I opened my eyes one Tuesday morning, this man, he tells me it was a Tuesday morning. I am fourteen...I think that I am fourteen - and I just cry to go home...will this strange bearded man call my mother and have her come get me? Is it okay with my mama that I slept at this strange man's house? I slept in a chair, afraid of the man who had shared my bed for more than twenty years (this is what he tells me- we married over twenty years ago?). Fear, confusion, panic....and I.just.want.to.go.home.
This stranger had not hurt me, never would...I just could not remember him. He has proven himself a gentleman, a gentle man, kindhearted and good. He has cared for me...gently, reminded me of who I am, who we are, who our children are. He has had a few good laughs - like when he introduced me to my own fourteen year old boy-man. Me, thinking I am fourteen, shocked to discover that I have birthed a boy so old. Me, near weeping, asking, "How old am I then?" Then, he brings me the wee one. This five year old bundle of love, and my heart, it melts and I know he speaks truth. The mirror, it reflects truth. Years are marked around my eyes and gray streaks my hair. Grief overwhelms the heart when it is forced to remember every loss, the years that have marked me. Joy grabs the heart as it remembers the victories and promises.
These past weeks have been ones of reliving...I have relived the losses, wept tears over the death of grandparents, shed tears over the loss of children, remembered the pains. I have rejoiced over the joys...the recounting of the broken womb bearing children and the old woman bearing a child. Yes...my life is being lived again. I feel different because life is gift...all of it. And I have bowed my head in the giving of thanks for each memory regained - the sorrows and the joys. I do not remember getting married...but I am - and this man, in the past week, proves he is more than I deserve. Grace that I remember how much I love him, and how we first met - sheer grace is the depth of his love! I do not remember being pregnant, but I have been - four times this man tells the doctor at my appointment - and two children breath this side of heaven. Grace that I remember holding each wiggling, new from the womb body. I do not remember friends, but they call to see how I am. Grace that I have such loving friends.
A week passes, I think my memory is back...I remember family and friends, I remember this blog, but the reading of it...I sit and wonder at some of what is written: so this is ME? MY LIFE? I have figured out how to do laundry - where the laundry is...I call to order pizza. And that, that is when the reality of my loss comes crashing. The man on the phone, he wants my phone number. I hesitate, nearing panicked tears. He tries again....I don't know my own phone number. How long have we had it? How long have we lived at this address? This husband of mine tells me we have lived here for twenty years. The phone number? The same for twenty years. So how do I not know it?? How do I remember email addresses and passwords to email, but have no idea what my home phone number is? Confusion, panic, fear boil in my heart as I try to remember. The mail on the table, it has the address...and so the pizza gets ordered and the boys get fed. But my head? It aches with the confusion of not knowing...with the not
I go to get lab work done. This man who walks beside me, he drives. But me, I decide that I can do this by myself. I walk to the registration desk. The lady, she smiles sweet, talks about Christmas, asks if I am ready. Oh, yes, I am ready for the coming of the Lord, Him overcoming my flesh, the joy that is only had in Jesus. This I remember - a moment of joyous grace! Then she asks my birth date. I easily rattle it off, relief flooding. My address, I check the driver's license she just handed me back. My phone number, my social security number, my heart drums wild. The man who has proven faithful, he told me these...but I don't remember what he said. She nods, and says, "I see,that is what you are here for. It is fine."
Is it fine? Is it fine to not remember the one who has walked with you twenty years? Is it okay to forget the children you bore? Is it fine to not remember more than twenty years of your life? The boy-man, I confess, I learn about myself through him. I question him all day while his daddy is at work. I want to remember, I want to know. I ask silly things like, "Where do you go to school?" He stares at me, eyes open wide, disbelief on his face: "You, you are my teacher. You homeschool me." I sigh tired. The head, it aches and the not remembering, it saps of energy. How do you know what it is you don't remember? I go to church and I feel overwhelmed. The lights, the music, the heat...all too much for my aching head and the pain surges fresh. Friends stop to chat and I speak uncertain...do I know them? I ask to go home...home - a nest of safety. And he, my husband, this man whose love shines in his eyes, he drives me home, tucks me in to sleep on the sofa and returns to church.
And now, two weeks since it started - that is what my husband says - the war rages on inside my head. The memory, oh, I think it has returned...mostly. Still the moments of panic when someone calls and I can't remember...I can't remember who they are or how I know them. Thankfully, it happens less and less often. My sister, she tells me that my speech has returned to normal (I did not know it was slow), and my kids...well...they say that I am back to normal (I am not sure this is a good thing). My husband, I remember him now, and I am thankful for the grace of a man who walks faithfully beside me even when I can't remember.
And I am thankful that forever, always, Jesus walks beside me. He does not leave me alone even when I forget His tender mercies...His love is limitless and in the midst of pain, He is an anchor for this soul.