Authors: Katie Lee
Copyright © 2013 by Katie Lee
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First edition: August 2013
This is a work of fiction. The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.
This book is also available in print.
Cover design by Samantha Dellinger.
For Emma – Always chase your dreams.
Late March. .
"It’s really quite remarkable,’ the doctor said, his voice sounding genuinely surprised. "We never expected this. This is. . it’s really uncharted territory.”
"But the. . ." Megan’s voice faltered. She was having trouble processing what he was telling her. She had been sitting in the doctor’s office for close to an hour. Much of that time had been spent listening to the doctor explain how the brain worked and how it functioned and what they knew and what they didn’t know. But she had focused in on just a few key phrases.
Long-term memory loss.
No memories of the last 15 years.
"Ms. Williams?" the doctor prompted.
She shook her head, trying to clear it and redirected her attention toward the doctor. "I-I’m sorry. I-I. . . .I’m having trouble understanding this. . .everything."
The doctor looked at her kindly. She had gotten to know Dr. Glennon quite well in the last 4 weeks. Four weeks since she had received that life-altering call that had informed her that Jason had been involved in a serious car accident. Dr. Glennon had been there from the moment she had paced the waiting room anxiously as Jason had undergone emergency surgery, to the tireless vigil she had kept at his bedside, willing him to wake from his coma. He had finally woken up two days ago, and she had been elated. But now, after listening to Dr. Glennon explain the results of Jason’s extensive psychological, neurological and physical tests, her joy was being overshadowed by her confusion and sadness at his prognosis.
"I understand this is hard to take in," Dr. Glennon said softly.
"I just. . . .I don’t understand how he can remember his childhood but not. . ." Again she faltered. She didn’t want to sound selfish, but the question remained. How could he not remember her? Them?
"Other things?" Dr. Glennon interjected kindly, although Megan could see that he knew what she had really wanted to ask. She nodded. Dr. Glennon sighed softly. "I’m sorry. I wish I had a simple answer for that. But as I told you, the brain is vastly complex, and our understanding of it is still developing. We’ve made great strides, but we haven’t been able to understand how it all works. Especially with respect to memories and how the brain stores them."
"All our tests indicate that Jason suffered some damage to the area of the brain that controls long-term memories." Dr. Glennon continued. "His short-term memory does not appear to have been affected however, since he can remember what has happened since he awoke from his coma. That would also seem to indicate that while his long-term memories were damaged, the functional ability of his long-term memory was not. In other words, he can store new memories."
"And of course, he still retains remnants of other long-term memories, especially those from when he was very young." Dr. Glennon sighed. "We don’t know why but we suspect that the longer a memory has been stored in the brain, the more. . .durable it is. More recent memories, unfortunately, seem to have been lost."
"Seem?" Megan asked, grasping at something, anything, that could offer her a sliver of hope.
"The tests indicate that he has. . .vestiges of some recent memories. For instance, he has no recollection of the accident itself but somehow he knew he was in the hospital because he was in a car accident. Perhaps this is a remnant of his memory, or perhaps he learned that some other way." Dr. Glennon paused. "And in terms of overall brain function, that seems to be relatively undamaged. He still has the motor, language, cognitive, intellectual and reasoning abilities typical for a man of that age. As far as we can tell, the only thing impacted significantly is his long-term memory."
"And his other injuries?" she asked.
"He needs some physical therapy on his left leg which was broken in the accident, and his ribs are healing very well. He may be uncomfortable for a period of time because of that, but otherwise, physically, he’s fine." Dr. Glennon looked at her. "I know this is small comfort, but he is very lucky to be alive. To have even survived that crash."
She nodded. She knew this. When she had sat by his bedside, looking at his sleeping form, all she had wanted was for him to open his eyes. She had prayed for it. And her prayers had been answered. Jason was out of his coma and he was recovering well. She should be happy, and she was, yet there was a feeling of sadness that she just couldn’t shake.
She cleared her throat. "Um, I, uh. . .I’m not sure how to deal with this? Do I try to fill in his memories for him? Or-"
Dr. Glennon was shaking his head long before she finished her questions. "I would advise against that." He looked down. "Jason most likely will suffer from some form of post-traumatic stress disorder. His only memories are of when he was a child, and yet clearly he is no longer a child so he’s going to notice that huge gap in his memories. That will affect him significantly. Coupled with the physical injuries, his psyche has quite a lot to deal with already. If we were to try and ‘fill in’ those missing years for him, we may overwhelm him. He may feel trapped in a life he doesn’t remember or that he has to fulfill some role that he no longer knows or remembers."
"I don’t mean that he doesn’t want to remember,” Dr. Glennon continued. “But at the moment, the effort may prove too stressful for him. It could set him back in his recovery. The few amnesia cases we do know of, it has always been best to let the amnesiac either re-discover those lost memories or to simply forge new ones."
"But if he asks?"
"There’s no easy answer, I’m afraid. Obviously you shouldn’t lie to him, but if you try and fill in too much, he may rebel, thinking you are trying to color his memories of himself and of others. And if he doesn’t and accepts what you say, then he might operate under the false illusion that he is recovering the lost memories. He might become too dependent on you and others to fill in the gaps for him, instead of honestly working at his own recovery."
Dr. Glennon looked at her kindly. "The best advice I can give you is to look at this as a new start. A new beginning and go from there."
