I won’t know when it’s happened. When I’ve succumbed, finally. When my mind will slip quietly from here to, elsewhere. Will I sit unmoving as I live a pleasant life behind my unseeing eyes? Will the entreaties of my loved ones fall on deaf ears that hear only remembered words of days gone by or dreamed up in the mists of my addled mind? Will I awaken one morning and find myself alone with strangers that call me a name I don’t remember, entreat me to recall people and places that mean nothing to me, then cry when I don’t remember? Will I die in life, leaving those who love me to mourn while I still walk among them, a ghost that looks like me, emptied of all the memories made and shared, the years lived, the love given and received?
Worse still, will I have fleeting moments of lucidity? Will I have bursts of light in my darkened mind when I know that I have forgotten something, someone, very important? That what I can’t remember is causing harrowing pain? Will I briefly glimpse the world as it is, revealing my tenuous, no, nonexistent, grasp on reality? Will I reach out to caress the cheek of my beloved, glistening with tears, only to forget who and why I raised my hand toward him?
Or, worse yet, will the faces hidden in the bathroom marble and the cloudy sky, the voices that whisper in empty rooms, the shadows that move when the night is dark and moonless, become my reality? Will the face I have loved so long I know it better than my own become that of a monster? Will my nightmares wake and live, enveloping me in an endless dark night while I slumber awake, a living corpse to love and life, my face etched with terror, eyes ever turned inward to a world steeped in horror? Will I scream, trembling with fear, running from those to whom I once ran, who only wish to soothe and comfort?
I may not know when it’s happened. But, I know it will.