I wrote this in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge. Click here to see the challenge details.
I would introduce myself but I don’t know my own name. They say I was hit over the head and mugged. I had no wallet or phone when I was found. They say I should thank my lucky stars that I am alive; that I woke up from the coma. How do I know that’s a good thing? I can’t remember anything about my life. I have a wedding ring on, so I guess someone should be looking for me. But then I might be separated or divorced and in denial. Or maybe I’m a spy for some government agency and I have amnesia and someone is coming to kill me, like that film with Liam Neeson. What’s it called….? Dammit. Why can I remember his name and not the name of the film? Why can I remember his name but not my bloody own? I know who the prime minister is too. That’s a good thing apparently. It means I haven’t lost years of memory, just memories of certain things. Like myself. I mean honestly, who forgets themselves?
Still, it’s not all bad news; the doctor says this type of amnesia is often temporary. I should get most of it back, except maybe the actual accident. I’m happy with that. I’m not particularly keen to remember being knocked about and robbed. The doctor said that if I could remember something to trigger my memories like, I don’t know, my name; it’s likely I would start remembering things pretty quickly. I have been warned that it might be distressing, having all those memories all at once. I guess I won’t know till it happens, but it can’t be worse than this. I have tried and tried to remember something, anything, about my life and my past but I just can’t. I am nobody: no age, no family, no friends, no home address, no job, nothing. All those unknown things, all outside of my reach because I don’t know what my name is. I’ll never underestimate my name again. I will cherish it and wear it with pride, even if my name happens to be something silly, like Ivor Biggen or Reginald Rumplebottom. It’s better than having no name at all. It’s like I don’t exist, like I am a ghost, observing the world but not being able to live in it because I don’t know my place.
The doctor says someone is coming to see me shortly. He didn’t say who, but said he was hoping they would be able to help me find my name in this mushed up brain of mine. It’s probably a psychiatrist or hypnotherapist or something. Maybe they will dig my name out of my unconscious and give it back to me. Maybe it will be written on a shiny plaque. That might be nice. Oh, they are here. It’s a woman. A rather attractive woman if I may say so myself. I like her already. Wait, that perfume. I recognise that smell. My wife wears that….. Julie.
“Julie? Is that you?”
I start to cry as I regain precious memories of my life with Julie. The day we met, our first kiss, my proposal, our wedding, the birth of our first child… I’m a daddy! To some, two, I think, my name is Daddy. It’s too much, far too much to take in one go. Leave me be for a while. Please. I need some time to….process.
* * *
My name is Graham Henderson. This is my wife Julie. I got my memories back when she came to see me in hospital eight days ago. My birthday is August 23rd, 1980. I am thirty-three years old, and I am a mechanical engineer. My wife and I have been married for six years and have a four year old son and two one year old twin daughters. Their names are James, Lily and Rose. I can’t wait to see them. I remember them now, but the memories are hazy. I want to see them. I want to be sure that they are real. I want to be sure that I am who I think I am. The doctors are happy with my progress. My stitches are healing nicely and my bruises have faded to a pale yellow. I should be going home this weekend. The first thing I am going to do is sew my name into every single item of clothing I own. I never want to go through that again. When I caught the scent of Julie’s perfume (one I first bought for her) it was overwhelming. At first it was just a name. Julie. Then I was assailed with memories all at once of everything, relating to Julie. After that, my regained memories triggered more and more. Just like that, within two days, I knew who I was. I couldn’t speak at first, it was just too much. I am man enough to admit I cried like a baby, quite a bit. It was frightening, and upsetting. I relived the loss of my father, my older brother, and our first baby when my wife miscarried at four months. That’s a lot of grief in a very shortspace of time. It wasn’t all bad though. I found I have a younger brother, and he has a wife who is expecting. That news seems somehow even more exciting the second time around. I also have a baby sister who has just been accepted to her first choice university.
My name is Graham Henderson which means I am also a husband, daddy, uncle, colleague and friend. You may think a name is just a name. It’s not. Your name contains your entire life within it. Your name is not just what you are called, it is who you are.