I remember when. I remember when, I had one. A memory. I think. I remember when simple tests didn’t hurt my brain. When I didn’t feel like I just took the SAT after listing as many animals as I can in a minute. I score in the first percentile on that one. That is last place. If you can’t be the best, be the absolute worst. They say that I should not be able to access these words. To put “this” in front of “that”. To know what “this” is. That I’m continually replacing words as I go. That I really don’t know, what I’m writing.
But I know that I was not born this way. I have a brain tumor. A mass. It has mass. It takes up volume. I have had an open craniotomy twice. That is when they saw the top of your skull open. Two inches of brain matter was scooped out like ice cream. I love ice cream. The emptiness is not easy to look at. I know because I can see the shape of my brain on MRIs that I take as often as I need them. The more MRIs I have, the more I’m treated. Again. And again. Chemo for one year. Radiation for 33 doses with a skin tight mask. Strapped to a table. That should last. Chemo again. Please, never again.
And now I’m changed. My brain does not like its left side anymore. And I’m a lefty. Like Obama. Like Clinton. Maybe even Lincoln. Shit. I could have been President. I used my left hand to draw. That was what I did before the first surgery. I was a painter. Of paintings, not walls. During the first surgery, they removed good brain which opened up space for bad brain to grow. That mistake might have saved my life. I did not get too upset you see. Because of my lack of memory. The second craniotomy got the guts of the tumor but they could not scoop out the rest. It is like a game of pick up sticks in there. Red sticks and blue sticks. All scrambled together. Pick up blue and move some red. Make me bleed. Induce more seizures.
But I did not know things would go away. That objects would disappear before me. That conversations would be forgotten. Had already been forgotten. What did you say? So when I hear poets recite their work and reach deeply into their souls into their memory, I think of my new found love of poetry. For this is what my brain does now since I can’t draw. I draw with words. Paint with verse. Describe my joys and misery. Often times taking on another viewpoint to develop empathy. To help fight apathy. To remember when, I had a memory. Thanks for the memories.