I can’t remember what happened a few hours ago. I can’t remember a few minutes ago. In fact, I can’t remember. I have become accustomed to this kind of not remembering. I can feel the pulse in my neck; I am dizzy with nervous energy yet somehow exhausted at the same time. I’m afraid of losing my mind. Not going crazy; just losing my mind. I feel like I’m sweating though I know that I am not; in general, this is frightening and uncomfortable.

My grandmother lay in bed for years and years before her death. I remember her writhing, turning from side to side, her body engulfed in delirium tremens, her mind overwhelmed by thoughts she could not control. Why do I remember that? Why does my mind return to her, feel the presence of a woman so long gone? I have always feared my resemblance to her – the blonde hair, the round body, the blue eyes. Will I spend the last years of my life wearing Depends, lost in memories of my difficult childhood? Will I wish that I had accomplished more, loved more, been more lovable? Like her, I am more and more secluded, more and more alone. I have no idea how to be around people despite the fact that once upon a time I loved being social.

This is terrible. The solitude reminds me of a time when I was nothing but social. I worked, I taught, I loved my students. No one could say that I was anything but a teacher. My whole life was wrapped up in that wonderful occupation. My office had a revolving door – students in, students out, students in, students out. My days were spent welcoming students in, mourning as students went out. Now, I don’t see students at all. I am alone. I am alone. This is terrible.

12 thoughts on “I Can’t Remember
  1. Michelle, Your family and friends remember you and honor your generous heart and intellectual curiosity. Every time you feel alone take down one of the books that you have co-written, read your own words and marvel at the great person you are.
    You will never be alone because we know you and love you.

  2. So much love to you, Michelle! Hope you will feel the peace & positive energy flowing your way. In my thoughts, we are always already on a porch on Athens or Cincinnati, talking, celebrating, creating new worlds. Your writing does that for me– here, now. Keep it flowing! Love, Susan

  3. Incredibly powerful post here, Michelle. Yours is the best blog I have ever read.

  4. Michelle, you are still the fantastic person that you were in your memories. This damned disease has put you through so much these last 18 months, how can you help but feel frightened and angry. I very well know such feelings, the terror wrought by being forced to watch yourself disappear piece by piece. All I can say is hold on, and try to be kind to yourself. Give your body a chance to heal, to bounce back from all that it’s been through over the last year and a half. Don’t yet consign yourself to your grandmother’s fate, life is a road made up of nothing but blind curves. You are in my thoughts and heart, and I look forward to resuming our long-distance friendship whenever you are feeling up to it. I know the lonely feeling you so eloquently describe, and I also know that the struggle to fight this disease is easier when the burden is shared with others bearing similar loads.
    Love, Marc

  5. i don’t have anything brilliant to say. i was hoping that some of this would improve after you got out of the hospital– is the memory still not functioning correctly?

    i am grateful to have been one of those students in and out of your office. do you know that whenever i was in the depths of despair, a late 90s baby lesbian, i would think of you and Deb and focus on the fact that maybe just maybe being queer wasn’t a sentence of shame, of being alone, of being an outcast. maybe it could mean that there was someone to share my life with. and many years later, here i sit with my fierce, brilliant femme. i could have never gotten here without you.

    i’m glad i was able to visit for even one afternoon when i was in cincinnati in january. i’m hoping for a breakthrough for you. something, anything, to make you feel less alone or trapped.

    i love you.


  6. Love you and this fierce, undecorated post. Really looking forward to visiting tomorrow. xoxo

  7. hi michelle.

    i’m really glad i was able to make it out to see you in january. i’ve always admired the way you carry yourself and even now, you still have that regal quality. your mentoring and friendship has always meant so much to me. i hope you see these comments and know how much you are loved and respected. like others have written, you’re not alone. this is such a difficult thing you’re facing down and i can’t pretend to know what that’s like. but i’m rooting for you and so are many other people.

    love you!


  8. I second Marc’s comments because if anyone appreciates the hardships of this illness, it is he.

  9. dear Michelle. This was a wonderful posting and it touched me deeply. I have so many challenges with acceptance. My daughter Allison has MS. She is 41. She was diagnosed when she was 33. She probably had it in college be cause that’s when the falling and the leg pain started. She also has two children. 4 and 6. She also has the loss of memory and it seems to be getting worse daily. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what I can do. I help with the children. Cooking. Organizing because her mind won’t let her do that. ( or I should say constantly reorganizing. ). Her brother and I are starting to have to be around in the evening to check that the children are getting homework done. Forms turned in. Make sure it’s not early release day or no school day. I don’t know where to turn. We had such good support from the MS Society in Seattle but it’s different here in Florida. At any rate I have a deep understanding of what you are experiencing now. I will keep you in my thoughts, prayers and meditations. Keep going.

  10. Michelle, in your own mind you are alone, but here, through the words of your blog you are connected. Connected to a network of incredible support and light and love that travels every day through the atmosphere and cuts deep into the doubt and fear. You do not need memories to feel love, you just need heart. You’ve got that Michelle. We know it.

  11. Michelle, you expressed yourself so beautifully…..the forgetting, the fear, the anxiety. Please know that you are not, and never will be alone. There are friends all over the country who will always be here to support you. Marge and I are just a small part of your Maine fan club. Give yourself a big hug for us.

  12. I love you all. I just reread these comments and I feel so grateful to have you in my life.

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