I read an article a few days ago entitled, “Rare detailed personal memory a burden, and ultimately a gift,” about a young woman who could remember every day of her life in complete detail. Every day. Every detail – what day of the week it was, what she did, what she wore. Everything. There was a sense in the article that this peculiar gift had sometimes driven her crazy, that beyond the incredible party trick, there was a certain torment from remembering so much. After all, we all have days not worth remembering in all their monotony and aggravation and others so difficult and dark that they need to be forgotten so we can function without weeping.
Me, I remember very little and, lest you think this is a symptom of something new and terrible, let me tell you I have always been this way. I remember the tiniest snippets of time, microscopic mind antiques, someone handing me a sandwich, my sister’s flawless feet hanging off the edge of her bed across the room from mine, my son walking with his hand on my shoulder around State Fair. Collector’s items, thousands of them, all crammed into a space too small, screaming to be cataloged.
One has to wonder why some moments get stuck in a mind’s revolving door and others fly through to be picked up by the wind and blown down the sidewalk.I don’t have an answer for that nor do I envy people who remember so much more than I do. My husband remembers Brewers games we went to twenty years ago, knows instantly if we’ve driven a particular patch of road before, and knows which lakes we canoed last summer and which ones we just talked about. It’s all water to me.
My children, on the other hand, remember every dropped stitch.
If there was ever a trial about my parenting and I was put on the stand, I’d be non-stop “I don’t remember. I don’t recall.” The jury would raise its 24 eyebrows. How can she not remember anything about raising all those kids? My kids, each one of them, would counter with chapter and verse. It wouldn’t all be pretty but I think some of it would be. I don’t remember.
I’d like to think that if the Alzheimer’s ax hits me, it won’t be the shock other people feel since I already don’t remember very much. Bu then I realize that Alzheimer’s is really about not remembering that I just typed this and then it’s about not remembering how to type and then it’s about thinking the keyboard is the dashboard of my car. Still, maybe my lifelong lack of memory will soften the blow, decades of practice in living totally in the moment. It’s a rare gift, being right here right now and don’t I know it.