Warning, this is long, but I needed to write. I never seem to hear talk of that 800 pound gorilla in the room. Most conversation is about caring for moms and dads/the elderly with dementia/Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s etc, issues which I also had to deal with. Dad struggled with Alzheimer’s for 10 years before he passed. What a nightmare that was. I can’t, nor can anyone imagine what he went through. During that time, mom was diagnosed with cancer, she passed away some months after dad. My sister had came up from San Diego and stayed with mom during her last few months. Thank god I have the sister that I do, it was so stressful a time. The more stories I hear from people about how family issues have been, the more blessed I think my sister and I are for the relationship we have. Turned out that it was the time my sister and brother in law were also closing their business, and I was going to be a part of that. I was a full time caregiver for my wife and arranged for my wife’s sister and mother, and a caregiver to work out times they could be there during this time, when I wasn’t. I would shop and prepare days of food for them when I was home for a couple days each week. So, I was traveling the 45+ minutes in LA traffic, (which I really hate) from my house to mom's place. I’d help my sister and mom as much as I could. Then I’d drive to San Diego and help with the closing of the business. Then back to my wife. This was a stressful triangle of travel that couldn’t be helped and I forget how long it went on for. I know it was months. I couldn’t be as involved in mom's personal hygiene issues as I was with my wife, so my sis did that along with organizing everything mom needed. We took turns sleeping with mom while I was there. The gorilla in the room for me is the following. I’m married. My wife is going on 4 years now in assistive care due to MS. The quadriplegia, cognitive issues (very dementia like) and everything that goes along with it, like bowel issues, severe osteoporosis, eating and drinking disorders, infections etc. I’ve been her full time caregiver since 1998. She was diagnosed 1983, 3 years after we were married in 1980. We weren’t old then, I was 29, my wife was 30. Now we’re early 60’s. What comes after this? I hate being alone. It’s depressing, and lonely. My time was so occupied with caregiving for her, and now find that I have no motivation or life of my own doing. Our 29 year old daughter, along with family and friends, wants me to get out and have a female friend for the companionship and purpose in life after caregiving. Someone to be intimate with, not only sexually, but more importantly, emotionally. I too want this. But I can’t help but think about this in depth. I’m not going to divorce my wife. It’s just not a thought for me. She’s lost so much and I know how devastating divorce would be to her, and I won’t do that to her. Yet how does a relationship at this age manage to work, within this issue? I meet women, but in the sense I describe, they really can’t relate to me nor I to them. Even the occasional female acquaintance will say, why don’t you have a girlfriend? Well what woman is willing to be in a relationship under such circumstances? Certainly not the one in front of me making that statement. The rules we all grew up with work for most, but not for me, or the very few who are in a similar situation. We have all thought that the rules of companionship are all encompassing by way of social standards. Not so anymore for me, and it’s awkward. I bristle at the self righteous who have no clue whatsoever when they say how wrong it is to have a relationship outside of marriage. Or someone without the experiences, who says, I don’t see a problem...just get out there. Don’t get me wrong, circumstances change and I’m aware of that. Things happen that are outside the scope of what society sees as the norm. I don’t feel those, norms, always apply. So what do we do? The only people who can truly relate and truly understand are those who have gone through similar circumstances. I don’t want to openly have constant conversation of just caregiving issues and problems, and I don’t think that would be the issue. It’s just knowing where we’ve been, what we’ve been through and are going through. Some don’t see it, that’s ok for them, but others do. Where are these people? Are we all hidden away in our homes feeling trapped and miserable after giving ourselves to the care we have given, waiting, for what? A knock on our door? I’m a caring healthy person who wants a life. I want to join in the promise of not having to live alone anymore. It’s not that I was alone all those years with my wife, and mother in law who had come to live with us after her husband passed away. Although I cared for her as well for about 16 years, she tried to help as she could. A sweet elderly woman with mild dementia. Although I didn’t like what I was doing, I loved my family. It’s just that I’ve been lonely all these years and want to be happy. I don’t want to try to twist myself away from the happy I want, so I can accept the lonely I no longer want. It’s enough to know that the happy life my wife and I had is long gone and won’t come back. The woman I married is lost and the years between then and now are in the rear view mirror and it has been a tough journey for us both. The question is in my writing. I don’t want to live a lonely life without a companion to go through it with and have the opportunity to be happy. I’m trying to find out how to do something about this. I don’t have a road map for it. Where do I go?