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News of Pat Summitt’s death this morning did not startle or surprise. Her life journey stands before us as a witness to many things: determination, goals, athletics, life lessons. Her death reminds me of another friend with Alzheimer’s disease who was 52 when the disease was diagnosed. We are learning more about this neurodegenerative disease, but still have much to learn about its risk factors or cause. At best we manage the disease and pray for a cure.

One of my writing projects concerns a man who experienced trauma and went into a catatonic state for twenty years. As I’ve worked on this project, I’ve tried to project what may have gone on behind the blank facial expressions. I’m not a medical doctor or medical researcher. I can only project my own imagined scenes.

And together these connections remind me of the haunting tune by Michel Legrand known as “Les moulins de mon cœur.” The writing team of Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman wrote lyrics we know as “The Windmills of the Mind.” These words come now to mind:

Like a tunnel that you follow
To a tunnel of its own
Down a hollow to a cavern
Where the sun has never shone
Like a door that keeps revolving
In a half-forgotten dream

Is this song descriptive of the Alzheimer’s experience? So many different versions of the disease among those I have known.

And with each person I grieve what we have lost.