Today I found my friend Muriel. Actually, I found one of her daughters thanks to my membership in Linkedin, a website for professional contacts. I left her a message at her work, and heard back within minutes. We talked a bit about how hard it had been for me to find her—a change in her email provider from AOL to gmail was what tripped me up. Then I asked about her mother. I closed my eyes and held my breath as I waited for her answer.
Muriel is alive, she told me. She will be celebrating her 85th birthday at the end of this month. But her life is not great. She is in the early stages of dementia and has poor short-term memory. She is living on her own in the assisted-living complex where she had lived with her husband. But it is only a matter of time until she is unable to live that way.
Her children have a plan, and she will have good care as long as she needs it. She is fighting against getting more help, even though she is aware of her problem. Without her husband, it seems, she is losing the will to carry on.
But her daughter assures me that Muriel is still beautiful and still has her marvelous sense of humor. Although she was always petite, she is even smaller now. It is so hard for me to picture a diminished version of this person who was so important to me for so long.
I asked if there was some way I could see her and if she might remember me. Yes, I was told, she would remember me—it is the short-term memory that is seeping away.
Perhaps one day her daughter will take me to see Muriel, and we will take her out to lunch. I think I would like that.
Yet I know it will be hard.