Lost in “Unrequited Love”

By Karen J. Lim

She was my best friend.

But then she ended up getting pregnant with another man’s baby.

When she came home from the hospital with her miracle baby at age 44, I brought spicy, Indian food that she did not fancy.

Determined to be the best uncle was my only way to remain close.

After all, she told me

“Friends last a lifetime and lovers are fleeting.”

At the marriage ceremony, I was an usher, and the two-year child was the flower girl.

Every Christmas, I came bearing gifts, tutored her in high school Physics, and gave her my valued possessions as she set up her first apartment.

As my health spiraled downward with Parkinson’s, my weight loss was apparent having dropped over twenty pounds within a year.

My best friend, then, became my chauffeur and devoted servant – she washed my dishes, clothes, and bought me pull-on pants, polo shirts, slip-on shoes, and new underwear.

She took me to get my haircut, and toenails trimmed.

She drove me to doctor appointments: colonoscopy; neurologist.

Finally, she made me realize that I had to face my Parkinson Disease head on– no more denials. My shaking was not because I was cold.

Visits to a couple of nursing homes showed me I had no choice but to go back to India under my relatives’ supervision and care.

I refused to sit in a dining room with strangers staring at me. My dignity was always intact, regardless of my tremors and unkempt appearance.

The shaking became more noticeable – I could no longer dress myself and eat without getting food splattered on my clothes.

Walking downstairs from my second-floor condominium became problematic, as my vision began to blur.

As I started to pack my belongings to journey back to my homeland, I reflected on my well-traveled life to Europe, Middle East, Asia, and throughout the United States.

My only regret was never to have gone to Disneyland to see the Small World and witness the wonder of Disney. I never married, nor had a child to witness the joy from innocent eyes.

Arriving in Madras, India accompanied by my niece and her family, I lost all independence with a chauffeur, house cleaner, cook, and massage therapist.

Although I felt pampered like a king, my heart was lonely without a queen.

My last few days lingered as it was weeks. My relatives wondered why I was so stubborn to prolong their agony rather than slipping away peacefully.

At last, I heard her voice again on the phone weeping with sadness that she could not be there to hold my hand, as she reminisced over our good times.

I heard her heavy-heart and deep sorrow of loss.

She said her final goodbyes and I imagined her body close to mine, holding my hands.

As soon as the phone hung up, I closed my eyes and shed a tear of contentment! Hope was no longer lost in unrequited love.


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Brief Bio for Karen J. Lim

Karen Lim was born in 1954 in Tucson, Az to immigrant parents from Taishan, China.

After receiving her BA in Asian Studies from the University of Arizona, she went on to earn an MS in Education (Reading Specialist) from Elmira College. She taught in various Freshmen Experience Programs and Equal Opportunity Programs at Cornell University, Boston University, and the Loyola University of Chicago. Before retiring in 2017, Karen taught in the English Department at San Diego City College for 27 years.

She is writing her memoir, enjoys walking the beach, watching sunsets, caring for her two ShihTzu dogs, baking bread, doing yoga and tai chi. Karen is Co-President of the San Diego Chinese Women’s Association and leads a very busy social life.

Karen lives in Carlsbad, CA with her husband and has one grown daughter.

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