What if you woke up tomorrow unable to remember the life you have today?

This week, I came across a feature in The Washington Post titled, “Su 2.0” about a 45-year-old woman, Su Meck, who completely lost her memory at age 22.

In 1988, a ceiling fan fell on Meck’s head. The blow erased her memory. She awoke after a week in a coma with the mental capacity of a small child. She no longer knew her husband or her two baby sons. She barely spoke and could not read or write, walk, eat, dress or drive.

While it sounds like the plot of a morbid sci-fi romance flick, Su’s plight meant some very harrowing and real dilemmas. At the time, doctors had little hope she would regain the cognitive functions she once had, saying her brain was “like shaken Jell-O.” In her first years out of the hospital, she could not use the phone to speak to relatives because it could cause her too much confusion. Instead she wrote letters starting with “Hello Mommy” and “Dear Grandma” to relearn her penmanship, which was at a grade school level as well.

While her family considered themselves blessed to see Su wake from the coma, they faced some hard questions with painful answers. How do carry on a marriage when one person can’t even remember who the other is- let alone why you fell in love? How do you treat two young children who call you ‘Mommy’ even though you can’t remember giving birth?

It’s been two decades, but Su has now build a second life that has its own measure of joy. She saw her boys head off to college and even gave birth to a girl. This month she graduated with a degree in Music from a local college and with a 3.9 GPA.

Su was determined that starting over would not set her back. It’s an inspiring lesson that applies to all of us, even with our memories in tact. Our pasts can hold the memories dearest to us but they are no match for what’s in store.

For Su, the past was a story she couldn’t remember, but for many of us it’s something we can’t forget. It becomes a necklace strung together with pearls, diamonds and sorrow, tightly strewn across our necks. But no matter who you are, I think sometimes life hits you with a ceiling fan and the only choice you have is to start again.

Starting over doesn’t mean you’ll be behind on happiness or joy or love. It simply is an opportunity to discover it all again.

Today, claim a new start and believe it will bring new joy. Embrace yourself the second time around and live a fulfilled second life.

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