The memory may go, but God won’t forget you. CNS photo/MaxPixel via Wikimedia Commons

Remember God never forgets you

By  Harry McAvoy
  • November 18, 2022

I intended to write this article about an experience I recently had while in Cincinnati. As is my custom, I went to a local parish, that has an Adoration Chapel, to spend a bit of quiet time with Jesus.

When I entered the chapel, I noticed a young woman, and I smiled at her as I moved to a kneeler. After a moment she quietly whispered, “Don’t worry if I cry. Bad things have been happening in my life. Please forgive my tears.” 

I was slow to respond as I hadn’t expected to encounter a broken heart. As she quietly shed her tears, I assured her of my prayers, and I tried to commiserate by mentioning my own suffering associated with memory loss. We spoke back and forth for a few minutes and concluded by agreeing to pray for each other. When I got back to my sister-in-law’s, I typed a few notes into my laptop because I wanted to remember, and knew I would forget.

A few weeks ago, while searching for an unrelated file in my computer, I noticed the document titled “Lisa.” Oh, yes, the young women from Cincinnati. I had misfiled my notes, and then forgotten about them.

Today, when I wanted to open the Lisa document, I discovered there were no notes. I must have created the new file, forgot to transfer my notes and then deleted the original. It was disappointing because I realized that if I wanted to write about meeting Lisa, it would have to be from memory, and as I know too well, such memories are often already gone.  

Given that I now remember so little about Lisa and her story, I decided to repurpose this article to provide a glimpse into the world of memory loss.  What at one time was so compelling is now easily forgotten.  As much as I wanted to get back to Lisa in the Adoration Chapel in Cincinnati, I must accept, back there is no longer available. And oh how it hurts.

But what do you do with this?  To dwell is dangerous. It is so easy to slip into the land of deep sadness.

With God’s help, I accept that some days include the frightening and the awful, and some days come with scary lapses, which I call missing pieces. Through prayer and the practice of my faith, I remain mindful that even bad days also include grandchildren to hug, holding hands with Jennifer, my bride of 38 years, and the opportunity to reflect on the many ways God has blessed our lives.  

It is my hope and prayer that for as long as possible my writing will continue to encourage others who suffer, and the loved ones who accompany them. Like a correspondent who goes to places they don’t want to go, I don’t want to be where I am now. Instead, I want to get back home where it was safe and my day to day flowed, where I was husband and father, with occasional bumps, but I at least remembered the stuff of yesterday. 

I can’t quite get back because memory loss has taken what was mine. I am in a new place, fortunately not by myself, as I am blessed to have loved ones who journey with me, but alone in the sense that what is, isn’t for long, because it goes away too quickly.   

I sometimes ponder the unimaginable: what if I get to the point where I can no longer remember even God? How would I continue this journey if I no longer yearned for Heaven because I’ve forgotten that it exists? Such thoughts are enough to make a grown man cry. It is too horrible.  

As I try to communicate what is in my mind and heart, a consoling thought nudges fear. It is simply this: because God is all good, loving and powerful, God will find a way to always be there. Even if I should get to a point where I no longer remember who God is, I trust God won’t forget me.

(Harry McAvoy is co-author with his wife, Jennifer, of the book Faith, Love and Loss; Sustaining Hope amid Memory Loss and the Storms of Life, published by Novalis.) 

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.