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Read It Forward: What It Means to Remember

Excerpt from Read It Forward

A Paper Airplane.
Featured Image: Getty Images/Kei Uesugi; Author Photo: Beatrice Copland

My friends and family members have always teased me for having “the memory of an elephant.” We’ll be talking about a specific day or moment, and I’ll come out with some random detail like, “Oh, yeah! That was the day you were wearing your new purple shirt” or “Remember we were late because we waited forever to grab coffee beforehand?” Usually the response is something akin to, “Huh? No, I hadn’t remembered that, actually. But now that you mention it, I guess.”

When I remember something, I see an entire scene; I remember who was there, how I felt. I remember what I heard and what was said and what it felt like to be in that moment in every sense of the word. Perhaps that’s why I love being a writer so much—my job is to basically describe how it feels and looks to be in a scene or a conversation or a particular moment, page after page.

And perhaps, too, that was part of what made it so excruciatingly difficult when my husband—the man with whom I had made so many of life’s most important memories—lost his own ability to remember.

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