Each time I forget why I walked into the room, a streak of fear shoots through me hoping I am not showing early warning signs of Alzheimer’s. In an attempt to quickly calm that fear, I reassure myself that forgetting simple things is common. Last week I read an article listing some warning signs that could predict Alzheimer’s 30 years out. Forgetting where your car keys are made the list. Hmm, sounded ambiguous to me, although I was relieved knowing I have yet to forget where my car keys are.
In a world of convenience, we are busier than ever. With each task becoming simpler to complete, the list of jobs we tackle each day grows. Thousands of thoughts spark and swim within our heads in an attempt to complete the ever lengthening to do list. It would be foolish to think I could remember it all.
The truth is that I am terrified of Alzheimer’s. The thought of having my personality hulled out, my identity stripped until nothing but my outer shell remains horrifies me. It is a cruel trick of nature leaving the body behind after the mind has died, only to serve as a constant reminder of loss, a burden to loved ones. The withering away is what I find the most unsettling. All the success and experience diminished, fading away, like a boat aimlessly drifting out to sea.
I once thought being ravaged by cancer would be the worst way to die, mostly because I was in imminent danger of dying that very way. But with cancer you can still feel the pain of each loss, you know when you are losing. I would rather face my death straight on than die by fading into oblivion. I will take the truth and pain over ignorant bliss every time.
When I was a young mother, I thought I would never forget the moments that melted my heart. The snuggles on the couch, the day Dominic woke me by kissing my eyes, Xander’s fuzzy head in the crook of my neck. But the truth is that I do forget. When I look back through pictures or read old journals I am reminded of all that I have forgotten. With the aid of the photos and journals the memories do come back, but they are not as vibrant as the moment in which they happened.
Moments are precious and fleeting. Every little detail, the feeling of wonder, the beauty of experience, I want to remember all of it. Bathing my mind in the memories of joy, pondering the pain, swimming around in my mind’s treasures, coming up for air in the present moment. I want to remember this beautiful and scarred life I have lived. Only one person can tell my story, only one person has seen things as I have. To erase my memory, to change my personality, to delete my true self, would be the cruelest fate I could suffer.
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