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My Best Friend

My early morning thoughts ramble higgledy-piggledy like an old woman in a nursing home. Oh, let me not grow old like that!

On Saturday I went to visit my best friend from high school. She was sitting on a chair against the wall in a line of old ladies each lost in their own world. She did not recognize me at first as I came across the room, but when I got close enough and said her name, she looked at me like a wounded stricken deer. Her face was gaunt, her brown eyes startled. She looked down at her hands. I had caught her and now she would have to endure this humiliation.

I might have felt hurt if other much stronger emotions were not coursing through me. I persuaded her to get up and come with me so we could talk in private. It was an agonizing conversation. She tried to tell me stories, but they were all like this. “We went to… (silence)… I can’t remember the name of the place.”

Everyone knows what that feels like, but imagine if every sentence was like that. The thoughts were there, but the words had been misplaced or locked themselves away.

When I moved back to my hometown five years ago, I thought we would pick up our friendship where we had left off, and that we would share our writing again. Instead, she told me she had been diagnosed with frontal lobe dementia, the same disease that my 90-year-old aunt had.

I didn’t realize then how quickly life would slip away from her, and I pray, “Let me not grow old like that.”

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