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What Melissa Could Potentially Forget

After I finished The Husband’s Secret, Ana suggested Liane Moriarty’s book, What Alice Forgot.  I love Moriarty’s writing style, so I quickly jumped into the new book without looking at what it was about.

Answer: a lot of infertility and loss.

But I’m not ready to unpack that part of the book yet.

The general plot line is that Alice sustains a head injury during an exercise class and loses the last ten years of her life.  She comes to thinking that she’s newly married and pregnant only to discover that she’s getting divorced and is parenting three children.  The only people she remembers are the people who were in her life 10 years ago.

In one scene, her sister mentions that Alice baked her brother-in-law banana muffins, and Alice muses that she doesn’t know how to bake banana muffins and wonders what recipe she used.

I started panicking as I read this.  There is so much information that exists solely in my head, that has never been written down.  It’s like never backing up your computer; you could lose all your documents.  I need to back up my brain.

There’s my chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I make them for everyone.  People request these cookies.  What if I got bonked on the head and forgot how to make them and no one could ever eat them again?  What if they coveted them, sighing, “I wish we could eat Melissa’s cookies one last time…”  But they couldn’t.  Because of the head bonk.

But those are just cookies.  What about all the memories I’m holding for other people?  I have thousands of stories from the twins’ childhood, funny things they said or did, or touching moments that they’ll want to hear about down the road.  I am the memory keeper for large chunks of my marriage to Josh.  My job depends upon my memory.  Let’s say that I need to write a scene where someone is acting awkward at a party.  I go through my mental file cabinet and take out the figurative folder under “A” for “awkwardness at parties” where I’ve filed away moments that I noticed while once at a party and observed someone uncomfortably clinging to the wall.  And I use that as a template for creating my awkward character.

What would I do if I lost my memories?  And how does one back up a brain that is constantly in flux, being filled with information every single second of the day?

This book is freaking me out.

Thanks a lot, Liane Moriarty.*

* I’m only saying that semi-sarcastically.  I’m enjoying the book, and you’re a skillful, engaging writer.

6 comments

1 Pepper { 05.08.14 at 7:34 am }

Oh my goodness, that book! I read that one first, before The Husband’s Secret, and on the one hand, I LOVED it. Such a great, well-crafted tale. On the other hand, it also freaked me out so much. It made me unbelievably sad that she couldn’t remember her children, especially as babies. And I, of course, got way too involved in her sister’s life and infertility. I chose this book for my book club and was so disappointed by the superficial, blah discussion we had. Sometimes I forget that not everyone gets as emotionally involved as I do.

2 a { 05.08.14 at 8:40 am }

Isn’t this here blog your backup (or, part of it, anyway)?

Actually, I think that’s one of the main components that make up grief – the loss of memories that you will never again be able to access (I think the other main component is the loss of potential – the things that will never be).

I read the book, but it didn’t really stick with me…

3 Ana { 05.08.14 at 9:53 am }

Sorry, I was recommending it based on others’ recs to me, I still haven’t read it (still on hold at the library…). Thanks for the warning, though. I really did like “Three Wishes”, it stuck with me way more than “The Husband’s Secret” and was more relatable overall.

4 Lori Lavender Luz { 05.12.14 at 4:49 pm }

Which reminds me. Would you send me some chocolate chip cookies? I’ll vault them for analysis just in case. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Wow. Mind blown. You, more than most (and bloggers in general) already do document so much. But what if the very essence of our existence — our memories of it — were to disappear?

I hope my brain stays healthy as long as all my other organs do.

5 Esperanza { 05.13.14 at 6:15 pm }

I got this book based on this post and I’m TOTALLY obsessed with it. I want to listen to it constantly (the awesome Australian narrator is not making it any easier to stop listening, that’s for sure). I definitely have a fews posts to write about it, but I want to wait until I’m done. THANKS SO MUCH FOR THE RECO! It’s a great book.

6 loribeth { 05.22.14 at 7:47 pm }

Try as we might, we will never preserve every memory… and so often, it’s only until people are gone that we realize all the questions that will never be answered. My mother still hankers after the orange rolls my grandmother used to make… sadly, the recipe was in her head, not written down anywhere. And I have a ton of questions about the family history that I wish I had been able to ask older relatives. I’m thankful I had the talks with them that I did while they were here, though…!

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