"For my friend with dementia......"
What was I, a throwback to another age or a sign of what was to come?
Perhaps I brought all this on myself by staying away from the others, by hiding in my room and dealing with my own struggles rather than being a part of everyone and everything else.
Maybe this is a punishment or perhaps it was justified karma?
The process started just like it did when I began to lose my hair. I had looked in the mirror one day and there was a freckle on my head that I had not remembered seeing before. It wasn’t that it had suddenly presented itself but that the hair had begun to fall away and expose it. It said ‘things are changing’ but I also remember walking away from the mirror and telling myself I would leave that thought for another time. Yet delay doesn’t keep change at bay, you should know that by now. We should all know that by now.
It was snowing the first time I noticed, really noticed that is. I thought that the reflected light from the outside had somehow diluted my skin and that the usual healthy glow was there to be rediscovered in a warmer light. But alas it wasn’t - the paleness was me.
I sneaked into her room and stole some of the powder that she kept on her bed-side table. It shimmered a rusty brown colour that made my face look as if I were whole again. I was me, once more, and apart from the odd comment about how well I was looking, no one noticed nor cared.
By the second week, my pallor had grown fainter still, so I searched the room for that lotion that gave the glow of a healthy sun tan. This, I spread over all my body, my hands, my feet and my head. Whenever I left the house people would stare at me, and rightly so, it was the cold depth of winter and I looked orange. Better they stare at my orange-ness than what I had become.
There was no sense to any of this but denial does not stop the illness nor does it ward off the disease. This thing wasn’t just happening to me, it had become me. I was defined by it and would soon be known by it.
By the end of the second week I lifted my hand to stop the sun blinding me and it had little effect.
By the middle of week three, I could no longer deny its existence, I was ill and it showed. Friends tried not to stare at it but in the end couldn’t help themselves. As I walked towards some colleagues I heard them mention ‘tracing paper boy’ and I knew immediately they meant me. I had become a joke. If not me, what would have I made of the situation? Would I have wanted to work with a freak? Would I have been his confidant? Or rejected him?
Three days later and I could no longer see my hands, two days after that my arms went the same way. My family tried to make life continue as if everything was normal but I could see the sadness in my brother’s eyes as he watched me disappear.
By the start of week five people would only know me by my shadows.
You cannot see me anymore as I am not there, but once in a while you may catch a movement from the corner of your eye.
That is me. Think of me.