Imagine if you can…you are a young person and you’ve fallen in love. In every waking moment all you can think of is the person who has captured your heart. Even your dreams are sweet scenes of passionate moments together. Every thought is consumed by how much you want to be with them.
Imagine then, that you are lucky enough to marry this person. You are only in your twenties and you have so much to learn about life and even about yourself. You know passion intimately at this stage. It is alive when you make love and also when arguments arise. You begin to grow up together. You have no choice. You now have babies to love and raise together.
The next two decades have you side by side working to raise your children and carve out a comfortable life. You both are working so hard that sometimes you forget to notice each other and then suddenly you stop what you are doing. And you see them again like it’s the very first time. Every cell of your being tingles with love and appreciation for this person. The one.
Your children have moved on now. Life slows down a little. Together you marvel at how quickly those previous years flew by. You slowly get reacquainted with each other and fall into comfortable patterns of routine. You are best friends. Words are not always necessary. The love you share is solid. Neither of you doubts the other in any way.
The years seem to accelerate now. You have shared so much laughter and joy but there has been some terrible sadness too. One of your children has passed away after a battle with cancer and it almost kills you too. On the days you felt you couldn’t tread water any longer and you just wanted to stop moving and sink below the surface, your loves hand was under your head holding it up. You took turns then propping the other up.
Time goes on. Many things change. Your children’s children are now having children. You live together in a small space because you realize it’s all you really need. The days seem endless at times but then why does Christmas seem to come around faster every year? Each of you has body parts that ache and some parts have even stopped working altogether. You take turns complaining. You are pretty sure your ailments are worse than theirs are, but you worry about them too. Your friends and relatives are dying regularly now. It makes you stop and take stock of how far you’ve come and again, how grateful you are to have shared this journey with your love.
You have been married now for sixty eight years. Sixty eight years! You have been together almost everyday for all of those years. The health of your partner has declined to the point that you cannot look after them by yourself any longer. They are moved to a facility where doctors and nurses can care for them. You are left alone. They are left alone. You each worry about the other one because you know they are so lonely and afraid. You want to be the one to prop them up again. You know how to be there for them better than anyone else. The rules of the facility don’t allow you to be together though. You both have to be equally and identically incapable before they can put you together. When does that ever happen?
Imagine if you can…a full happy lifetime spent with your love but in the end you are not “allowed” to be together. It’s against the rules.
It’s just not right. Something is very wrong with our system and how we care for our elderly.