Remembrance Sunday is a day when we remember. We remember those that lost their lives fighting for a better Britain. We remember the everyday heroes that fought for our country, both on the battlefields and back at home. We remember the sacrifices that were made, and for that we feel truly thankful.
Remembering, in the other sense of the word, is something different altogether. As many of you will know, when I first came out of hospital I did not have the ability to form new memories. I also spent a significant amount of my stay in hospital in an induced coma, or on vast amounts of medication, which did not enable me to know my own name, let alone remember anything. This means that there is a rather large dark patch in my being, of what I have absolutely no recollection. Although the media latched onto this small detail and described me as ‘the girl that lost her memories’, at the time, I could not understand why this was so important. It was not until more recently that I fully understood what a vital role memory plays in our lives, and how a lack of memory can have such a devastating impact.
People are always saying that they would ‘forget their head if it wasn’t attached to their shoulders’, but I think it is important to try to understand what it is really like to live without a memory.
I am never sure how much information I can divulge about people I have met without getting into trouble, so for that reason I have tried to keep this as ambiguous as possible.
I was touched recently by a couple that were celebrating their wedding anniversary. It should have been a momentous occasion, reaching the quarter of a century mark after living a happy life together. Sadly though, one key ingredient to martial bliss is no longer present. One of them described it as ‘bitter sweet’.
They were thankful that their companionship was still alive, but there was sadness, that their past was no longer their future. One of them no longer has any memory; after suffering from a brain injury, they are no longer able to form new memories or retrieve ones from the past. This means that they cannot remember their wedding, their honeymoon, or any of those momentous occasions that have happened ever since. It means that they are living in a world that no longer makes sense. When each day is a struggle. When remembering is impossible.
I think that in today’s society, with people living longer, and higher levels of dementia and memory difficulties than ever before, it is important to try to remember those that cannot remember themselves.
For me, it makes the fact that we should be living each day as though it is our last, even more poignant. For me, it shows that on this day of remembrance, we should remember not just those heroes of war, but those who are everyday heroes in life, those that have to overcome hardships and still carry on each and everyday. For me, remembering is everything.
Here’s one of my last memories for a year…