Mark started attending a support group for carers of dementia sufferers about a year after Ann was diagnosed. Ann had gone to the first meeting with him, but she was very uncomfortable. Listening to people describe the types of behaviour they were dealing with left her feeling terrified and guilty. Terrified because this was a picture of where she was headed. Guilty because these people were going through hell directly as a result of their D.D. (their nickname for a dementia dependent). She was Mark’s D.D. She was and would be the cause of his suffering. She didn’t have to feign illness; she felt sick to her stomach. They left 30 minutes early. But she encouraged Mark to continue attending. “You will need people who un . . . know. You need support. Please, go!”

Mark agreed to go only if Ann would ask Luke to come for a visit at the same time. “I’d be happier knowing that you’ll have someone to talk to.”

Until I can’t talk anymore, she thought, but smiled and agreed. It would be nice to have regular time with Luke.

So Tuesday nights became “Support Night.” Luke would arrive just before Mark left. Each visit Luke would bring something special. One week it was homemade chocolate chip cookies. The next it was a new CD. Once he brought a sketch pad and coloured pencils. The two of them sat drawing and talking.

Ann and Luke met at college. She was a sophomore doing her undergraduate work toward her education degree. One Thursday in the Student Union at a Bible study, a tall, intense-looking student challenged the leader’s interpretation of a scripture passage. He did so in a respectful way, but made it clear that he disagreed. Ann admired his boldness and self-confidence. However, she actually agreed with the leader. After the meeting she approached the mouthy scholar. “You certainly have some strong opinions about St Paul. Are you a Poli-Sci major?

He stopped shoving books into his backpack and looked right into her eyes with a genuine grin. “Poli-Sci?”

“You debate like a politician.”

“Woah! I am not sure it that is a compliment or an insult.” He smiled more broadly. “I am actually a philosophy major. Now — let me guess . . .” He put his hands on his hips and looked Ann up and down. “Hmmm. You have the poise of a dancer. Dance. No — no– give me a minute. Ah, I know! Underwater basket weaving!”  They both started laughing. “I’ve got an hour or so before my next class. Would you like to grab a cup of coffee and set me straight on your major?”

Ann agreed. And so began her closest friendship ever.

Ann was amazed at the similarities in their lives. Both were only children. Both had lost their parents. Both were the first in their families to attend college. And both were Christians, although they had minor differences in their theology.

For the next three years they were inseparable. Most people assumed they were romantically involved and were surprised when Luke and Julie announced their engagement. Ann just laughed. “I wouldn’t marry Luke in a million years. It would spoil our relationship.” Ann was “best woman” at Luke’s wedding, and when she and Mark married a year later, Luke officiated. They were godparents for each others’ children. As their children were growing up they shared most major holidays and occasionally went on joint family vacations. They were more than friends, they were family, and both Mark and Julie appreciated that.

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