I was thinking about getting old today. I’m not really sure what brought it up, but maybe it was because I was thinking about people who get married or stay in long-term relationships until the end of their lives versus the people who primarily are single all of their lives. I thought about my dad having his double bypass surgery and how terrible it would have been if he were having his surgery and knew no one was waiting in the waiting room for him, or no one would be there to take him home on the day of his discharge. I thought about how he needed help bathing his back and behind after his surgery since he was told not to reach, otherwise his chest incision could re-open, which wouldn’t be good. Other than the usual things you think about when you think of how great it is to be in a romantic relationship where you know someone is passionate about you, your body, and your mind, there are practical aspects to having a life partner. This person’s life and yours are about each other; you have a responsibility to be there for each other. When you aren’t in a long-term relationship when you are older, who’s going to be there for you to wash your butt when you can’t open your chest incision after bypass surgery? Your friends probably aren’t going to be raising their hands to help you, partly because they may “have their own lives” as people love to say. Your partner’s “own life” is your life.
Then I remembered being in the waiting room with my parents as we waited for my dad to get admitted for surgery in November. I remember one man who was admitting himself for some form of heart surgery; I couldn’t hear what kind. As he was signing in, the nurse asked him if he had anyone who needed a pager for updates for his surgery while he was in the operating room. He said no, but he had a son who “might” call in for a status after he got off work later that evening. He’d have to call to check if he was going to actually come in or call.
I felt so sad when I heard that. Yes, he has a son who’d probably be there for him when he was discharged (even that is uncertain from his tone of voice), but he had no one waiting for him. He had no one there to comfort him through his stressful surgery. He didn’t have anyone who would be sitting and waiting for updates on him in the OR while his chest was being opened up. That would be such a lonely world.