Our 50 Year Journey with ALS, Our Love Story
I opened my email inbox the other day and saw an email from a man living in California, it was titled ‘Our 50 year journey with ALS, our love story.’ Not knowing what to expect I opened it and downloaded a 50 page file.
As I started reading, I realized as the Communications Manager for the ALS Association Greater New York Chapter, this was a love story I needed to share with all of you.
David Loomer met his wife Bonita in high school. Their love story started on the dance floor when she had the courage to ask him to dance.
“One might say not we were what you would call a perfect match as she was pretty formal and goal driven, where as I was more interested in experiencing life’s many wonders,” David said.
But despite their differences their relationship quickly progressed into something more serious. Serious enough for Bonita to introduce David to her mother. Bonita at the time was caring for her mother, who was diagnosed with ALS and could no longer walk or verbally communicate.
David said when it came time to propose to Bonita, she hesitated before responding.
“I vividly remember her saying, “are you sure you want to marry me knowing ALS can be familial”. I responded saying dear, we are all going to die from something, nobody will live forever, remember I’m in the business of dealing with death. I Love you, I want to spend the rest of my life with you, for better or worse, in sickness or in heath for all eternity,” David said.
David and Bonita, married had two daughters, and later two grandchildren. David said his priority was living each moment to its fullest and always putting family first.
“Always having the thoughts of ALS in the back of our minds, never knowing if or when, caused us to do and experience things most wait until retirement years to enjoy. So looking back dealing with ALS at a young age instilled valuable lessons in both of us as to what is really important,” David said.
Unfortunately their fears became a reality when Bonita started showing signs of muscle weakness. She was diagnosed with ALS in March of 2014, at the age of 65. David said as the disease progressed Bonita never lost her will to keep fighting. He became her full time caretaker tackling it head on.
“Regardless of being imprisoned within her body, unable to do even the simplest task, she always managed to smile, that quirky little smile I fell in love with 50 years ago,” David said. “Her smile reinforced her love for me. Her body had failed but not her mind, so I became her arms and legs, we became one in each other.”
And you may wonder how after 50 years together and now taking on the role of caretaker David managed to keep the love alive. He said it’s about remembering what made them fall in love in the first place, a dance.
“Having to carry her everywhere, meant I was blessed with holding her in my arms at least a dozen times a day. She always loved to dance so I would lift her up and briefly sway, trying to sing “Can I have this dance for the rest of my life”, before placing her in a new spot,” David said.
In June of 2016 Bonita passed away with her soul mate of 50 years by her side. David said saying goodbye wasn’t easy but he knows she is now watching over the family.
“Our Granddaughter wanted to see Grammy, to say Good-bye. Not sure what the reaction would be we agreed. After seeing her she quickly responded, She is OK now, she can use her hands and feet again in Heaven. How profound was that?” David said.
In honor of Valentine’s Day the ALS Association Greater New York Chapter salutes all of the beautiful loves stories we witness each and every day working with all of you. Thank you for your continued love and support.