With a deep sense of purpose, we strolled down this long hall hand in hand, escorted by a nurse. As we got closer, I realized the depth of the disease. Our friend was in the lock-up side of the nursing home.

As we got closer to our once vibrant friend, we reached out and held his hand talking softly and clearly. As we sat with him, we noticed the twinkle for just a moment emerging, that quiet laugh that was only his as he tried to communicate.

I had a father with Alzheimer’s, but this was different. This man with a loving wife at his side was our age with early onset Alzheimer. My husband allowed tears to fall, as he recalled the times they had flown together, in the cockpit of a Super 80 jet. Not too long ago, he and I had torn up the racquetball court as we partnered together with other pilots enjoying the company and hours of sweat and laughter.

As we looked around, we noticed others in various stages of the disease knowing we could not be there for all of them. I long to reach out realizing a simple touch is what they needed. For just this moment, we stood with our arms wrapped around our friend, loving the man he is.