We have survived the normal things every couple faces, along with the serious challenges life presents you. But now we are isolated by Covid-19.
I am in New York City. Marco in Italy.
We haven’t seen each other in six months.
Spouses of EU citizens are considered an exception and are allowed to enter, but unmarried partners do not.
Since we are not legally married, the ocean separates me and my partner indefinitely.
Indeed, this is certainly not related to tourism. I don’t want to go to Italy to see the Colosseum or go to the Vatican. I want to be with the other half. I want to be with the other half. The person with whom you share life-changing moments.
I met Marco on Saturday in Italy after losing my father. Help me return from sadness and care during some difficult days early in our relationship.
We went through my diagnosis of breast cancer, radiotherapy, and when we were about to start our life together full-time in Italy, the most difficult obstacle ahead.
I gave up my career as a journalist in New York City in 2008 to permanently join Marco in Italy, where I planned freelance work, but then everything stopped a devastating stance.
Because of my breast cancer diagnosis, I used to get annual checks. During one of my routine follow-ups, I was diagnosed with leukemia, which was later confirmed to be related to my volunteer work at Ground Zero. I was there days after the September 11 attack that provided food to first responders as they searched for survivors.
The diagnosis was very broken.
She made plans for a full-time transition, and Marco and I walked together through stress and uncertainty about a life threatening illness.
We accepted that we should be in a long-term relationship for much of 2008, and found amazing doctors in New York City and I am very grateful to them.
My health and survival came first.
So over the past decade, I’ve traveled back and forth between New York City and Italy, and I came back to see my hematologist and get treatment from the World Trade Center health program.
It is not always easy. There have been many visits to emergency rooms in Italy, and travel is stressful because of the chemotherapy drug that I should take.
But through all of this, Marco and I managed to make our relationship work and grow stronger. It is not traditional, but we committed to life together.
I really think the beauty of Italy and its wonderful people also helped me to continue. Not to mention the spaghetti and gelato.
So in January, after another wonderful Christmas stay in Tuscany, I returned to New York as usual on my medical visits.
Then the coronavirus stopped the world on its path. My April trip to Rome was canceled. Then my trip in July too.
There is no sign that I will be allowed to return any time soon.
Yes, I am not legally married. I didn’t sign a piece of paper, but Marco and I definitely were together in sickness and health.
So, to dear Italy: Let me return to you.
I’ll take the Covid-19 test. I will quarantine. I know you believe in love; I invented it practically.
L’amore è amore.