It has been thirteen years since viral encephalitis attacked my mother’s brain.
The virus induced a coma that lasted 17 days and resulted in devastating damage to the frontal and temporal lobes of her brain.
The trauma—a result of a "brain on fire"—erased the previous decade and left her short-term memory severely compromised.
Today, at age 60, Diana remembers most things for only minutes, sometimes hours, after they occur.
My mother, once an independent mother of four, now has a caretaker, does not drive or work and keeps track of every aspect of each day in a journal we’ve deemed “the book.”
The cruelest aspect—and one differentiation from Alzheimers or dementia—is that my mother lives each day aware of a once more complete existence.
In many ways, we are made of our memories. They inform who we are in the present and who we will become in the future. They give each moment substance, an accumulation of which gives our lives worth and meaning.
Thirteen years have passed since my mom got sick and yet it is still painful and surreal to spend an afternoon or the weekend together and know neither the words or the moments shared will be remembered.
For my mother’s part, I admire her strength but desire little more than a medical miracle that might allow her to remember the last years of her life.
This accompanies a short video also entitled, Momentary.