I'll stress what I stressed before, when I wrote my plea for others to help her via Project Download: her doctors believe Erin can get those memories back. They're hopeful for her full recovery. And Erin's friends are keeping a sense of humor about the current situation: one said Erin can now read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for the first time. Again.
But the idea of 19 months of one's existence suddenly being gone...that scares me. I cannot really imagine having that gap, even temporarily. Blank calendar pages representing a period of one's life. Time folding, somewhat like the tesseract in A Wrinkle In Time, and suddenly leaving you here without being able to see how you got from there. The books read in that time...the news absorbed...the ups and downs of you and your friends' intertwined lives...the walks and rides and journeys you went on...all behind a curtain that you can't see, that you may not even know is there.
I'm the grandson of two people who had dementia and memory loss. I'm at hereditary risk for that eventually, possibly, happening to me. And I'm already bothered by that, even decades before it's a true threat. And Erin's current situation brings that into sharper relief.
It certainly makes my urge to blog more urgent. I just checked; Erin's had her personal LiveJournal account since late last July. Less than six months of her current memory gap. Still, I hope that what she has there may help with her re-remembering that time in her life. I don't know how memory works. I don't know what will be done to help her restore and strengthen the connections between how she is now and how she was then. But I'll hope what can be done, will be.
I baby-stepped onto LiveJournal on September 22nd, 2004, and next posted on Sept. 26th; eventually it grew to be a close-to-daily habit, and the major way I communicate with family and friends. I've been happily surprised by the people who've turned out to be reading my words. I'm stunned at the number of people I would not have known without this account.
In a way, that same sort of network, one that never would have existed without the Web, will help Erin. I'm certain that when she can, she'll be looking through her personal LJ and through the Project Erin friend-groups -- yes, there are more than those I've listed -- and getting back in touch with the people who've become her acquaintances, and her friends, and her supporters, in that time.
This is a little weird: Erin and I had spoken online about meeting in person sometime, at a coffee shop somewhere, and one time I made sure to link her to images of myself online, as one more sign I was flesh-and-blood and on the level. (I also wouldn't be surprised if we had passed each other in my hospital's halls, or ridden the same buses to and from campus.) With her latest bad episode, that suddenly becomes A) very unlikely, at least for now, and B) really a low priority. She has 19 months of memories to recover (to rebuild?); I've been there as an online presence in her life for a tiny chunk of those 19 months. I want her to get better; I worry I'd confuse her. In a way, this is a beginning...and, to quote Dune, "a beginning is a very delicate time."
So. Keep downloading when you can, and keep hoping that Erin is treated gently. She needs that; she deserves that. And she deserves to get better.