July 15, 2009

Heart on your sleeve

Beautiful girl

It's said that part of being a parent is wearing your heart on your sleeve. I couldn't agree more; here's an example.

I'm reading The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat.[1] On the plane I get to chapter 2, "The Lost Mariner," primarily about a man who has severe short-term memory loss and retrograde amnesia. Later he goes over stories from similar cases. One reference in particular got me thinking:

...in which a highly intelligent man was unable for some hours to remember his wife or children, to remember that he had a wife or children.

I couldn't stop thinking about such a thing happening to me permanently, and not recognizing Ella. Not remembering her growing up and all the little daily incidents that fill me with joy. And far, far worse, her realizing that I don't recognize her, how her world would fall out from under her.

This is probably a common action among parents, playing out awful scenarios where you die and think about your kid, or where you get forced off a bridge into icy water and you cannot rescue her. Or even where she's running down the sidewalk, her sandal catches on the edge of a segment and she faceplants nosefirst, coming up a bloody mess. I don't know how to stop such repetitions, or even if I should. ? Maybe it's evolutionarily necessary, keeping me on edge lookout to make sure she's safe? In any case, heart on the sleeve hurts.

[1] Highly recommended even though as of this writing I'm only halfway through it. Sacks is a great writer and is able to communicate his considerable insights to laymen like me with wonderful skill.

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