David and Jenny have been married for over 30 years. Jenny has Alzheimer’s disease and David cares for her with a tenderness that few would be able to match. Every morning he puts on a record as he prepares breakfast. On this morning, they dance. In “The Days Are Getting Longer,” director Ted Terrenoire captures the beauty and the grief that have woven their way into this relationship. Jenny has changed, and David clearly mourns the loss of the woman he knew, but he stays devoted to caring for her “for better or worse.”
“In any long term marriage…there’s gonna be that love and affection and there’s gonna be all the romantic things that people write songs about. But when it really comes down to it, the really important stuff is that trust and the consideration for the other person.” - David Terrenoire
David and Jenny are not alone. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “16.1 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.” Couples like David and Jenny, and other types of families, move through their days, preserving a semblance of normalcy as best they can. Some days are better than others. It can be confusing to know how to hold space for grief when a loved one is still with us. In fact, I know a little bit about this. My grandmother is in late stages of Alzheimer’s, cared for by the staff of an assisted living facility and my parents. My grandmother was the woman who never missed a birthday. She has 9 children, and dozens of grandchildren and great grandchildren to keep track of. It is tragic to see her try to hang onto this part of her identity — she knows it was there but it rests just outside of her reach.
If you are dealing with Alzheimer’s, reach out for support. At alz.org you can find resources in your area or join their 24/7 online support forum. You can also look to local hospitals and long term care facilities to find out if there are support groups near you.
In the meantime, watch this short film. In 20 minutes, you will have access to a precious moment in the lives of a couple who love each other deeply. It is truly an honor to witness such intimacy and see how one man manages to #LovetheWorld by simply loving his wife.