She jumped slightly at the sound of his voice right behind her. "Damn it Tyler! How many times have I told you not to sneak up on me?"
"I’m sorry,’ Tyler said, his voice gentle."I rang the doorbell and-"
"No, I’m sorry," she said, sinking down on her knees next to the moving box she had been packing. "I’m just. . ." She let the sentence trail off with a shrug.
"It’s O.K., Meg." Tyler offered her a crooked grin, his pale blue eyes full of understanding as he came over and sat down on the armchair next to her. "What’s all this?"
"I’m packing," she said, stating the obvious.
"So I see," Tyler said with a wry smile. "Why?"
She sighed and felt yet another wave of tears about to overtake her. With increasing command, she drew in quick, deep breaths until she felt the emotion pass. She had cried enough. She had cried so much in the last 4 weeks that you’d think her tear ducts would have dried out by now. "He doesn’t remember, Ty.”
Tyler blinked, surprise and concern in his eyes. "The doctor said that?"
She nodded. "We went over the test results today. The last. . .fifteen years of his life are basically lost. They’re just distant memories, if anything. He doesn’t remember any of it. High school. College. Getting into the major leagues. His life here. Me." The last word came out as a sob and this time, she was unsuccessful in stemming the tide of tears.
"Meggers." Tyler was at her side in an instant, pulling her into a comforting embrace. "It’s. . .I don’t know what to say. This is all so. . ."
"I don’t know if I can do this," she cried. "How can I pretend that what Jason and I had didn’t exist? How do I look at him without giving my feelings away? How do I handle him looking at me that way?"
"He looks at me like I’m a stranger, Ty.” Another sob escaped her lips. "You know, Jason and I have been through a lot and I handled it all. We handled it all. And we did it because underneath it all, we had our feelings for each other. That was our rock. . .our touchstone. Now we don’t even have that." She looked up at him with anguished eyes. "I went to see him the other day and for an instant, I thought he knew me, but then I realized it was just because he recognized me from my prior visit." She shook her head. “I might as well be the nurse who gives him his daily meds. Actually he might like her more. . .he has some pretty nurses.”
"Hey stop." Tyler commanded. Gently, he lifted her chin so that she was looking him in the eyes. "Now what I’m about to say has to be kept under the strictest best friends confidentiality, O.K.?" She sniffed and nodded. "Meg, I have never seen a love like yours and Jason’s before. I mean, I made no bones about how much I hated the fact that you two were together in the beginning. But over time, as I got to know him and to see you two together. . . ." He looked at her with eyes blazing conviction. "I know the love is still there. Jason may not remember it now, but that doesn’t mean he won’t remember it. You don’t just forget a love like that. And it doesn’t just go away. No matter what. Nothing so ordinary like a car crash can erase something like what you guys had." He squeezed her shoulders. “So it doesn’t matter how pretty his nurses are, or if they have Kate Upton’s body. . .they can’t compare to what you are to Jason.”
She smiled. "Since when did you become so cheesy when it came to me and Jason?"
Tyler chuckled but when he responded, he was completely serious. "Since I’ve seen how happy you make each other."
She sighed, feeling more weary than any twenty-six year old should. "I just don’t know anything anymore Ty. It’s like someone pressed the ‘Reset’ button and now I’m back at Square 1. Only difference is, I remember exactly what it was like to grow from there. No one reset my memories."
"I know, Meg, but you can do this. You have more strength and resilience in your pinky than most people have in their entire bodies.”
I wish I believed that
, she thought. But she didn’t say anything, giving Tyler a grateful smile before she resumed her packing. "So, uh, how was the trip back to Harbor Bay with Bruce and Diana? Thanks for doing that by the way."
Tyler shrugged. "No problem. I wanted to see my Mom anyway. She hated leaving so soon, but someone had to run the store."
"I understand. It meant a lot that Marie. . .actually that everyone came out here for Jason. It’s not exactly a short trip."
"And you," Tyler replied with a soft smile. "They came here for you too."
"Even Bruce?" Megan asked in a wry voice.
Tyler chuckled. "Bruce. . .I’m not too sure about."
"How is he?"
"Still in shock I think," Tyler said softly. "He thinks it’s only a matter of time before Jason is back to his usual self and playing with the Mariners again."
She sighed. She had always had a complicated relationship with Jason’s father. So had Jason. Bruce Kincaid had been a rising baseball star in college until a shoulder injury had derailed his dreams of playing in Major League Baseball. So when his son had shown prodigious skills on the baseball diamond, Bruce had taken all of his unrealized dreams and had poured them on his son. He had pushed Jason relentlessly, drilling into him that anything less than playing in the majors would mean his life was a waste. And while Jason genuinely loved the game, his father’s overbearing pressure had caused their relationship to become tumultuous.
Jason’s relationship with his father was at times cordial, even close, and other times, it was completely acrimonious and antagonistic. Bruce had viewed her relationship with Jason as a distraction. He had tolerated Megan, knowing that any outright sign of hostility would drive his son away for good. And she had been polite, if distant, with Bruce. Unfortunately with the stress of Jason’s accident, their relationship had turned antagonistic. If Jason hadn’t provided in advance for Megan to oversee his affairs in the event of his incapacitation, she had no doubt that she and Bruce would be battling it out in court right now.