The Moment I Was Forgotten

I will try to be more cheerful next week in my writing.

No promises, though.

I have been organising family photos in the past couple of months, taken mostly in the 90s (before camera smartphones existed and no one took their film to print anymore).

In the process, I have been besieged by memories, some fun, some bittersweet. In the 90s, I was quite the avid traveller, having gone from America to Europe to East Asia to Australia and New Zealand.

The photos are a memento of a past I can barely remember, but in these photos, I look quite happy. In some of them, I grin in a way I don't anymore - wide smiling, all my teeth showing, gums visible, my eyes squinting as my jaw muscles push my face upwards.

In most of my pictures now, I barely smile, and people often say I look tired.




Most of these 90s  photos were taken by my parents, and there are literally hundreds of them. We were the typical middle-class, vacations twice a year family.

Then the economy crashed, but anyway, the photos are not the point of these blog post.

The point: I have always said that making memories are more important than owning expensive, branded goods. I have no wish to own a Birkin, or to have a BMW. These things are nice to have if I can afford them, but if I had to choose between yet another holiday to Japan or to pay a monthly installment towards a car... I would hands down choose Japan, and take a lot of pictures in the process.

I treasure my memories of my family, my friends, and the happy times I have had intensely. These positive memories are the light that keeps me going, hoping that I will collect more such memories in the future.

There are also memories that make me sad and angry, but I also consider them an important part of learning to be a little wiser, of learning to treasure the happy memories even more in contrast to these negative memories.

If you consider a person's mental self to be his soul, and that a person's soul is composed of all the memories they have had so far, then this year I have lost my father twice.

First, his soul, and then a few days later, his physical self.

A double whammy.

My father did not forget everything, or forget who he was.

He just... forgot who I was.

Did this make me feel like I was plunged into freezing waters when it happened?

Yes. Only, without the bungee harness.

Days before he passed away, I experienced shock on the highest spectrum I have ever experienced it before in my life.

What else could I feel when in the hospital, my father looked at me, and DID NOT recognise me?

The day before, he could still recognise me, and the relatives who came to visit him in the hospital. He smiled weakly, and spoke little, but he knew who came.

A day after, he looked at me with watery eyes as he was asked who *I* was. I could see that he was struggling to remember, and after seconds of silence that felt like eternity, he said...

... my cousin's name.

"Is it *insert cousin's name*?"  

All who were in the room were disturbed, but of course, I was the only one who was traumatised.

There was distress.

There was pain.

There was melancholy.

When told my name, my father simply nodded as though he knew who I was after being told.

Did he?

I'm not sure, and I don't really want to know.

I didn't have the chance to know, anyway. I had yet to come to grips with being forgotten, had only just registered it. I didn't even have the chance to pray for serenity and grace to deal with this new challenge.

 After all, a mere 30 or so hours after I first registered being forgotten by my father, he fell into a deep sleep state that he would never awaken from.

I have newfound respect for children who deal with parents who have forgetfulness/ dementia/ Alzheimer's, especially those who have been forgotten by their own parents. How hard it must be to care for someone who should know you, but doesn't.

I have videos from that day, which I still cannot bear to watch. His answers to simple questions, while perfect the day before, were suddenly slow and wrong.

The year.

Where he was.

The prime minister of Malaysia.

The president of the United States.

He knew the correct answers a week prior to this, and yet... the answers WEREN'T correct anymore.

When I was telling the doctor about these answers, and tried to casually say I was forgotten without weeping, the doctor simply nodded carefully in sympathy.

"I have noticed in my patients who forget their relatives, that it's always the ones they love most that they forget first. He must love you very much." 

If this is true, then what a cruel thing memory is.

The people you should remember most, are the ones you forget first. 

I see no logic in that, but the world is illogical and arbitrary and cruel anyway.

Though the shock of being forgotten has been overshadowed by the pain of losing a loved one, I still remember it clearly as yesterday.

While this memory is painful, I have come to conclude that I would rather have this painful memory of being forgotten, than no memory at all.

As the photo albums I organised show me, I have had many more happier memories still... and I intend to keep them to heart for life.

I also feel... fortunate, that I am able to remember my life events through writing. A picture may speak a thousand words, but I want to read those thousand words, too, as I look back on my life.

I shall do my best to look forward to writing many millions more of words, whatever the shape and feel of the memories to come shall be.

Memories, are important. They are really the most precious things you have left, after someone is gone.

This, I shall not forget.