I want the original please.


Jim and I celebrating New Year's Eve in Las Vegas, 1998.

Jim and I celebrating New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas, 1998.

Jim told me something last week that has really stuck with me. It has bothered me. It has confused me. It has just really befuzzled me.

“I need to find you another husband.”

Yes, he actually said those words. Both kids were gone and we had been able to spend more time together, just the two of us. Working on Frances’ room, going out to dinner, driving to and from the NIH. Talking. We haven’t done much of that lately. We still didn’t do as much as we would have 5 years ago, but we talked more than usual.

I didn’t know what to say to him. What an unselfish thought. But at the same time, Wow!

Let me be very clear. I don’t want another husband. I knew I was going to marry Jim after our first date. He knew the same. We have worked hard to stay together for 16 years. It hasn’t always been easy and there have been times we have both wanted to call it quits. But we fought hard to keep each other. Personally, I think Jim fought harder. He was 35 when we got married and was more mature and ready to be a husband and provider. I was still working on who I am (actually, I still think that) and what I wanted out of life,  figuring out how to be a wife and keep my identity. Jim has the patience of a saint. He accepted my growing pains and loved me more. He waited patiently while I circled around our life together being the independent, hardheaded woman I am. And he loved me even more.

We fought. We cried. We yelled. We whispered. We wrote letters. We went to marriage counseling. We travelled. We supported each other. We opened up to each other and kept secrets and confidence. We scrimped and saved. We spent and explored. We are united by love, by history, by vows and by family.

How could he say this to me? Did I want him to say this to me? How did I feel? I am still not sure. I love Jim. I have no desire to find another husband. The thought of starting over. The thought of meeting someone (hard), introducing them to my children (I think I am feeling nauseous), my parents (again), having those awkward first dinners with friends, filling in the stories of my life, listening to stories of his life, determining if he has a secret past that I need to be aware of, working out nuances that are unfamiliar…… No. I am not even remotely close to being ready or interested.

But then I think, I am only 43 and most days I feel like I am 23. It is all so confusing. Then I really think about Jim and us and our children. I think about the fact Jim has always told me I am most beautiful in just a plain t-shirt and no makeup. He loves me as me. Nothing fancy. Or fake.

And then it all becomes real again and hard and emotional and hurtful. He is still leaving me. Even if I don’t want someone else. I can’t have him. The REAL him that made me so giddy and happy and content with my life. I can’t have the man that loves me with all of my faults and my idiosyncrasies. I can’t have the person I want with me when I have wrinkles and turn gray and with just a glance will know what I am thinking or what I need. And I won’t know the same about him either.

For now, I still have Jim with me. I am so grateful that I do. I don’t know that I am grateful the way I will one day look back and wish I had been or should have been. During the rush and stresses of day to day life it is hard to be grateful for what you have right now. Don’t we always want more? Don’t we always want something better and something newer?

Not I. I want what I have (ok, maybe a new wardrobe or a new house.) But I don’t want a new family. I don’t want a new Dad for my children or a new husband. I want the man I decided to marry 17 years ago. I want the man that has been so consistent and accepting and adventurous and supportive and loving. I don’t want a replacement. I want the original.

Jim witnessed me giving birth twice. He has seen me depressed, drunk, happy, emotional, sick, energized, impatient, slouchy, sweaty, misinformed, irrational, frustrated, elated and heard me sing. He has seen the core of me. He has accepted me and loved me through it all. And I him. We are supposed to drive cross country in an RV. We are waiting until Brad is old enough to raft the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. We haven’t gone to Australia yet. We haven’t paid off the house and retired and watched the kids grow into young adults with families of their own.

Time. Time can either be your friend or your enemy. With Alzheimer’s it is both. You don’t want to drag out your loved ones demise to the point that they are years in a home, bedridden and completely unaware of who you are. But you want more time with them and you want time to fulfill your dreams together. What a bitter irony.


posted by Karen in Early Signs of Alzheimer's,Early Stages of Alzheimer's Disease,Uncategorized,Younger Onset Alzheimer's Disease and have Comments (5)

5 Responses to “I want the original please.”

  1. Dennis DuBois says:

    I visited my wife this morning, as I do every morning, to feed her breakfast.
    I have been where you are, and my wife, Joyce, has been where Jim is now. She was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s almost 10 years ago. The most difficult time to deal with this was, without a doubt, while she was still aware of what was happening. I never felt more helpless in my life! There was nothing I could say that could relieve her. All I could do was hold her, and promise that I would be there for her, no matter what was coming down the road.
    She, like Jim, was concerned about how this would affect me. I’m sure that his comment was showing his concern for your well being,
    As hard as it is to imagine now, the day that she no longer was aware of what was happening, was a true blessing. She became happy again, content in whatever world her mind took her to.
    She can no longer do anything for herself. She can’t walk or talk, and I don’t think she knows who I am, but I can still get her to smile and laugh, and that gets me through my day!
    August 19th will be our 46th wedding anniversary. I look forward to starting that day, feeding her breakfast, and, hopefully, seeing her smile!

    • Denise DuBois Marshall says:

      I always read these posts and they often make me cry because it often hits very close to home (Dennis and Joyce are my parents.) I shared the link to your blog with my dad a while ago, but honestly did not know if he was reading it like I was. I was both surprised and pleased to see his response above. I love you, Dad! xoxo And I wish you (Karen) and Jim and your family all the best in dealing with this cruel disease. You are definitely not alone. <3

  2. Yes Karen, I remember Curt saying those same words to me also. It’s there way of loving us by say they want us to be happy again! I reacted the exact same way you did. And as this cruel disease continues it’s course of destruction on my dear hubs, he still reminds me of those words. I know he just loves me so much and wants me to be happy……but yea it’s a hard pill to swallow.

  3. Nancy says:

    Dear Karen,
    I am so sorry for what you are going through. My husband is also early onset dementia. I appreciate your words. They express the difficulty of this disease well. His love for you is showing through. Hold onto that for the future when it can’t. Know that you are not alone on this journey. It does bring some comfort. Nancy

  4. Michelle Fox says:

    Please love him now for who he is. Enjoy these days. Someday you will yearn for them. You are projecting too far into the future and not enjoying the present. You are missing the best days of what is left of Jim’s life.

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