I was blind to the way his strong hands began to tremble as he reached for things. Deaf to the way he insisted his words were beginning to run at the edges as they came off his tongue. I shrugged and insisted that he sounded the same as ever to me. I watched him start suffering from excruciating muscle pain and ignored the grimaces he tried to hide, as I knew they would pass within a matter of moments if I were patient and politely pretended not to notice. Over the past few months, I trivialized the strange, ominous cough that crept into his core and began a daily assault on the the natural rise and fall of his chest.
I just ignored it all. I simply refused to acknowledge the strange, dark shadow in his presence for months. Some friend I am.
However, ignorance is a luxury I no longer possess now that I know its name. It has made itself officially known after a cruel, rude introduction, and the people who speak for it have made a grim promise that it will erase my friend from my world, perhaps within a matter of months, as there is no known cure. The same people sent him back out into the world alone with this shadow trailing behind him and told him to live as he did before. He isn't even 40 years old. I can't imagine watching him die slowly in front of my eyes. My brain throbs. My heart is split in two yet again.
No. No. No.
I wish to God I didn't see it. That I had never heard it. I want to hide my face behind my hands and periodically peek at it from behind my fingers like a child, hoping that it will disappear.
I wish to God I didn't know its name.
But I do.
Lou Gehrig's disease.