It has been said that we are the sum total of all that we’ve experienced. But, if we have no memory, are we less human?
What makes me “me” and you “you”? Is it how we look? What we do? What we say? But, what if we are not beautiful in the eyes of the beholder? What if we can’t do anything? What if we can’t speak? Are we, then, less human?
Gary is my friend. He is married to Dena, the love of his life, but theirs has become a journey of bitter terror, cureless medicines, and lost conversations. Over 30 years ago, radiation was used to remove a tumor from Dena’s optic nerve. Her brain compensated—for a while; then gradually Dena settled into a child-like dependence on her husband. Gary explains that with darkness comes anxious wakefulness. “If she sleeps, what more will she forget?”
Memories once shared are replaced with excruciating embarrassment. Has all that made my friend’s wife “human” been snatched away?
There are those who think so. For some, losing their memory is the death of personhood.
I do not agree. Dena’s personhood— her very identity—is not her memory. Nor is it her appearance, her health, or, for that matter, her sexuality.
Dena’s identity is this: She is a creation of God and a treasure of Jesus Christ. Dena’s identity never changes, no matter the circumstances of her life.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if we remember who we are. What matters is Whose we are. The Creator and Redeemer of our lives will never forget His own.
Nor does He forget those who are faithful in caring for His own.