My father was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s when I was about fifteen years old. Then my stepfather had a similar issue caused by plaque buildup short circuiting his brain when I was around thirty. Watching them both deteriorate was beyond intense, exhausting, depressing, sad, frustrating.
My obsession with my own memory began early, obviously. I cling desperately to the oft-heard advice: Losing your keys doesn’t signify a problem, it’s forgetting what your keys are for.
That book, Still Alice by Lisa Genova, left me a soggy mess.
Do you ever think on a memory and wonder how much of it is real? How much of that memory is true and factual, how much is your mind adding or removing, how much is pieced together from other peoples memories of it, or a picture?
My kids will learn something in the morning and then while sitting around the dinner table if their father asks them what they learned today they’ll give a blank stare. Prompts from me with “what was the word/color/number/etc” seem to have no effect. I know they’re retaining the info or they wouldn’t go from knowing all their letters to knowing the letters sounds, or from knowing the sounds to paying an animal alphabet game, etc. So where is all that stuff stored?
My kids can recall an event I’d completely forgotten about. Sometimes in their telling I’ll remember, sometimes not. Are these lost keys or not knowing what the keys are for?
It’s been ages since I’ve done any sort of website work, and even then it was never on a professional level. Today I find myself thrown back into it…I’m lost. Not only has the hosting platform upgraded since last I saw it, but things were done to it that I was never involved in and don’t know how to fix. It’s easy to spiral into panic at how much I’ve forgotten and I’m forcing myself to breathe, recognize that I’ve not forgotten this, it’s all brand new.
We may or may not have gotten COVID, hard to tell as the tests are inaccurate if they’re even available. A long-term effect of COVID can be brain fog. Brain fog is also an effect of pregnancy, insomnia, stress. Have I lost the keys or forgotten what they’re for?
I’ve heard the story of riding my tricycle into the pool so many times I’m convinced it’s a memory.
My friend swears she remembers things from near-birth.
I’ll sometimes meet someone and know in my gut I’ve met them before, even when it’s not possible, even when they agree it’s our first meeting…my name makes it pretty easy to know if you’ve met me or heard of me and I’m sure I can trust these other peoples memories better than my own; if they say we haven’t met, we haven’t.
I read a book the other day that mentioned the round ligaments of a womans body stretching during pregnancy. I’d completely forgotten about this. I never wanted to forget about it. My first pregnancy was magical because it was so unexpected, I savored everything even the unsavory. Like round ligaments stretching.
I have no answers, no advice, no great truths. I keep a journal and have since I was a child. I keep this website as I attempt to figure out my future. I keep photos in albums on FaceBook for my boys. I try my best not to lose my keys and live in fear of forgetting what they’re for.
This post was written as a thirty minute writing exercise, no editing, no stopping and was inspired from a writing prompt in Bryan Collins’ “Yes, You Can Write!” book available here.