funny smell about it. I used to think it was because Cole had such a drooling problem all of his life. He had a hard time controlling his saliva although in the last few years of his life he took a daily pill that helped him considerably.

And today, I was running late to a doctor appointment (where I got a clean bill of health–yeah me!). As I was going out the door, Becki handed me a travel mug full of half-caff for the road.

You have probably already guessed. It was Cole’s old mug.

She unwittingly gave me the greatest gift today.

I drove all the way into town with watery eyes while my senses were full of the smell, sound, and feel of my precious boy.

I smelled Cole today.

God, I miss him so.

46 thoughts on “I Smelled Cole Today

  1. You brought back so many memories. I can see that precious face and that smile, i can still hear him say those famous words ‘ YEA RIGHT’

  2. I hate, loathe and despise being part of the club also……the parent who lost a child. So few friends understand and i am so sorry that you do understand. I too have those random out of the blue moments…..mine is a hoodie Timmy always wore and doused himself with this hideous cologne that reeked….and i hated the smell. I have that hoodie pushed way back in my closet and i pull it out every now and then, and yes when he died i bought four bottles of that hideous cologne and when the smell wears off that hoodie i douse it with the cologne just so i can smell my son again. Im so glad you got to smell Cole today!!!!

    • I know you do, son. I know you do.You were a great big brother and he worshipped the ground you walked on. Never forget that. Never.

  3. Wow! Thanks for this glimpse of Cole…and you. Oh how precious are those memories. The smiles, the silly stuff, the fun watching football, good times. In time they will overshadow those horrific memories that are all too prominent now.

    It is a precious, loving gift to those of us who only know a tiny bit about heart break and grief for you to bare your soul and invite us in. Thank you, you are one of my heroes.

  4. WOW!!! What beautiful memories you will cherish for a lifetime. Healing comes in such mysterious ways…today it was a coffee cup, Cole’s coffee cup. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Les, I can only imagine the the hurt, pain and search for understanding that you are going through. When I lost a brother the year I went into preaching school and my mother the year I graduated from Preaching school, I had many questions myself. I couldn’t understand why they had to die while I was learning how to share the gospel of Christ with them. I almost quit preaching school in my disgust. But, just as you are remembering things in thier lives, I started remembering things, places, songs, smells, etc… that I became truly thankful for. When I start thinking on mom and Mike, before I let Satan have control of my thoughts causing doubt and anger, I start thanking God for the precious time and memories that help me endure these hard times. It has been thirty years since Mike died and thirty five since mom passed with cancer and I have found the memories have been some of the best medicine I have access to.
    Like you have often told others, we may not always agree with each other on all things but we have always agreed that we are brothers in Christ and share that love deeply for one another. I miss you brother and pray for your search peace, understanding and strong faith again.

    Your brother and friend, Charlie

    • Charlie, Charlie, Charlie… Of course I love you even when you are wrong. And you are wrong about all those things we see differently, aren’t you? Lol!

      • Les, Les, Les, I only be wrong in your eyes brother :>}. Love you brother, if you ever need me, all you have to do is let me know.

        • Charlie with all due respect we all grieve and recover in our own unique way. It is OUR road to recovery and how we do it should be accepted.

          • Geraldine, I am sorry that you took the words that I wrote to LES and misunderstood them. Les and I were poking fun at each other over something you have no idea about. If you look at Les’ response ending with LOL and my response back to Les you wiill see that. I do not feel that I offended Les in any way, because if you know Les, he would have told me so. I don’t want to get into a discussion over this especially here in this blog. Sorry for the misunderstanding


  6. Momma always wore Clinique. She is the only one I know that wears it. For several years after her death I could get in Daddy’s car and smell her. Now, if I pass a Clinique counter or pass a stranger wearing the fragrance, I instantly feel Momma. Funny thing is…I never really liked the scent. But it is Momma. And I love her and miss her. And it brings her back for an instance in my mind.

  7. SHEEEEESHHHH!! **sniff** *sniff* I recently cleaned out my mom’s nightstand so my emotions are fresh and raw today. I read with tears in my eyes… makeup is all messed up… but thank you for sharing. Even though I was crying, I smiled thinking of how sweet the two of you were as you painted the picture for me with your words. <3

    • I know Rachie, It still hurts when i think of your dad. I so wish you could have known him as I do. I know two would have love the person of the other. xxoo. unc j.

  8. I saw this story in my news feed, not realizing it was a local story, and even one I had made a donation piece for. I am so sorry for your loss. I had a parent taken from me and I barely made it through….. A child…. I couldn’t imagine. My thoughts are with you.

