While the illness struck Keller when she was very young, only 19 months old, she retained memories of her recovery. She also recalled snatches of memory from before her illness: she heard the robin's song and saw the shadows of leaves dancing on the floor.
Keller described her illness as one which "closed my eyes and ears." She remembered her mother trying to soothe her and also her eyesight growing weaker and weaker until soon she could not see at all. Her hearing also went, and she was soon encased in a world of silence and darkness. She writes that:
But, except for these fleetings memories, if, indeed, they be memories, it all seems very unreal, like a nightmare.
She says as well that she soon forgot the world of seeing and hearing, and her new world came to seem normal to her. She says she was in this lost world until Miss Sullivan came and set her "spirit free."