Dear Mr. Pratchett,
On discovering the release of Unseen Academicals, as in the past, I indulged myself in all manner Discworld! I jumped first to your Wikipedia entry, where I learned with deep sadness of the progression of your disease. I continued, and read about your address to The Lords. Then on to your personal plea. My chin crumpled: I couldn't finish it.
I write because I feel I can relate: Alzeimher's claimed my grandmother, Monica: a lady who always spoke kindly, who gave much and asked for little, and who quoted Shakespeare so fluently you could have sworn she wrote it herself!
She was diagnosed in my early teens. As I began to find myself, she went in the opposite direction: she gradually lost that which she held most dear. With deep regret, I reached a point where I could no longer bear her presence. My family spent many a waking hour by her side, clinging desperately to memories that surfaced, no matter how obscure. Shamefully, I rarely saw her, except for the occasional outing.
A few years ago, she finally, and mercifully, passed. Before she drew her last breath, I held her hand in mine, and I imagined some part of her recalled the emotional familiarity of her grandson. It gave me comfort, no matter how irrational.
All that remains of Monica is a tombstone -- "My beloved to me, and I to him ... till the day break, and the shadows retire." (Song of Solomon, 4:6) -- and a small collection of photos, letters and effects, along with dying memories embodied by her descendants.
You, on the other hand, have put yourself to paper and the world is much better for it! You have helped me through my darkest days of adolescence, shown me wisdom I never knew existed and, most of all, consoled my soul through your intellect.
You once inscribed a book for my sister: "To Donogh, Go Postal!" I could never condemn one of my few idols -- living or dead -- but I will take great comfort in knowing you had the courage of your convictions. Terry, by all means, when you feel the time is right: go postal! I will mourn your passing much like my grandmother's, but will continue to read and praise your work until my last breath.
Sincerely and respectfully,
Your friend in writing,