I often think about my children.
I know, I know, it’s just the syndrome. But I do. I remember them.
I had a minor head injury, and while I was out cold, I experienced hallucinations. I know this. Logically, I know this. But those hallucinations felt real. Calling them hallucinations feels like lying.
When I came to, in my head I had lived decades. I was married, I had children – George, my eldest, him and his girlfriend were expecting their first baby – I had a whole life. And then… Back. Back in my twenties, as if none of it had ever happened. Because it hadn’t.
I feel utterly unmoored. The floor dropped out from under me. There is a hole in my chest. When I roll over at night, I reach out to where Beth should be and jerk awake when her side of the bed is empty. My wife doesn’t exist and I grieve for her every day. I get annoyed at my children for not calling to tell me how that job interview went or to just chat. And my heart has been ripped out and my chest is filled with salt.
Having to go back to work, remembering how to do a job I left decades ago using technology I can’t even remember, working with people who’s names I forgot over the years. Letting myself into that old, mouldy flat I lived in back then. Back now. I sometimes find myself absentmindedly driving home. To my real home. But obviously, it’s not there. It never was.
My therapist suggested a support group. It’s a very rare condition, but there are enough people with it to warrant a meeting. I drove for over four hours to be there.
All I wanted was to be in a room where people didn’t expect me to remember who they were dating in this one utterly ordinary month in our twenties when all I can see is their face after all of that chemo. It’s very difficult hanging out with people you’ve seen age and die.
The meeting was held at some rented office space. Could have been anywhere. I parked, only a few minutes late.
And on one of the chairs, looking nervous, sat my wife.