Missing Memories

Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit down. We’re re-watching Seinfeld because it’s the obvious choice when we can’t decide what to watch. With each episode, I find myself verifying, “We’ve seen this before?” Several seasons in, I am realizing that I have absolutely no recollection of any of the content. It seems that I mentally checked the box “have seen Seinfeld” and moved on.

Over the last four months, both my physical and cognitive abilities have been slowly returning. It’s only now, with my surplus of energy at the end of each work day, that I am beginning to catch a glimpse of how sick I was. I feel literal astonishment each time my legs carry me to the mailbox or I stay aware past sundown. I didn’t even have the energy to comprehend how abnormal my daily struggles were. It’s only now, a few months into this period of recovery, that I see just how compromised my body and mind were as my body fought to overcome the valley fever infection and the cascade of issues left in its wake.

I don’t seem to have retained many memories over the last five years. My parents will reference events, my boyfriend will bring up an inside joke, or my boss will bring up an older project. For years, I cluelessly played alone. Smile and nod was my waking life.

I’m now forced to admit that I have no idea what they’re talking about. Over the last five years, I have attended weddings, funerals, work functions, and anniversary dinners. I’ve gone on vacations, given and received special gifts, and surely experienced a vast spectrum of emotions. I don’t have memories of any of the above.

My last vivid memory is my old employer sending me flowers for three consecutive days with the message, “Get better! Your work isn’t doing itself!” two weeks into my stint with valley fever in April 2015. I recall the intense fear that I would be fired for missing so much work. I remember yelling at my boyfriend when he first suggested that something was wrong with me and that my sister gave me Christmas dish towels last years that have remained in constant rotation all year long. In the last two months, we’ve watched two anime shows that my boyfriend enjoyed as a teen. Pictures suggest that we visited snow, Powell’s bookstore in Portland, a fancy outdoor event, and forested creek. Other than that, I feel lost.

I’ve been journaling vigorously over the last few weeks, trying to uncover the missing memories, all to no avail. As much as I search, my mental filing cabinet is missing several drawers. Until reviewing some past blog posts, I had forgotten about the the extensive testing and some of the scary findings. It feels as if that half-decade period of my life has been erased, or perhaps never even happened. What if something important happened and I have no clue?

It’s a bizarre feeling. I don’t feel sad because I have no sense of connection to the lost memories. Yet, I feel like I should be grieving. And I feel guilt that I’m not.

I’ve fallen out of contact with nearly every friend, I stop attending local clubs and events, and I don’t even remember exactly what kinds of things I used to enjoy. I may be metaphorically lost at sea, but I think what disturbs me the most is that I’m perfectly content with my lackadaisical attitude and absence of emotion. I lived 4,593 days with absolutely no recollection of doing so. Should that bother me?

At the end of the day, I’m just grateful that I am beginning to show signs of recovery. I don’t know whether those memories are buried, to one day be unearthed, or whether they were simply never captured in the first place. Regardless, I am hopeful that my ability to capture memories will be restored going forward because, through I can’t bring myself to mourn my missing memories, it saddens me to imagine the inability to remember all the exciting things I have planned for the years to come.

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