  9. I hate this club too (lost our first son who I hope to see one day!…at 7 months pregnant)! I remember seeing Cole in church while returning from vacation with this “gentleman” who I thought was so nice to help out w/Cole, giving you and Karen time to “visit” w/your church family! Who would have thought such a tragedy would have resulted from this…so I know your heart melts when you “smell Cole” and remember what a joy he brought into everyone’s life! Our hearts (and prayers) still go out (and up) for you and your entire family!

  10. Also a member of “the club”. We lost our only son on Jan.1, 2011. Smells and sights hit you broadside when least expected. I suppose it never goes away. God bless you, dear brother.

  11. I am sad to say that I am also a member of that exclusive club that no Parent ever wants to join. My only child, a 20 year old Son, went home to Heaven three years ago as the result of an automobile accident.
    Years ago, a dear Sister in Christ lost her grown, 40-something year old, Son and her grief, and the way that it changed her, affected me so profoundly that I started praying daily, asking the Lord to please let my Son outlive me and to please not take my only child. It is a rather odd prayer for a young Mother of a perfectly healthy child but
    I thought I was “safe” and that my prayers were my “insurance” against any cataclysmic tragedy or loss in my life so my worse fear would never be realized.
    My world as I knew it ceased to exist when, early on a December morning, I was greeted by 2 State Troopers who gave me the news that I thought my faithful prayers was supposed to have prevented.
    Where did I go from there? Was I Angry with God? Why didn’t he answer my faithful prayers? I struggle greatly with this, but ironically, the same faith that assured me that my prayers were being heard, and that I was “insured” against what I feared most, is the faith that has given me the strength to put one foot in front of the other and to take another breath and to find hope in the new life that I have been forced to live.
    Thank you, Les, for your transparency in sharing your journey of grief and the hope that you have found in your new life. You are an encouragement to those of us who are Christians and fellow members of “the club”.
    Your Sister In Christ,
    Cheryl in Louisiana

    • Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for reading and commenting! I hope you will continue the journey with us. Let me ask you to do two things? would you please consider sharing the blog with others? I want to help as many people as I can…. And at the top of the blog their is a link to a page called The Journey. Please think about telling your story of loss and how your ave coped, etc.?

      Thank you again for showing up here!

      • Thank you Les. I was led to you by a mutual friend, Ann, who knew your family well. I like to think it is our loved ones in Heaven who have worked behind the scenes to bring grieving parents together. 😉
        One day, about 6 months after my Son’s departure from this physical life, I was outside, where I feel closest to God, talking to him and my Son.
        At that point I had given up on living and wanted to be with my Son.
        I was so despondent and hated this new life! They knew my will to live was at it’s lowest and that I was possibly suicidal. (Yes, Christians can be suicidal!) As the sobs shook my body and I gasped for breath, I heard a message, not audible but internal, saying “Mom, you have to live the life that God has blessed you with and do good”.
        Ok, naysayers, call the guys in white coats and the Elders of the church, but this is my story and my reality.
        God reaches us by whatever means necessary.
        I was so low that I couldn’t pray except to cry out “God help me” and reading my bible was difficult because my mental state prevented me from comprehending the words on the page.
        Yes, God used a message from my precious child to reach me when nothing else could.
        The next part is how I responded and obviously I am still here to tell that story. More later.
        Love and Prayers from your Sister in Christ and fellow club member.

        • I am glad Ann sent you my way. Thanks for sharing your story. I look forward to hearing the rest of it. Would you consider going to the link at the top of my blog called the journey and share your full story? At any rate, I have not had am experience like that. I wish I would. Lots of other family members have had dreams–even my new wife has, but I remain disappointed in that. Please feel free to share as much as you want–and share the blog as well!

      • I have been… every day that I read your blog I share it on facebook… I look forward to reading your blog, not for any other reason than God uses it to speak to me… sometimes I chuckle, nod my head in agreement… a lot of times the tears come… We need more raw truth in our world if we want people hurting on a deep level to know that being a Christian doesn’t mean roses and the “I’m fine” as you addressed. Being angry, hurt, confused, and scared are all human and all apart of this life. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of this journey – I don’t feel like such a failure at my Christian walk b/c I do get scared,, I do get upset, I do question… I pray others will read your blog and feel the same. Thank you again.

  12. PS: I only met Cole a couple times… but his infectious smile and genuine excitement has stayed with me, even before …. Conner always had a cute or funny Cole story… Michael, did too…. So again, thank you for sharing your son with us.

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