"Men get tired of everything, of heaven no less than of hell; and that all history is nothing but a record of the oscillations of the world between these two extremes. An epoch is but a swing of the pendulum; and each generation thinks the world is progressing because it is always moving."
George Bernard Shaw "Man and Superman"
This morning I saw on the news a story about a woman named Jill Price. This is a woman who remembers everything due to a condition called "Hyperthymesia". She remembers everything - the good and the bad, the useful to the trivial - if she lived it, she recalls it. Other than making me absolutely deadly at Trivial Pursuit - having the ability to recall everything though, I imagine would be a curse. Remembering every moment of every day, everyday. The good, the bad and the not so good. In the interview, the interviewer mentioned that the woman had lost her husband and asked "so you remember this like it was yesterday?" to which Ms. Price replied she did. The thing is - this memory is so fresh, so detailed, so vivid, it literally is like it happened yesterday. This is not something I would want to face every morning upon waking for the rest of my life. Reliving the actual anguishing moments of losing my babies; feeling the fresh and overwhelming frustration from the negative hpts, the stress of the injections, the timing - any of it as if in real time, over and over again. Time has been my friend from the standpoint that it dulled my memory and took the edge off my pain. My memories now are mostly faded photographs of something that while I never will forget - you never forget something that leaves such a profound impact on you - I don't have to recall and relive repeatedly as if I were literally back in the moment. Initially, what led Ms. Price to seek medical help was the tortuous nature of her condition. Some of the scientists and doctors studying her condition are actually hoping she might help by holding the key to effectively treating Alzheimers - in the meantime however, she lives a life where she has no past, where it is always today - a 42 year long day.
I have the distinct impression most of my friends and family like me much better now that I am no longer trying to conceive, pregnant or miscarrying. When I mentioned I was likely having a hysterectomy this year - many of them seemed relieved. I guess they remember enough of what I was like - though their experience differed quite radically from mine. In a way, I am relieved too. I remember enough to know I am not up to the challenge anymore. With the dulling effect of time, things got better or easier to live with - but still painful enough and wearing enough, that to continue forward, practicality aside, is not something I could muster the energy for physically or mentally. Shortly after my second miscarriage, a woman from church stopped by with a card and plant. She told me she had lost a couple babies when she was younger (her children were all adults at this point.) and understood. I told her I only had one question for her "Will it get better?" She let out a big sigh and said that it would. I needed that - I needed to know it would get better. I needed to hear that it would get better from someone who knew - so I could truly believe those words. When I went on to have several more miscarriages, I clung to those words like a life preserver - believing, hoping that there would come a day when it would be better. This is what strikes me as tragic in the case of Jill Price, without some sort of hope for something better ahead, how do you keep on living? Does time just dull the memories and that is what takes the edge off the feelings? Or does time also dull the feelings and the two are mutually exclusive? The interviewer did point out that Ms. Price also remembers all the joys as well. I would think those are the memories she tries to keep forefront in her mind - a tightrope balance of the things she would rather forget and the things she does want to remember.
Forgetting everything or remembering it all? Today, I am grateful to be somewhere in the middle.