What happens when you wake up and have absolutely no idea about anything at all? You have no idea about things called feet, hands, people, places, walking, talking – nothing. You are not in a novel, or a movie, this is your life. It is a blank canvas with not a stroke placed upon it.
It is very hard to imagine such an event occurring, but it does, and it did to Anne Howell in 1991 after an operation on her outer brain that left her with retrograde amnesia. Who was she, who were these people, where was she; were just some of the many things she had absolutely no idea about once she returned to consciousness.
As the days rolled into weeks, into months and then years, she very slowly began to rebuild something of her former life. She found out she had a husband or partner and a small child. She also discovered the man she thought was her husband, the man she felt something deeply for, was not and the man she knew nothing about, apparently was.
They had a nice house in an affluent area, a very confused and confusing wider family and she had several really good friends. Those friends became her lifeline back to understanding her former life. The man she felt deeply for, a well-known artist, adds another layer of fascination to the life story of a woman who faced unimaginable odds and gives hope to all those facing challenges in their lives.
Anne Howell has told her story well, with truth and acceptance that is wonderful to read. She tells clearly of her struggle to make sense out of something that made no sense at all. Her mother was happily painting an unreal picture, her partner was living a life so disparate from her own that there was no common ground, and her little daughter became, once she worked out how to care for her, a real joy.
All That I Forgot has been pieced together from rediscovered segments of her former life, information from friends and family, all of which was different, medical records and as the years passed her very real life.
Even though it has taken more than thirty years in the telling, Anne Howell’s story is well worth reading as it not only lays bare the idiosyncrasies of people but also the true value of real friendship.