grief memories

Fantasy Time

Sometimes, I can still hear your voice in my head telling me, “I love you honey.” I can still hear you saying, “It will be OK.”

And every now and then one of your catchphrases pops into my head: “That’s why they call me ‘the big fella,’” or even, “Shut the hell up.”

When something good happens – “That’s better than a hit in the head.”

When I’m doing my crossword at breakfast, I hear, “Let the big fella have a little looky loo.”

I don’t hear your voice as often anymore. Our time together is fading further and further into the past. Sometimes I can’t stand missing you so much, that I close my eyes and I picture stretching out my arm, reaching to you, pulling you towards me, trying to help you keep up with me.

And sometimes, in my mind’s eye, I pull you in very, very close, and I conjure up my memories of you. You staring at me with love in your eyes. And I just savor you for a little while, and enjoy seeing your smile, again.

And in my mind’s eye, I take in all of you. From the top of your smooth bald head down to your size 14W feet. I picture myself watching you and touching you. I try to remember how you felt. I picture you holding me. I try to remember the warmth and the comfort. I picture you laughing. I recreate some of the moments we shared and our joy together.

And as you stare into my eyes, I feel the closeness we had all over again, the bond we shared with one another. The intimacy. The understanding. The oneness.

And then life calls me back. The phone rings or I get a text message, or my alarm goes off, or a car drives by. Something in this world distracts me and you are gone in an instant. And I have to let the memories go. I have to let you go. I have to come back to this world, be present in this life, in reality – and you are gone, once again.

And in those times, it feels like a new loss. The pain is fresh, and I ask myself, that same question I’ve asked a thousand times, “How can you be gone?” And it feels like you died all over again.

It’s like a punishment, feeling you so close, only to lose you again.

Why do I do it then? Why put myself through the agony of feeling you so close when I know it’s just fantasy?

Because I cherish those quick trips back into the past. I cherish our memories. I cherish whatever time I can have with you, even if it’s not real.

And then I return to the present, leave you and those memories behind, and continue with my journey alone.

About the author

Katherine Billings Palmer is a technical writer, poet, and essayist from Garden City, Michigan. She’s won several academic writing awards, including first place in the University of Michigan Dearborn Critical Essay Contest for her work about poet John Donne: “‘The Sun Rising’: A Lover’s Boast.”

In 2017, Katherine’s husband, Rick, died of complications from small cell lung cancer. She wrote a series of poems and essays about her struggles to cope with her grief. I Wanted to Grow Old With You is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

Her latest book, A Widow’s Words: Grief, Reflection, Prose, and Poetry – The First Year was published in January 2019 and is also available on

Katherine is a guest blogger for the Hope for Widows Foundation and writes about her grief journey at


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