Because what are we without five minutes ago?


My husband, Rich, lost his memory after he was hit by a car and suffered traumatic brain injury. In a moment of perfect clarity he once described his loss like this. “Pretend you are walking up the street with your friend. You are looking in windows. But right behind you is a man with a huge paint roller filled with white paint and he is painting over everywhere you’ve been, erasing everything. He erases your friend. You don’t even remember his name.” It’s terrifying. Because we are we without five minutes ago? What are we without our stories? Where is the continuum of consciousness? Is it all one big lily pad of a moment?

~ Abigail Thomas, Thinking About Memoir

Image: Street Art via mennyfox55


  1. That must be so scary. We take our memory for granted.

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  2. Very thought provoking… If we lose our memory who are we?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Like Steven King’s Langoliers…invisible creatures crunching up everything you left behind into nothingness,until you are crunched up, too. Frightening thought.

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  4. be thankful for the countless blessings…one is memory other is value.

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  5. Such an interesting thought, “Who would we be without our stories, our beliefs, our lies? Maybe memory loss is the ultimate state of being “present.”? His description of memory loss is perfect.

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  6. And I thought I couldn’t sleep 5 minutes ago before I read this.
    My father suffers quite a bit of dementia and I often think of how muddled and haywire his memories are. But they are there, even if all out of order and scrambled. To have them wiped, taken…wow.

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  7. My memory isn’t this impaired, but I did lose a huge chunk of time from electroshock. And I still have trouble turning short-term into long term memory, so I’d say I have a spotty paint roller behind me.

    I’ve learned to write everything important down. Everything else goes. I do live in the moment. And I’m a great one to tell secrets to, because I never remember them.

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  8. It wouldn’t be so bad if I got to choose which memories were painted over 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  9. wow, that must be overwhelming at times. while we all strive to live more in the moment, we would like to get here on our own terms –

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  10. Frightening, and yet such an interesting question, as we define ourselves so much by our past behavior and experiences. “I can’t do that because of ‘x’,” or “I’m sure I can handle that because of ‘y'” How to proceed without such guideposts, those silken threads that bind us. (and that image is a *perfect* accompaniment, DK, wowser!)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Potent thoughts… life without memory is death?


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