Today on Ron and Fez they posed the question ‘Would you pay to wipe your mind of unpleasant memories?’
I have mixed emotions, let’s say 90/10 exactly.
My first reaction is no. Everything I have experienced, good and bad, carved me into the person I am today. Every painful thing I experienced can be matched with something joyful. The death of my father/the birth of my daughter. I can’t feel the pure high of her birth without feeling the despairing agony of my father’s passing. As much as I hated to see my father die, in a strange way, that pain was my privilege. He was there at my beginning and I was there at his end. I washed his face and hands, I smoothed his hair and kissed his forehead. That was the price for loving him. I don’t believe in assigning blame for this heartbreak, this is the circle of life. All my joy and sorrow is the wheel of life that turns and turns for me. Just like for every bad day there is a good day. I want to experience it all. Experience eases our anxiety and gives us wisdom. I don’t want to forget any of it.
Now for my 10%
My friend’s husband passed away in December. He was the youngest of 5. His mother is elderly and living in a nursing home. Her memory is going. She can recall things from 1960 but not remember what happened yesterday. On the advice of her doctors, the family chose not to tell her that her youngest child passed away. In this instance, I have to agree. What benefit would there be in it? To give her the information that her youngest child is dead, the pain of that reaction, then having to return next week to her asking ‘Where’s Joey?’ I think her memory loss is protecting her from the worst thing a mother can experience, the death of her child.
A similar experience happened a few years ago when my stepfather had a pulmonary embolism and died in front of his elderly father. The father, who suffered from dementia, had no idea what was happening because he couldn’t remember who his son was. After my stepfather’s death he would ask ‘How is Mike doing? I heard he was sick” my mother would say ‘He’s ok now, don’t worry’ and he didn’t. He passed away a few years after that, never remembering his oldest child died in front of him. His dementia protected him in that way.
But there is always fear in memory loss. My grandmother had dementia. She would call my mom different names from her past. She would tell me she loved me and then not remember my name. It was like something shorted out in her head. Sometimes she could recall with clarity and other times she would cry in fear at her strange surroundings. She took great comfort in my daughter, whose name she never once forgot, in all her suffering.
But all in all, I wouldn’t want to forget. I just pray for more good than bad.