“Clara, do you remember when I used to work there, in that building?”
“Yes,” she said quietly in the back seat. “Yes, I remember. I remember that very well.” We sailed past in a collective daze. The heat of the sun turning the air in our car into a thick liquid that was hard to speak into at a volume louder than a whisper. We all listened to the sizzling dashboard in somber reverie.
A few streets later Clara absent minded continued, “I remember lots of thing…”
I nodded silently.
“…But only when my brain wants me to remember them.”
I stopped nodding and cocked my ear towards the backseat. “Explain that, please.”
“Well,” she went on slowly. “My brain sometimes remembers things that happened a long long time ago. Mostly good things. Happy things that my brain wants to remember.” She took a hot sip of air into her lungs and thought for few long seconds. “But there are other things. Lots of things. Things that my brain doesn’t want to remember. And they just go away no matter how much I might want to remember them. I think it’s because my brain just doesn’t want them, so they are gone. They get kicked out.”
“Huh…” I said as encouragingly as possible. “That’s interesting.”
“Yes,” she agreed. “What’s more interesting is that it doesn’t matter how long ago the things were. If my brain doesn’t want to remember them I will not be able to remember them. Like, sometimes Mom will tell me to do something, and just 10 seconds later I will not have any clue what it was she told me to do. It’s just…. gone.” she shook her head down at her hands sadly.
“Unfortunately that is just how brains work,” I told her, “We just have to apologize, and do the best we can.” Then I turned up the fan on our air conditioner and rest of our drive was drown out in a rushing river of cool air that lifted our car and swept up down the road.