For Sarah and everyone; this is the opening bit of 'I Am Mary Dunne' by Brian Moore. It is a brilliant brilliant book and it made me cry in Starbucks. Sarah, do let me know if you have trouble getting hold of a copy.
Cogito ergo sum. I close my eyes and go back sixteen years. Mother Marie-Therese writes it on the blackboard. Her arm is rolled up bare to the elbow: the sleeve of her habit is rolled up to avoid chalk dust. 'I think, therefore I am,' she says. Where the Latin was just something to translate, the English jumps and my hand is up (unlike me, that) and when Mother sees me I ask wouldn't it have been more correct for him to have said Memento ergo sum?
'Memento?' With that winter frost smile of hers.
'Yes, Mother. I remember, therefore I am.'
She sends her smile searching among the other girls in the class. But no one has a comment. As for Reverend Mother's smile, it would mean 'A silly girl has misunderstood Descartes,' or 'See how we have engaged the attention of Mary Dunne.'
'And why would you say that?' she asks me.
'Because' (I am fifteen) 'we are what we remember.'
'Interesting,' says Reverend Mother, but did she really think so? Did she remember our conversation an hour after class? I have remembered it sixteen years and now I wonder. If we are what we remember, did that girl I was die because I forgot her? As now, perhaps, I am beginning to die because some future me cannot keep me in mind.