It’s February 28. A whole two weeks have passed since Valentine’s Day. By now, your long-stemmed roses have definitely wilted, your Valentine’s Day cards are in the bottom of a mail pile somewhere, and that delicious box of chocolate truffles you gobbled right up are a distant memory.
But while pretty flowers and touching cards and yummy chocolates are lovely and all, a viral post on Love What Matters is reminding us all what true love really looks like this week. And for so many reasons.
The post features a simple photo taken at a Wendy’s restaurant, showing a 96-year-old husband feeding his 93-year-old wife who is suffering from Alzheimer’s.
“My whole life I’ve yearned for a love that strong,” reads the caption accompanying the photo, which was shared by an unidentified Facebook user.
Such sentiments are often associated with the grand gestures we see in Hollywood Rom-Coms, or even in the page-turning romance novels some of us secretly (or not-so-secretly) can’t put down. But in reality, it’s these small moments of affection and devotion between two people that really drive life’s greatest love stories, behind the scenes. And catching even a quick glimpse of moments like these can be enough to melt the heart.
According to the post, the Facebook user introduced himself when the elderly man stood up to throw away the couple’s trash, and asked how many years the two had been married.
“This is their date night,” the Facebook user reports in the post. “[The elderly man] also told me that if they make it till June, they will be celebrating 75 years of marriage!”
Since it was posted last week, the photo has been taking the Internet by storm — it’s been liked over 138K times and shared over 26K times.
As one commenter shared, “True love will last forever in sickness in health.”
Another commented, “It [was] at this stage with my parents that I witnessed true love.”
According to The Alzheimer’s Association, more than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. That means that five million families and caregivers experience heartbreak every day they watch their loved one grapple with this disease, struggling to remember everything (and everyone) in their life. They witness their loved one become disoriented, frantically searching for familiarity — a sense of safety. They feel a sense of loss for their loved one as they succumb to dementia, and the many other changes that this disease brings on.
These are just some of the many reasons this post has resonated so deeply with thousands.
“My heart absolutely breaks for anyone enduring life with Alzheimer’s,” shared one user. “It’s a cruel, remorseless disease.”
As for the husband pictured the photo, it’s clear that he knows his wife is still in there, behind the disease. Just as she has been there for the last (almost) 75 years.
This extraordinary husband could probably teach us all a thing or two about celebrating life and love. But most of all, he is showing the world just how ordinary love can transform into something astounding and unconditional when it’s coupled with commitment and care.