Is This My Twilight Zone?
October 12, 2013
In my phone call with my buddy this afternoon I realized that I could compare the events of last night to an episode of "The Twilight Zone" where what appears normal becomes an eery travel into the unexpected, the unknown and even the unrecognizable. You wonder where you are and how you got there and how you can get back to "normal".
You see, I had committed last week to attending a weekend of events for our 45th high school reunion and was on my way yesterday morning with my sweet husband of four years. The weather could not have been more perfect and the setting was serene, straight out of the old south with tall magnolias and giant live oaks dripping in moss and framing our quaint hotel.
Bill and I registered at the hotel office and carried our luggage into our room. We then proceeded to the reunion registration room on site at the hotel. I had within me some understandings ahead of time. I understood that I had only attended the high school sixteen months and would not remember others like my classmates who had been together since Kindergarten. I understood that after forty-five years we would no longer look like the 17 year olds we once were. I understood that our minds would struggle with connecting the person we were talking to with our memories. I felt comfortable with all that because I knew we would all be experiencing those uncomfortable social moments. What we shared was long lives and experiences that had brought us back together to meet anew and to honor the memories of those who have passed away. I was there to meet face to face with a half dozen "new" friends that I have come closer to in this walk in faith and to "check on" those who have had major medical challenges this year and were commited to be with us. I had my Bill to lean on and to share conversation with and felt confident in who I was.
The train wreck inside my mind occured with a collision of moments that seemed to pile on each other like the crumpled cars of a passenger train. As others arrived I began seeing those faces I could not connect to anyone whom I remembered from high school and softly reassured myself that it was well worth the challenge. I had a chance to hug and laugh with a few of my "new" friends and to sit with my friend, Pat, from high school who quickly began whispering names and information to me as we shared a bite to eat. "That's "so and so", you remember! He is now a mayor." Her moment by moment, person by person commentary was a life line that helped give me confidence that I could get through the evening leading to a relaxing fun weekend.
And then the brakes began squealing within me. She pointed out a smiling, laughing lady and told me her name and I acknowledged that I did remember her from school and had a flash back of her dressed in a cheerleader uniform. Ah, got it! I thought. Then she pointed out a lady all the way across the room and said. That's ------! You were friends! You know! Then the wreck inside my memory....! I stared at that lady like I was a stalker in the night. She look back at me to see who was the perverted brain rudely glaring at her. All the while, my mind is running through gigabites of jumbled damaged memories and I've got "NOTHING!" How could the lady who I vaguely remember not trigger a single memory? That's when my heart started racing and then began pounding to get out of my chest. My breathing became labored and my throat began closing up. I felt the walls closing in on me. Pat had left the table to talk to others and I asked Bill to get me out to the poolside area.
That made a huge difference for me. I was able to step away from the train wreck and to finally get a few deep breaths and slow my racing mind. I asked him to take me back to our room and that's when the decision to end the weekend began forming in my mind. I had always understood that others would not recognize me but I did not expect my own mind to betray me and leave me without my own memories.
That's when I asked the obvious question out loud. "If they do not know me and I do not know them, then why I am here?" Why would I attend three more planned events to set myself up for more challenging moments and potential train wrecks? Was I willing to risk another panic attack or bringing on a seizure to keep from disappointing those who had asked me to come?
My seizures have left my memory with tiny holes in it like slices of baby Swiss cheese. I cannot count on my own mind to get me through situations which require remembering anything in my past beyond last week. So the best I could do in this moment in the "Twilight Zone" was to remove myself and to spend time gathering my scattered thoughts. I am still not completely at peace with how it all happened and why I seem so lost, but I have one thing that remains certain with me. My commitment to morning devotions will return with in the morning. My focus will be on asking God to return my sense of peace and a better understanding.
I share all these private, vulnerable moments in my life with you in hopes they make a positive difference in your life. Life taught me a new lesson. It does that sometimes. While I am extremely grateful to each person who worked so hard to make a perfect reunion weekend, it was not an event I could handle. I am so willing to help others in their struggles in life. Now, I readily admit, I have my own. I like to tell myself that I am solid as a rock, but life teaches me differently. It has taught me that even in those unexpected times of confusion and turmoil, God remains solid and strong, all powerful. My world may have been rocking and crashing, but God did not flinch. A voice inside my panicked thoughts told me to go and walk outside. My thoughts this morning were telling me to begin accepting what had happened and to return to slowly return to place of peace. That is what I offer to you. If you are troubled, decide to find a place of less turmoil and work toward that place of peace. Our focus in this life is not on what others think of us or whether or not we fit in with what is going on around us. The center of our life is Christ.... always. Focus on His love and His strength. Whatever challenges life toss us at us, the reassurance is this. We will be fine.
On my way northward on I-95 this morning I text my buddy and said, "We are fine." I was fine. I was not at a place of understanding and peace, yet, but I knew I was fine. I knew I had made the right decision based on what had happened. I had made the best choice and was on my way home to a place of comfort and peace.
I do plan to return to the little town where I graduated from high school. I would love to share a meal with the folks I have reintroduced myself to over the past year or so. I love so many things about my "new" friends. My mind connects to their faces and I know something about who they are now and what is important to them. I value the friendships I have made since the far distant days of high school. Lesson learned...peace returned. For me, the past is a silent fog. My focus is today. God has all my tomorrows.
Dear Heavenly Father,
You walk with us in our daily lives through the close relationship we have in Christ. When we find ourselves in turmoil and feel out of control, you remain steady and strong. Thank you for whispering words of peace and comfort and understanding and directing me to a place of comfort and peace. Not all days are easy. But I can find my way through them with Christ who is my strength.
In Jesus' Name,