Sometimes a few words, said by someone you love, can unintentionally bring forth the most horrid of nightmares. My mother recently mentioned to me how my brother, who is struggling with mental illness, “knows something is wrong”. It was said with no real emotion or emphasis and the conversation quickly moved on, but I have not forgotten those words.
Does my brother truly sense that something is wrong? Is he trapped in some maze fighting to find a way out, a way to correct the trajectory of his life? Are his delusions and seemingly random actions his way of trying to get back to the life he remembers? When he could pick up the guitar and play all night or talk to my mother about anything, though usually it turned to politics until 2 in the morning? Does he remember these encounters or perhaps a sense of them?
I assumed they were lost to him like his love for basketball, like his love for hiking and his love of trying to hit me with tennis balls when my back was turned. I was more at ease when I thought of him wandering in a haze, focused on his delusions and writings with no real care of the past or what was lost. One can't lose something if they don't remember losing it in the first place. But, if he does remember, the pain of that loss is something I cannot comprehend.
My tears remind me how much I love him.