Over coffee with a friend we stumbled over a mutual friend’s name. A name I had emailed just days before, a name of someone I know well, We moved on in the conversation, though it was driving me crazy. My fingers itched to do a quick search for him on my iPhone. I resisted, willing my brain to kick in. Still no name. And then it came to my friend – “James” she pronounced. Yes, James. We chuckled at our memory loss. Later that day the friend sent me a text “Funny about James.” And yes, for longer than I would like to admit, I had no idea who she was referring to.
I do worry that Alzheimer’s, or another form of dementia, will strike me, and that prevention and a cure are not on the horizon. I have questions about the implications of dying consciously or not. And it all scares me.
Here’s how my rumination progresses:
If I’m lucky, I’ll die very old and consciously.
If I am conscious when I die will I go gracefully?
Will I clutch to the memories of the life I am leaving?
If the Near Death Experience (NDE) research is correct, and my life will pass before my eyes will I clutch at the memories?
What If I have no memories?
Will it be easier to die without them, unconsciously?
No memories, nothing to let go of?
Will I pass without my life passing before my eyes?
Is that a good thing?
All this places smack in the territory of “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Do memories exist if they are not perceived? Incessant google searches inform me that no one can answer these epistemological queries. And so, I am left, still searching.