When you have a section of your life taken away with amnesia, most of it comes back. You have to work hard at some of it, asking questions, looking at pictures, but sometimes it will not come back until you are confronted with it. It is an odd feeling walking by someone who you don't know but they know you because you went bra shopping with them and they opened up their heart to you at one point in time. It is odd to get asked the question, "who said I love you first" and you have to turn to your husband and ask him, because you really can't remember.
Or to call and apologize that you didn't celebrate your parent's anniversary, only to be told you actually did. AND said a rather nice speech.
And then to be told I had agreed to be their power of attorney, and we'd had such a serious conversation about it...and yet, I know nothing about being power of attorney.
So, in sitting with another couple this weekend, talking about old times, I realized that most of my memories have come back. I remember our wedding and most of the details. I remember living in a honeymoon trailer for six weeks after the wedding, and now I remember somebody destroyed our car and hotel room during the ceremony...but I digress.
Still, almost 12 years after I awoke in the hospital, there are people who I have not come in contact with. And they wander out there in the world not knowing that I don't know them. Do they miss me? Did I go bra shopping with them?
A few months ago, in a room filled with people, a woman my age came up to me, and exclaimed, "Oh, I thought it was you!" I had no idea who she was. Was she from Mr. Man's work? From his group of whatever he's president of?
Then she pulled over another, older lady, and said, "Mom! Remember Erin? She was so-and-so's roommate!" I had a roommate named so-and-so? I looked to my left for Mr. who had suddenly disappeared. My source of knowledge was gone and I was a scared deer in the headlights of a foreign car with highlights.
They both looked at me with big, welcoming smiles on their faces, and I must've looked odd because instantly their faces dropped.
"You don't know, do you?" the first woman asked. I didn't know. And now I really didn't know.
"So-and-so died," she whispers. If I remember correctly, she put her hand on my shoulder and tenderly told me of the death of her friend, how her husband up and married the next girl around and is a disgrace to his children, and oh, the children. She shook her head back and forth.
I had a roommate named so-and-so and she died? "I'm so sorry," I said. I really was. "I had no idea." I really didn't. Later, after I found Mr. and our friends, and I told them of the conversation, they weren't much help in the information department. The woman remains nameless, as does her mother. BUT the roommate has since entered into my memory bank and, yes, I am knocked over that someone so young could pass just like that. And I didn't even know her. Well, kinda didn't.
Any good ol' bang on the head can cause amnesia. Or a stroke or blood clot. Are you at risk? Want to know what you can do to prepare yourself?
Things that I have learned in trying to remember:
- Diaries/journals are amazing sources of information. What ever happened with that guy in University? Page 10 in the pink booklet - went off to be a bachelor/hermit in the woods. What happened to your guitar? Page 1 of the purple book - I gave it away.
- Photo albums are a top solution to the memory bank. You live through photos. What your mind cannot remember, it absorbs from a photo and works around it to fill in the blanks.
- Friends and relatives are very important, especially those who have been a part of that time forgotten. They can answer your questions, and in Mr.'s case, give mostly honest answers. He did try to tell me I promised to make his lunches and iron his shirts. Not going to happen.
- Lastly, take every moment to cherish your loved ones.