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"A tale of triumph in the search for identity."
-- Sally L. Satel, The New York Times
"A remarkable memoir."
-- Laura Miller, Salon
Imagine waking up in a bed and not knowing who you are, where you are, or how you got there. I Forgot to Remember is the story of Su Meck, who awoke in a hospital room one day in 1988 with complete retrograde amnesia, unable to remember the previous 23 years of her life. She could not recall her husband or her baby boys; she could not read or write, brush her teeth or use a fork.
Here is Su's account, written by Su in collaboration with Daniel de Visé, who introduced Su in a story on the front page of The Washington Post. I Forgot to Remember has drawn national publicity, including appearances on Today, CBS This Morning and The Diane Rehm Show and an essay in The New York Times Magazine.
They call it Hollywood amnesia. But Su Meck is real. A freak accident – she was struck on the head by a falling ceiling fan -- erased not just her memories but her habits and quirks, likes and dislikes, talents and flaws, and erased them for good.
I Forgot to Remember is a study of human identity. Are the traits that define us predestined at birth, or is the self shaped by life as it unfolds? If we are the sum of our experience, then what happens if that experience is stripped away?
It is a story of memory loss, an affliction shared by 7 million Americans, and of traumatic brain injury, an experience shared by 212,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and countless others.
It is an elegy for the subjugated housewife. How many women have awakened one day to discover that their independent lives were gone, irretrievably lost beneath mounds of soiled laundry and unwashed dishes? How many have yearned to recapture their careers, their routines, their interests, their aspirations, all the things that defined them as individuals apart from their families?
It is a story of star-crossed love. There were two great loves in Su’s life. Her accident erased all memory of the first. A quarter-century later, he returned.
It is a chronicle of fear, frustration and anger. Su lived in fear of sounding stupid, of becoming lost, of being found-out, of losing her children; in frustration for all the simple household tasks she could no longer perform; and in anger at the doctors who seemed to think the affliction was all in her head.
I Forgot to Remember is, finally, a story of inspiration and fulfillment. Twenty-five years after she started college as a precocious teen, Su Meck started again, at a community college outside Washington. Now, she is continuing her studies at Smith College, one of the nation’s premiere liberal arts schools.
"A big achievement. . . . Poignant."
-- Nancy Szokan, The Washington Post
"[A] fascinating tale of life."
-- Jerome Groopman, The New York Review of Books
"A hopeful and heart-gladdening memoir."
-- Kirkus Reviews