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Opinion: Early dementia makes friend’s birthday bittersweet

On July 23 my best friend Maria will turn 73. She won’t know it’s her birthday as she suffers from early onset dementia.
In the summer of 2005 as I was preparing to move to Vermont, I was diagnosed for the second time with breast cancer. I had already sold my house and had to be out in six weeks, the surgery was in three weeks and I had barely begun to pack.
Maria was a trooper. She came every day and we worked through labeling — Vermont apartment, Vermont storage, Julian, selling and donating. Since I had sold my home for an unbelievable amount I asked her what she wanted to do. She said she had always wanted to go to the Westminster Dog Show. And so we did. Three days in New York, a Broadway show, Westminster and then flew up here for a week so she could see my home here in Vermont.
She was supposed to come back in September 2007 but when I called her in late August, she didn’t remember she was coming. In the early years we could catch up on the phone but that too has been gone for many years.
Happy birthday, Maria.
Diana Cotter
Middlebury

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