It wasn't that the winter holidays weren't magical to me anymore -- they absolutely were. The neighborhood lit up as though we had been temporarily relocated into a cluster of stars.
The crisp, clean scent of freezing air and freshly fallen snow permeated my nostrils in the most delightful way.
The happiness that others felt was one of the most real phenomenons I had ever witnessed.
In 2005, I loaded my apartment with boxes of decorations. A tree that was too big for my living room, lights everywhere, garland strung up along the walls. I bought boxes of shining red and gold ornaments. I reveled in the beauty I had created.
But felt nothing.
I don't remember my life before March 2003.
It's been seven years and I still cannot remember the Christmases of my childhood.
My family is a blur to me. They've nearly given up. They send cards in the mail with pictures of me growing up in a last ditch attempt to stir something inside of my brain. I've created an album of the photographs, captioning it with what they've told me is going on.
"Your fifth birthday party. You always loved superheros."
"Do you remember prom?"
"We miss you so much. We still keep your room as it was."
I didn't see it as insensitive, only that they couldn't understand. I couldn't blame them. I didn't. I had no emotional attachment to them at all, except what i forced myself to feel out of guilt. My father sobbed as though I had died.
I suppose, to him, it must have been worse.
The story of exactly what happened is not, to me, crucial to anything. All anyone ever needs to know is that I've lost my memory. But telling it has become second nature; it is a way of letting the pain of it all release itself.
As we had every winter holiday, my family was visiting my grandparents in Minnesota. My mother added "the coldest place I've ever been" to her telling of the tale.
Around dusk, I was skating on the pond behind the house. I apparently was very fond of this activity. I ventured to the middle and hit a patch of thin ice. It broke, I fell backwards, hitting the back of my head on the surface before slipping into the water.
Sometimes I dream about this part, always grateful to awake and realize I don't actually remember it happening.
Between the head injury, the temperature of the water, and being underneath for nearly a minute, I was lucky I didn't die.
I was in a coma for a month.
I woke up and couldn't remember a god damn thing.
"Charlie, honey!" was the first thing I heard from the woman who squeezed my hand, and stared at me through great, never-ending tears.
Two years and several trials, tests, doctors, and an immeasurable amount of heartache later, I moved out of my parents' house and into the city. Shortly afterwards, the phone calls stopped and the mail began.
I had given up on myself long before they did.
I have more of this, and intend to take it further, but wanted to keep each installment relatively short.
It gets cheerier. Eventually.