Editor's Note: Jan Chorlton and Barry Petersen met in a Seattle newsroom over 25 years ago and fell head over heels in love. They married and traveled the world – Barry as a CBS News correspondent and Jan as a reporter for several news organizations, including CNN. But their lives were shattered in 2005 when Jan was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease – at 55. In his new book, "Jan's Story: Love Lost to the Long Goodbye of Alzheimer's," Barry describes seeing his wife, and his life, disappear.
From "Jan's Story," by Barry Petersen
“Every man's memory is his private literature.” ~Aldous Huxley
May I tell you the story of how I never proposed to Jan? No getting down on bended knee, no diamond ring in a box—because I was so broke after a divorce that I couldn’t afford a ring.
No Jan sitting in some fancy restaurant, choking up, blurting out a joyful “Yes.” We had been friends for a while because she worked at the CBS TV affiliate in Seattle and I would travel there for stories, often working out of their newsroom.
One evening . . . the first time she ever invited me to her tiny one-bedroom apartment overlooking Lake Washington . . . we sat and talked. It was never more than that . . . sorry . . . no scenes that censors would take out of the movie version.
It was just that, somehow, we knew – both of us – that we would be together from then on, HAD to be together. I gently kissed her goodnight and walked away and felt as if I had been in an earthquake. I was shaken and elated, scared, but also ecstatic with the sense of being alive . . . I knew my life had changed in brilliant ways.
We were married in San Francisco on Valentine’s Day in 1985, and then lived here and there across the globe . . . San Francisco, Tokyo, Moscow, London and back to Tokyo and Beijing.
My job as a journalist for CBS News provided Jan and me with the ability to see and experience the world. Much of it was wonderful, some of it still gives me nightmares. Read more