I met someone this afternoon who told me the story about her daughter being killed in a car accident when she was only 16. She even shared with me a picture of her daughter who was indeed a beautiful girl. It is amazing how grief creates an instant bond between the people who are unwillingly left behind. It is the kind of kinship you would never wish for but are relieved to find once you enter into that “family.” I’ve felt more love in the last five months than I’ve ever experienced. While she was hugging me she asked me my age. I didn’t answer her immediately. It wasn’t because I thought the question was invasive or inappropriate. I didn’t respond because I couldn’t remember. I started to panic. How could I forget my age?! I must have looked like an idiot…or just came across as rude. You’d think she had just asked me to recite The Canterbury Tales in Middle English while balancing on a toothpick. I knew the year I was born and so I was trying to work backwards and suddenly I lost the ability to count as well.
This isn’t the first time I have found myself utterly perplexed and confused by such a simple question. Last week I completely forgot not only where I parked, but what type of car I drove. Did I have a Ford, Honda, Toyota…I had no idea. I just started pressing the unlock button on my key until I saw the tail lights of my car blink. I’ve been asked very basic questions at work and I just stare at the person like a deer caught in headlights, afraid to admit that I can’t remember. I call this phenomenon “Griefheimer’s Disease” and from what I’ve been told a brain going through grief looks very similar to a brain riddled with Alzheimer’s Disease. The good news is that a “Griefheimer’s” brain will eventually repair itself but it could take a year or more. I’m starting to wonder if I should start sewing my name and address in my undergarments…you know, just in case.