Wednesday, July 27, 2011

In memoriam.

Yesterday, July 26, was the anniversary of the loss of my friend, Ajeet Singh Matharu.  As many will remember, he was a classmate of mine in India and was killed in a traffic accident on the way to school one morning.  It was a devastating loss to the whole group and, as these things unfortunately do, brought us all much closer together.

Yesterday, July 26, there was another loss.  Marvin.  Many of you know I worked as an aide for a severely autistic teenager when I lived in Pennsylvania.  I lived with the family, including Marvin, the grandfather, who had Alzheimer's.  When I first got there, Marvin and I would go on dates.  We'd go to dinner, to the movies, and I'd drive (of course).  After about 1 1/2 years, the outings became too stressful for him - he knew I was familiar, but didn't really know who I was or where we were.  I would hold his hand to help him stay calm when he was stressed.  I would help him order in restaurants, pointing him towards things that I knew he liked, before he forgot what he liked.  He would always tell me stories.  About living abroad, painting in the great cities of Europe, etc.  Towards the end of our dating, he started telling me stories about myself - about this nice girl who took him out for nights on the town and how much he thought I'd like her.  It was funny and sad.  In the months before I left, his language degenerated - he lost many of his content words to the disease, leaving mostly function words.  Getting him coffee became an exercise in pantomime.  I already missed him.  I had more of a relationship with him than I had with my own grandfathers.  I've thought of him often, and today I miss him.

I think the moral of this story is that it's not safe to be my friend on July 26th.  Be ye warned.

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