The noticeable forgetting -- the undeniable moment when it is recognized that this is actually happening -- is such an unsettling point, not for the person doing the forgetting, but for their loved ones. The resistance to that fundamental change is fierce.

That moment came for me over the phone. My parents had been living in Florida and I was in Chicago. I talked to my mom daily. I was writing a novel and she was always waiting for the next chapter. I made some comment about narrative details in the chapter I had read to her the day before. She said she couldn't wait to hear it. I told her I had already read it to her. I reread it; it was all new to her. That was my moment, the moment I knew something was wrong, and it left me gripped with fear.

By the time my dad had been diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer she'd ask every day what was wrong with him. She thought he had a bad chest cold. I had to retell her each time that he had cancer. She'd say, "I didn't know that."