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Lost (Memory) and Found (Belonging)

January 23, 2011

You wake up in the hospital, surrounded by strangers, told you’ve been in a coma for almost six weeks. But the strangers aren’t medical workers; they’re your children, your husband. You had viral encephalitis. The trauma of the illness, the coma, is compounded by the trauma of your memory loss. And by the family’s trauma, that of the husband and kids who’ve “lost” you, their loved one. And ultimately, the trauma of realization: your memory is gone, most likely permanently.

I just read a short article, “Lost and Found,” by the woman who, sadly, owns this story. But she wouldn’t have written it without hope. She wouldn’t have felt the urge to craft this story otherwise. And craft she had to do, operating as she does from a reservoir emptied of its life experiences. That hope began when she first recalled a childhood activity, something she did almost every day, just walking in the park. “I was able to link these memories to the people who I was told are my mother and father, as well as my three sisters. I started to feel a sense of belonging with them, a feeling I’ll never take for granted again.”

When you memory, it seems to me, no matter who you are or why you’re doing it, you’re looking for just that, a sense that you belong somewhere in your own head.

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