Woman shares heartbreaking experience of forgetting her child but not her 'maternal instincts'
Nesh Pillay suffered from a long-term brain injury that caused sudden memory loss. A viral TikTok shares how even when she didn't remember having a daughter, she panicked over the child's well-being.
Though Pillay shares multiple aspects of her memory loss journey in her TikTok videos, a clip detailing how she forgot her own 6-year-old daughter, but not her “maternal instinct,” is going viral.
It's a poignant testament that love remains, even when memory fades.
“Last year the unthinkable happened,” Pillay began, explaining that her memory would reset every minute. She has shared in previous videos that she'd been in a car crash during childhood that was never fully examined, causing her to have several concussions and compounding brain injuries throughout her adult life.
The video goes on to show several moments where Pillay is in the hospital, seemingly after a reset, repeatedly asking if “the child” is okay. Though she doesn’t know the child in question is her own, she finds herself “in panic” over her safety.
“The fear for her well-being was so intense that I often couldn’t sleep at night,” she confesses in a voiceover as she’s seen eagerly asking if she can FaceTime with the little girl. Her loved ones in the hospital try to remind her that Sinead (Pillay's daughter) is sleeping at the moment but that they can chat in the morning.
While the video is heartbreaking to watch, Pillay notes that “the lesson is nothing—not even memory loss—can impede the love between a mother and her child.”
“Even if one day my brain fails me, she’ll always be in my heart,” she proclaims.
@pillay.nesh Making this one has me sobbing. I cant explain how scared for her I was. #concussion #invisibledisablility #traumaticbraininjury #memoryloss #motherdaughter ♬ Slipping Through My Fingers - From 'Mamma Mia!' Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - Meryl Streep & Amanda Seyfried
The video racked up a ton of comments from people showing their support, many of whom likened it to those who have dementia remembering their loved ones.
“THAT is unconditional love, not even memory loss can break it,” one person wrote.
Another added, “I work hospice. Even with Alzheimer’s I’ve seen moms who don’t remember anything/anyone but they see their adult children and go ‘that’s my person.’”
Pillay shared in a subsequent video an equally touching exchange between her and her siblings, whom she remembered only as children.
“Why are you a grown-up?” she asks her sisters, voice shaking. “You’re so beautiful. When did you grow up?”
It really is a bittersweet, yet undeniably beautiful example of love’s enduring impact.
In addition to forgetting my partner and child when I lost my memory, I was surprised to find my younger sisters grown up. Yes, they really are beautiful ❤️♬ original sound - Nesh Pillay
As for Pillay now, she tells CTV News Toronto that there’s no knowing when or if complete normalcy will ever return and that recovery is full of “good brain days” and “bad brain days.” And yet, on even the worst days, her emotional memory seems to remain intact. Even her fiancé, who Pillay first thought was her Uber driver, felt instantly safe, she recalled.
Thanks to Pillay for being open to sharing this experience. It might be of comfort and insight to those going through something similar.