Phantom Lover


I’m in love with a man who cannot love me back. I think of him all day, every day of every week of every month. From my first moments lying in bed in the morning until my last tired thoughts trying to fall asleep late in the evening.

I long to call him with each new idea, thought and life event that transpires. I want to share each amazing feat Frances and Brad conquer. I want to call and ask him what he wants for dinner or if he can sneak away and grab some lunch. I want to hear about his day and carry on a conversation sharing our thoughts and desires. I want to laugh together at something funny on TV or sit in the darkness of a movie theater, jumping at the scene on the screen or wiping away tears as our hearts are tugged by the story unfolding before our eyes. I want to feel the excitement of catching up on episodes missed or planning an evening without the kids. I want to know he is thinking of me, as I think of him. But he is not mine. He is in a different place, with another life and is not interested in my fantasy world that includes him because his world does not include me.

I cannot have him. I dream of him. I yearn to call and ask if he would join me for a weekend away. Just the two of us, locked away in a cabin in the woods or lazily reading books while listening to ocean waves crash feet away.  Would I be satisfied with just a weekend or would I be left in an even larger state of isolation and frustration?  I have lost hope for a note in his handwriting, confessing how much I mean to him and how he can’t stop thinking of me. Does he? Does he think of me? Does he long for my touch as I long for his?

I am a woman with unrequited love.

There are no date nights. There is no lounging in bed too long. There are no passionate kisses and gentle touches. There are no arguments or the fun that comes with making up. There are no loving gazes, no words unspoken with just a glance. No plans for a future together or shared dreams to make come true.

Just me, recalling the way his hand touched my back as we walked through an entryway. Just me, wishing we could stroll arm in arm, chatting and feeling the warmth of friendship and love all rolled into one.  Just me, wondering how I will ever get past this loneliness and longing.

Although I ache for him, thinking of him constantly and wanting to share each detail of my day, he is not mine. He belongs to another. I am just a fleeting thought, someone to ponder about whenever I pop into his mind. Daily? Weekly? Surely when something triggers a reminder of me. There are fleeting conversations, but with each one I am left wanting more. I need more and he cannot give me more.

I instinctively pick up the phone to share something and realize the emptiness of that dial tone. When I am angry or sad I want to reach out to him and hear his voice. He calms me like no other. When something wonderful happens, it is him I want to tell first. I want him to grab me in his arms, pulling me into his chest, smelling his scent, feeling his strong arms holding me tight, taking all the anger away and reminding me I am special and loved and safe. I need him to make me feel beautiful again. I need him to make me feel smart and funny and worthy.

There are no cards. No flowers. No surprises. No late night intimate chats. No snuggles on the couch. No breakfasts in bed. Nothing but the connection I feel, the hunger I have, the dreams that will never come true.  I love someone who is a ghost.

posted by Karen in Early Signs of Alzheimer's,Early Stages of Alzheimer's Disease,Uncategorized,Younger Onset Alzheimer's Disease and have Comments (12)

12 Responses to “Phantom Lover”

  1. Barbara Wood says:

    This is one of your most intimate and revealing articles. I was /am married to the most amazing man. For 48 of our 51 years, he was the most loving compassionate generous man I have ever known. He treated me as an equal partner, allowed me to grow into the woman God designed me to be. He treated me as a treasure, always putting his needs before mine. At 48 years of marriage I still thrilled to his phone call and smiled when I heard his voice. His secretaries said he was the same way, and would interrupt almost anything he was doing to speak to me. His love,passion and tenderness for me was so apparent that people remarked on it frequently.

    Now three years later, after his diagnosis, and very rapid too good to be true marriage has changed. It was and is a covenant relationship, and that promise in sickness and in health is still there. However the young man I met in collage and married is no longer available for companionship, love, sharing, laughing at the absurdities of life. Some days I am me all day, sometimes he thinks I’m his caregiver , or old school friend , I’m even that bossy lady who tells him what to do. He usually does not recognize me, but often tells me how he misses his wife, or how she just abandoned him and moved away.. He calls me on my cell phone and even though I sit right in front of him with phone in hand, he tells me to come home..I know his heart still loves me, but his mind is a completely different thing and is not at all connected to reasoning and remembering our relationship. I do not know how much longer I will have him, but I am grateful for those 48 years and with Gods grace I can endure until the end.

