The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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February 1, 2013

Virginia woman pieces together 17 years lost to amnesia

(Continued)

"It was very touching," Shawnda said. "There were just so many different things that she shared with me. I mean, I guess it was six or seven hours that we sat there and talked. I truly, truly just so much enjoyed her telling me everything, and even sharing pictures, and then telling me about other co-workers that were involved in my life. . . . I didn't know that she had known so much."

Their friendship has allowed Shawnda to reclaim a small, but significant, part of what she lost when her illness struck.

I'm not scared to meet people from my past anymore. I want to know, now, and wanting to know more. I now enjoy hearing people tell me stories of the life I did not know — their funny, intriguing, oh-my-gosh moments. There still can be sad moments. I'm finding there were many people in "her" life that loved her and still love me :)

— June 6, 2012

These days, Shaylin proudly tells strangers that she's 9 years old and her mom is only 8.

"She does worry a lot when I get sick. She knows a lot — more than most children," Shawnda said. "These strengths that she has so much at an early age, I know they'll make her flourish as a young adult."

When Shaylin learned to write, she would also scribble her thoughts and feelings down in notebooks and diaries. Like her mother, Shaylin always goes just a few pages into her journal, then finds a new one and starts over on a blank white page.

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