Yesterday evening, I visited an old friend who was recovering from a major stroke, and I honestly would not trade that night for anything. I was lost in thought on the way back home about one thing more than anything else:
Memories are what make us who we are. Literally. Maybe philosophically people may disagree but I think even then they do. When we forget our past, we really can move on. When we remember the past, we can choose to accept the circumstances that are out of our control and live in a new positive light.
He has changed remarkably since the last time I met him. He had the widest grin when we first came in his room to visit, and it made me point that out and smile even bigger. We talked a lot, from jokes to deep, tearful conversations. He called it his second chance at life, and when he spoke about his son, his voice cracked and I knew he was hurting inside all along. He has such a gentle, loving heart for kids, not just his own. But of everyone he does remember, his kid went through a lot, and it even hurt me to know that his son knew and saw everything even when his dad thought he was asleep. And yet, he is still the wonderful and jokester kid that he is. In that moment, despite not revealing any tears, I shared that moment of sorrow with him. The two have been through a lot, and the world isn’t void of problems.
The people he remembers the most were the people he loved the most. I think in a morbid sense, yes, that is fascinating to me. He isn’t the type to be easily offended though and I love his personality for matching mine in that aspect. He couldn’t remember my other friend’s ex when we mentioned them, and even when put to the test I think he even had a hard time remembering my and my sister’s names haha. But I don’t blame him. He remembered my friend because the two have known each other for so long, through thick and thin. He has always been that kinda guy – a ride or die friend. I will always cherish and respect him for his values and outlook, even through his mistakes. I accept those too because he chooses to make himself a better person now. Just as much I have done for myself.
I’ve always been the dark jokester and today we told him the math book joke I first thought of when I heard that he suffered a stroke. We all had a good laugh about it. But one thing I didn’t get the chance to say is that he almost didn’t seem like he had a stroke. He’s doing quite well in recovery, albeit I did see him trip up in memory more than a few times. It’s just that he’s so fixated on bettering himself now. He has such a positive outlook he isn’t even worried about the eviction’s notice and property loss once he makes it out of rehab/therapy. At that moment, I admired him for his resilient spirit and positive determination to make things right. He wants to live to see his son grow up, and in his breaking tears I saw the dad I wished I could have. I told him he was a better dad than he thinks he is.
He didn’t need to have the best memory to be the best person he could be. All it took was for him to reflect on his past to change himself. Memories on a grander scale can break us as a person – it’s that power, that burden of knowledge that weigh heavily on us. In his first two weeks of awakening he said he was like a vegetable. He only is just remembering things now and is doing so much better physically, mentally, arguably spiritually. Without these memories, whether good or bad ones, I think we would all be less than sentient ourselves. That’s why we need to cherish the moments, and live in the “now,” use the past as a lesson than dwell on it, and look forward to new hopes and futures.
And maybe that’s part of the attractive quality of a diary, or at least writing is to me. Even when I forget in the daily train of thoughts, coming back to read my past experiences that my past self wrote in the time and moment that it occurred is an unmistakable feeling of reminisce, nostalgia, sorrow, whatever it was about. And even just for a moment I can relive it, remembering why it was so important to me. I use that as a sort of determination and inspiration for myself.
For someone as forgetful as me, memories mean the world to me. If I didn’t remember who I was, like in those first weeks of awakening for my friend, wouldn’t that mean you’re a changed person, a blank slate? If you don’t remember the people around you – I could see now just how painful that could be for others who love you. Are you then a nobody without your memories? I think, therefore I am, the saying goes. The very sustenance of being is as ephemeral as the existence of thought.