Our memories are funny things, aren’t they?
Some things we remember with an almost film-like quality, others are half formed and still others are fragmented snatches of time stitched together.
As I’ve been writing, I’ve been faced with huge gaping holes in my memory. Some of those holes are the natural ones of growing older and not needing to retain every experience in minute detail; others are empty because I was empty.
Marya Hornbacher writes:
“Madness strips you of memory and leaves you scrabbling around on the floor of your brain for the snatches and snippets of what happened, what was said, and when.”
The times when I was most unwell, I remember the least clearly; it is partly an act of grace that I can’t recall the agony, but I’ve always found it unsettling.
As I’ve been writing about those days, I’ve read old diaries and I’ve called on those who walked with me through the darkness to help me remember. They too have gaps – I had probably underestimated quite how painful it was for them to watch my fight – but they have helped me sketch out the bare bones of who I was and how I was during those times.
The piecing together of others recollections has helped me enormously; not only in writing the book, but in understanding my own story of which I’ve only had half-written chapters and enabled me to see the grace of God more clearly than I ever have before.
Frederick Buechner writes:
“It is through memory that we are able to reclaim much of our lives that we have long since written off by finding that in everything that has happened to us over the years God was offering us possibilities of new life and healing which, though we may have missed them at the time, we can still chose and be brought to life by and healed by all these years later.”
In hearing others’ recollections and beginning to understand who I was during those years, it’s shown me not only the gift of the amazing people God placed around me, but how He worked through them to show me more of His mercy and grace.
It turns out, God writes a more beautiful story that we could ever imagine.