In "A Christmas Memory," what happens to Buddy's friend?

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After Buddy is sent away to school, the elderly cousin he bonded with continues on a few more years. She writes letters to Buddy in which she encloses a dime for the movies. Queenie is kicked by a horse and dies, so Buddy's cousin is all alone. She continues to make fruitcakes to send as Christmas presents and always sends one to Buddy. However, the number of fruitcakes she bakes declines.

Eventually, her memory begins to go, and she starts to confuse Buddy with the Buddy who was her friend in the 1880s (the story is set in the 1930s). She begins to physically decline and has more days than ever that she has to stay in bed. Finally, Buddy gets the news that she has died. However, he had already sensed she was gone. He writes,

A message saying so merely confirms a piece of news some secret vein had already received, severing from me an irreplaceable part of myself, letting it loose like a kite on a broken string.

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Buddy is seven at the time of his memorable Christmas, and his friend is already "quite elderly".  He says that that the Christmas he describes is their last together. Buddy is sent away to military school after that, and the two correspond for awhile, and every Christmas his friend sends him a fruitcake, to keep up their holiday tradition.  As time passes, his friend becomes increasingly infirm with age.  One day Buddy receives a message saying she died, but for him this is not surprising news - somehow, through the connection they shared, he already knew of her passing in his heart.

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