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Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Relentlessness of Memory

I have an unusual sort of memory, I think. I've written about it in the past. It's not perfect, it doesn't involve photographic recall or a total inability to forget. Still, I think it's unusual. I've written about the way my memory works, and I've written about a sort of external memory storage trick that I use. Many of my postings are about memories of people or specific events, like the Challenger disaster or the first time I fell in love. These are memories that demand to be heard, to be brought to the fore, and by writing them out I make them quiet down for a while.

My memory is nothing compared to that of a woman I heard about this week on NPR.

She is called AJ.* She has total personal recall of every day of her life since she was a young girl. Her story is told here, and an interview with AJ is here.

Such a memory is a wonderful and terrible thing. Someday I may forget the sound of my grandmother's voice, the sensation of rubbing Ashes's belly, the experience of walking with Haley on the morning of the sun pillar, the meal that my father and I ate at Red Robin after I took him to see Revenge of the Sith. Someday I may forget the feeling of kissing my grandmother's cold forehead in the hospital the morning of December 13, 1998, of watching Ashes die at 7:52 PM on April 11, 2006, of listening to Haley let out a last sigh a few minutes after midnight on May 23, 2005, of seeing my dead father cradled in my mother's arms on August 24, 2005. Time and tide may help to diminish these painful memories.

AJ never will forget things like that in her life. She can't.

I'm glad I don't have her memory.

*For anyone wondering, the answer is: No.

1 comment:

Betz said...

This post made me cry. Yes, the first thing you forget is thier voice, no? My sister still holds the answering machine with my Moms voice on it. Very odd thing, I can remember clearly how her voice sounded when she sang Christmas songs, or country songs. I wonder why that is?