I’m a long-time romance fan. I hope I’ve made that abundantly clear by now. I’m also still striving to become a romance writer. Between the books I’ve written and the sexy short stories I’ve told, the ideas are there, as well as the effort. This passion of mine has not changed, despite the deeply demoralizing impact of 2020.
I know things got quite bleak last year. I don’t deny all that bleakness got to me. There really was no guide to how to deal with a once-in-a-century pandemic. Once things started getting locked down and people I knew fell ill, it really hit me hard. This was bad. This was historically bad. Naturally, it seriously undermined my ability to enjoy romance.
Romance is about connection, hope, and intimacy. The events of the pandemic were the complete antithesis of all of that. It was not easy to navigate, to say the least. That’s coming from someone who was lucky enough to not get it.
However, now that vaccines are rolling out and I recently got mine, I find myself emerging from the soul-crushing feelings that plagued me last year. It has also inspired me to recapture my love of romance, both real and fictional.
To that end, I’d like to share a real life love story that captured all the right feels for romantics and non-romantics alike. On top of that, it’s a love story that played out during the worst parts of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s quite possibly the least romantic setting imaginable, but love still found a way.
This story comes courtesy of NJ.com and involves an elderly couple who’d known each other for years, but found love during the worst possible times. Check out the story for yourself. If it doesn’t warm your hardened heart, then I question your humanity.
NJ.com: N.J. sweethearts found love in their 90s — right at the start of the pandemic
This is a story on how it is never too late to find love, and how even the worst of times can serve as the catalyst.
Bill Biega is 98. Iris Ivers is 91.
Their longtime friendship was blossoming into romance by March 2020. That’s when the coronavirus pandemic prompted a stay-at-home order at the Applewood continuing care retirement community in Freehold, where they resided in separate apartments.
Bill and Iris quickly realized they couldn’t stay apart, resulting in an awkward encounter more befitting a college dorm.
“A security guard caught me sneaking back into my apartment,” explained Bill Biega, who will turn 99 in July.
The guard told him that everyone on the floor knew what was going on and gave the furtive couple a choice: Move in together, or stay apart indefinitely.
Iris packed up her belongings and joined Bill in his apartment the next day.
Just over a year later, both are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The stay-at-home order has been lifted but Bill and Iris are still living together, a choice prompted by a pandemic that neither could have imagined. A ray of light, amid so much loss.
Iris described Bill’s one-bedroom apartment as “cozy for two.”
“I can’t imagine us not being together, as long as we can be. We’re also realistic, and we know that we’re not getting any younger,” Iris said.
I’ll say it again. Love is a beautiful thing. It’s also powerful. Even the worst pandemic in a century can’t stop it. At a time when we’re all starting to emerge from this year-long nightmare, we need stories like this. We need to be reminded that love is real and people can find it, even during the worst situations.
Let’s take comfort in that as we build a new normal.
To Bill and Iris, thank you for sharing this story. We all needed it.