It’s an unforgettable love story.
After suffering a severe head injury from a car accident at age 9, followed by a separate brain injury and several unrelated concussions as an adult, Nesh Pillay, now 32, recently woke up from a nap in a state of complete confession.
She’d lost a major portion of her memory owing to the consecutive brain traumas. And the amnesia depleted her entire recollection of her boyfriend of 18 months, Johannes Jakope.
“I was so confused about who he was,” confessed Pillay, a mother of one from Toronto, to Caters. “I often thought he was an Uber driver or someone that had been hired to help.”
She’s documented her memory-recovery journey on TikTok.
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Clips featuring her struggle to remember Jakope, 33 — who has dutifully helped nurse her back to health and worked to restore their interrupted love — have gone viral, raking in upwards of 3 million views.
Online audiences have likened their relationship to romantic blockbusters such as “50 First Dates,” and “The Vow.” In both films, leading ladies Drew Barrymore and Rachel McAdams, respectively, navigate the perplexities of memory loss while their love interests fight to reestablish an intimate connection.
But for Pillay, falling in love with Jakope, who’s now her fiancé, didn’t come with Hollywood-like glitz and glamor.
“It was a really difficult thing to get through,” she said to Caters, noting the strain her injuries have had on their relationship.
“[Johannes] has been so patient with me throughout my entire recovery,” Pillay added. “His constant love and support throughout this time have culminated in me falling in love with him again, and our engagement.”
Following her amnesia diagnosis, Jakope took an extended leave of absence from his job in order to care for Pillay. And she’s grateful to have his gentle attentiveness throughout her healing process.
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“He’s always respected my boundaries, way before my memory loss, and he has been the same during my recovery,” she said, lamenting the toll her health issues have taken on Jakope’s emotions.
“I don’t think that he has fully sorted through all his feelings yet,” Pillay continued, in part. “He was also afraid that I’d never ‘come back’ to him.”
And there’s a high chance that she won’t ever fully return to the woman she was prior to the amnesia.
But, that grim probability aside, Pillay says she’s happily adjusting to her “new normal,” and is thrilled to be marrying the man who’s won her heart twice.
“I’m still recovering from the concussion itself so I haven’t resumed normal activities just yet. I still battle headaches, vomiting, and body tremors,” she admitted, adding that full rehabilitation could take years.
But it seems as long as Jakope is by her side, Pillay is optimistic about her future — come what may.
“I don’t remember everything about our relationship before, or any minor details,” she conceded, but I remember that he’s my partner and I am so grateful to have him in my life.”
“This whole journey has confirmed for me that this is someone that I want to spend the rest of my life with.”