  2. Shirley Sehar says:

    Well said again, Karen! That was one of the hardest times but it made the grief in his passing somewhat less for you will have already grieved for this loss, people probably wonder why I am not mourning as a widow should (but I have been a widow for several years and they haven’t seen that!). Not that it is easy but it is a different transition than most!

  3. Nancy says:

    Thank you for sharing your intimate thoughts. They too are mine. I miss my husband so much as he sit in the chair right or lays in the bed right next to me. I need him, his advise, his support, his parenting and his protection but.. nothing. I truly appreciate you sharing your story. Somehow, as ugly as it is, it makes us feel better that we are not alone. God Bless you and your family.

  4. Karen, Jim can’t interact with you, chat with you, or caress you, but when you are with him he knows you because he feels close to you from somewhere in his past. I know what and how you feel. Sorry to tell you the emptiness of your life will continue until you leave this world. I was taking a minute to go to the bathroom and while taking care of business this thought came to me. ” I faced the challenges and I found Grace”. I will pray for you on your journey and beyond.

  5. Lee Ann says:

    Its a part of grief. You are grieving in place. It will get better, but not right away. Just hang onto the idea that grief goes through stages. And this is just one of them.

    I have a friend whose Mom struggled terribly with cancer for four years. Surgeries, chemo and radiation, and her husband took care of her every hour except when he was at work. Then her daughter was there for her. Her Mom died, I guess its about 20 years ago now. they grieved in place, grieving while she was still here, knowing it would never get better. One year and one day later, her Dad remarried (his wife’s best friend, it was quite the scandal, let me tell you). The kids all were angry that he was forgetting their Mother, and how could he remarry so quickly? But Karen, my friend, had helped her father care for her for 4 years, said that they grieved all four of those years. And she was just happy that her Dad was now happy again. Life changes for all of us. If I looked back (I’m 63), and saw the mistakes and the tragedies and the sadness involved, would I want to do it again? I don’t know.

    They say that all life changes. Whether you walk through it with your head held high, or are dragged through it, kicking and screaming, its still going to change.


  6. Cindy says:

    This makes me so sad. You are ahead of me in this journey and I am terrified by the same things you mention. I think of you and pray for you often.

  7. Kathy Taylor says:

    Karen, these are my feelings exactly! Only my love is a memory now. He died on August 12. I miss his arms around me and long for just one more hug!

  8. Katie says:

    Karen, As a daughter that just lost her dad in May to Early onset Alzheimer’s, I just want to thank you. It is so easy to get caught up in my grief and feel sorry for myself. Sometimes I forget to stop and think of my mother who has loved my dad since she was 14 and married him right after her 18th birthday. I don’t always think about how she must have felt and still feels. Thank you for reminding me. I think I’ll go give her a hug today and thank her for all all she’s done… For him and us. Thank you Karen for you blogs. It is such a blessing for families with similar struggles to know they are not alone in their feelings and grief. I pray God gives you strength to endure this disease. To staying strong!! Prayers for your family.

  9. Barbara says:

    Reading all these comments help and hurt at the same time if that makes any sense. Thank you all for sharing.

  10. Grace says:

    Karen, my worst suffering came from wishing things were different than they are. When I was able to let go of those thoughts and longing for the past, my well-being and ability to cope with this disease and the present situation improved. How I was able to do that? It’s kind of like banging your head against the wall; it just feels better when you stop.

    Wishing you strength and peace. A fellow Alzheimer’s Widow.

  11. donna says:

    i am just finding your blog. this post is one of the most beautiful and haunting thing i’ve ever read. thank you for sharing yourself with us. my prayers are with you.

  12. Eva says:

    My heart breaks for you. My mom doesn’t know who I am. She asks me how we know each other. We have no past together and doesn’t remember my grown children. I cried for a long time, now I see it as a very long good bye, which I am afforded with her. I feel lucky that I have the chance to love her, to pamper her as she slips away forever.

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