The year is starting in a fury – and all norms are disrupted externally as well as internally. Today I learned what I knew but had tried to resist, that my childhood and life-long friend has rapidly advancing Alzheimer’s and I am feeling very sad, yet not as sad as she in her lucid moments.
I can’t visit – we’re preventing our neighbours from dying of Covid these days rather than suicide.
Some I know (and I mean, know online because that’s where everyone lives) are wearing a snarl turned smile, silenced and locked in and the atmosphere is toxic.
Fear forms fights, flights and frozen people, stuck in a stance driven by hormones, adrenaline and thought. Everybody hurts.
And my cleverest, brightest, smartest childhood friend isn’t quite sure what’s going on; what Covid is; what day it is; who I am and who she is. She read me the consultant’s letter on the phone – with a flourish of pride, having remembered it had arrived, found it and got through the reading without faltering. And then we cried, just before she forgot why.
This rapid cruel disease – Alzheimer’s- is not reserved for those in their nineties – and as childhood cancer thrives on growing cells, it seems – but I really know nothing at all – that when you’re bright, fit and alert, Alzheimer’s feeds on vibrant cells and multiplies – horrifies.
We met on a playing field in 1967 – our mothers thought we might get on – 11 – dressed as it happened in identical M&S spider suits, 53 years ago, and she was the brilliantly bright one.