I have come into possession of one of the souvenirs of aging: a seven chambered pill box, each chamber with its own lid marked with a letter for a day of the week. I appreciate that the makers of my pillbox acknowledge that the issue is memory not cognition because they do not hesitate to mark both Tuesday and Thursday each with just a “T.”
On Sunday I put two pills in each chamber; that way during the week I will know whether I have taken my pills or not. This concise device engages at once my deteriorating health and memory. But it is also a calendar on which I mark off the days, like opening the doors of an advent calendar anticipating Christmas, only in this case I will open the last door and then I’ll die. In a sense it is like the first advent, waiting for the big event, but unsure of when it will happen. When I was young, the days would drag until Christmas, but as I open these doors the weeks go by quickly. The practice forces me to mark off the days and weeks, reminds me that time is passing.
As I refill the week’s supply, I think, “Didn’t I just do this?” Pill taking becomes déjà vu: as the act of taking pills everyday becomes more ingrained in my brain, it is easier for me to recall having taken the pill, whether or not I have. Each event seems like I might have done it before, but the doors tell me which I have already passed through and what has passed through me and what of me has passed.