Something interesting happened the other day.
When my multiple sclerosis first hit, I lost a lot of my memory. I used to remember the plot of every book I’d ever read and every movie I’d ever seen. I could quote lines from books or movies at the drop of a hat. When I woke on that morning of December 31st, 2013, all of that was gone.
I couldn’t remember anything that I’d read or watched before and all memory of it was gone. I forgot people that I had known for years as well. They would approach me and I knew from the expression on their face that I was supposed to know them, but I didn’t. Those people reminded me of the Blank from Dick Tracy, known but unknown.
One time at work, I ran into a guy who I thought was checking me out while we rode in the elevator. When the elevator had cleared of people, he addressed me and asked how I was, whether or not I still talked to a person we had apparently both known. He looked at me with a sneer and I could not think of why he disliked me but could feel it running off him in waves. I had no idea who he was.
It did have a bonus side; I could now pick up any book and it would be like I had never read it before. I could watch movies that I had seen and I knew that this movie had brought me joy before and that was a way to comfort myself, even if I could not remember the plot or the lines that I used to know by heart.
People have remained a mystery to me. There are people that know me on my social media accounts, but I have no idea who they are really or how they know me. Some of them I’ve known for years, but I can’t recall how we met or who they were to me before I moved on to a different job and we were no longer in each others orbits. Sometimes, if the person is right in front of me and they are talking of things that we used to do, I will gently stop them and tell them what happened and that they will have to refresh my memory or at the very least tell me their name.
I find this very difficult to do. I know that it can be insulting, that this other person may have memories of me, but I have none of them. I feel embarrassed by this, but gradually I’m able to form a new relationship with the other person, if there is something there to salvage. Sometimes, it’s just nice to meet someone I used to know and now have the potential to know again.
The other day, I was contacted by a woman I used to know in high school…and I knew who she was right away.
Words really can’t express how I feel at knowing someone so clearly. It’s been so long since I’ve seen her and memories of who she was and what she had meant to me filled my mind. I could see her face; hear her voice and I knew her name without asking. This was bizarre to me. Usually, I tried to search within the shadows for the ghosts of people I used to know and coming up empty every time.
It was like some kind of gift, knowing who she was right away and recalling memories of times that we had spent together. It also reminds me how odd it is living with multiple sclerosis, that sometimes there will be a light that shines through the fog and everything becomes clear, even if just for a moment. Moments like that are few and far between, so I take it as the gift that it is, even though it has no form.
I could take it as a sign that my mind is healing itself, but I won’t be going that far right now. I’ll just enjoy the gift for what it is and the memories that I had forgotten but somehow remembered. I will gladly accept this gift and it sparkles so brightly.