My mother cannot remember Easter Sunday of 2005. She doesn't remember waking up that morning, riding in an ambulance, or spending most of the day in the hospital. She has no idea how scary that day was for my dad and I, as we listened to her repeatedly ask what day it was and where she was. We feared the very worst as doctors ran test after test to determine if she was having a stroke or if there was some other explanation for her bizarre symptoms. She was on vacation, but she didn't remember that either. She had forgotten the past several weeks of her life and couldn't remember anything she was being told. The final diagnosis was transient global amnesia. None of us had ever heard of it. It is a very uncommon condition in which a person temporarily loses the ability to create new memory. Doctors do not know what causes it, though stress seems to be the trigger, especially for women. It is of short duration, harmless, and rarely returns. By that evening, my mother was foggy and tired, but otherwise back to normal. Her memory of the previous days returned, but she is a complete blank with regards to that one day.
So one week ago today, when I found myself driving my sweet husband to the hospital after finding him standing befuddled in our bedroom, unable to remember what day it was or anything he had done that morning, I had to ask myself, "How could something so uncommon happen to two unrelated people in my immediate family?" The unlikeliness of it frightened me to the point of being physically ill. To say it was disconcerting to have my best friend, the man who is my rock of support in every part of life, be so altered and disconnected, is an enormous understatement. As the more likely suspects were gradually ruled out by a string of tests that ran into the following day, I was able to release the death grip I had clamped down on my emotions. Ironically, it wasn't until he was himself again and back home, that I felt the full trauma of it all.
I am thankful that lightning can strike twice and that my husband's episode was indeed transient global amnesia and not a stroke or tumor or any of the other scary things the doctors mentioned to me that day. I am also thankful for the mercifully brief, though painful, reminder to not take his presence in my life for granted. I am not thankful that my request that he retire immediately was denied, but you can't have everything.