I woke up with no memory of who I was. Amnesia as I am finding out is not, like what one views in a movie. There is no references, no bumps along the road of memory to lead a person to a series of connected thoughts, which might-in turn lead to a destination known as self.
I was amazed at the fact I could walk and talk. I could even tie my shoes and eat a hamburger without instructions or guidance. But try to operate a machine, say for instance a car? Cold flop sweat would break out on my forehead, and within a few minutes my whole body was greasy.
The little girl who comes up to me and asks for hugs, is my daughter. At least that is what the photographic evidence and the woman who came and got me at the hospital tell me. She kinda, sort of, looks like me. But there is more of the woman about her than there is of me.
I know on some intellectual level this is my family. I have albums full of pictures, with what appears to be my face smiling back at me. All the clothes in the closet, the woman gives me to wear, fit. The little girl and the woman constantly ask me if, I remember this birthday or the night we went to see the Electric Light Parade at Disneyland. I try and tell them something but, there is nothing for me to grasp. My life started again, from scratch at 12:45 PM on Tuesday September 9th 2011. Anything before that has fled into some dark corner and refuses to come out.
From the woman’s back porch I can see the rural hospital, where I was airlifted from. I sit outside in the evening hours and look in that direction. Once in a while I see a helicopter take off, headed for the big city on the other side of the mountain. I always say a silent prayer, that their load of misery is treatable.
The man who once lived in this house like books about war and of history. He even has a suit of armour sitting in a corner. The little girl tells me I was a knight and I would fight other knights in friendly combat.
She said to me, “I used to tell all my friends, my daddy is a knight.” She cried when she finished and I took her in my arms and made soft noises in the back of my throat.
So most days will find me walking the little girl to her elementary school, which is just a couple of blocks away. I come home and I make a cheese sandwich and then I lay down on the couch until noon, when it is time to go get the little girl from school. The woman I live with, has an alarm she has set to go off, so I have plenty of time to get there.
The little girl is in kindergarten and she tells me about the kids she has as friends. The type of snack she ate and how she pretends to go to sleep at nap time.
I asked her, “What do you do when everyone is asleep?”
She replied, “I think about who I want to be.”
“Well, who do you want to be?” I asked her.
“Today Daddy, I thought about being an Astronaut.”
“Really? That’s pretty cool.” I replied.
Now as we come home from her school, our conversations always roll around to who we want to be. It's great fun. Yesterday we talked about being an underwater fish person. I can’t remember what they are called. But they study fish and crabs. That’s important to her, I can’t leave out the crabs.
For five days, out of the week, that is my routine. I wake up, the woman gets up and dresses the little girl and then leaves to go to work. I walk the little girl to school and eat my sandwich. The pain pills the doctors have me on, make it hard for me to read the books, the man who once lived here had. I try, but after a while my head hurts too much.
I think if I could change something about myself… It would probably be to have something to hold on to. It would be nice to be able to remember the little girls name. Or maybe to just remember when the woman and I got married. I am tired of seeing sticky notes under photographs or on objects…
I see the little girl's pictures hanging on the refrigerator, showing a child’s perspective of a hospital bed. I know beyond a doubt they think I was in that bed, but I wasn’t. I just got out of that bed. A different me was there. I know they love me. I also know that the man who was once flown on a helicopter to a far, far away place, loved them a great deal.