As I’m doing research for my new book, I’ve had to “un-shelve” some memories from the past that have been traumatic. And one is actually the very first memory I can recall.
I know many people say you can’t remember memories from before the age of 5 years old but in my earliest memory I was 2 years old. I think the reason I remember it, in bits and pieces, is because it was frightening. When I talked to my mom about it when I was a teenager, she filled in the gaps so I would know the whole story.
In 1964, my parents went to the World’s Fair in New York City. They left me at home with relatives and I guess when they returned from their trip, I wasn’t too happy with them. My mom said that, unbeknownst to her, that I went into her purse and took 8 antibiotic pills. She found me just as I put the last one in my mouth. They immediately rushed me to the hospital.
My memory of that experience is riding in a car in my mom’s arms. The next thing I remember is telling my mom that everything would be okay as I sat on a hospital bed. I can see it in my mind to this day – very clear. I remember being scared but also feeling reassured because I was with my mom. But that is where the memory ends. It’s probably a good thing I don’t remember getting my stomach pumped!
I thought it was unusual to have such an early memory but my mom has one as well. She was burned severely on her upper arm and chest when she was two years old and remembers it vividly. Maybe we are able to remember these because there was trauma involved – just a guess.
As I continue to write this book, I’ll be writing about more memories and experiences – some good and some not so good. Maybe writing about them helps heal the past instead of tucking them away on a shelf in the mind. The best thing is that we learn from the past to create a better future.
What is your earliest memory?