“What motivated you to go public with this very personal story and open yourself up to all kinds of criticism?” asked one reader.
Page Melton Ivie responded, “What families look like — it's an important conversation that we will need to keep having as caregiving responsibilities change. ... I am sorry for the critics — I don't expect everyone to understand or approve.”
The story of “The Vow,” which appeared in The Washington Post Magazine this past weekend, resonated with many readers. Author Susan Baer and the subject of the story, Page Melton Ivie, took questions from Washington Post readers Monday during a Live Q&A.
Below are highlighted reader questions and Ivie’s answers for the chat. You can find the complete chat here.
Q: Do you ever rethink your decision to resuscitate Robert, even though the medical professionals warned you that he would not be himself? Would you make the same decision again?
A: I have rethought everything — hundreds of times. I would, though. I know our story has prompted many folks to have those hard, but necessary, discussions with their spouses, kids and parents. Important conversations to have.
Q: I am concerned about writing a story that publicly discusses the deterioration of a professional, brilliant man. It's a wonderfully written, important piece of journalism, but one of the main subjects really could not give his full consent about the article. This is uncomfortable for me; I would not want the story to be about me in this situation. I know it is an important topic; but the ethics of these types of stories should be an ongoing discussion.
A: It is very hard to read about Robert and I agree his situation raises many ethical questions that we have grappled with through the years. It breaks our hearts all of the time. He has a brain injury — it's an undignified condition for sure.
Q: When you say you made the decision within your faith, could you explain that some more. Many would argue that breaking your vow by ending your marriage isn't compatible with any faith. How did you reconcile it with your faith?
A: I understand that my choices are not for everyone. I had long discussions about the meaning of those vows and I concluded that I am standing by Robert in every sense and at the same time, ensuring our girls are cared for and that Robert will always be cared for. Again, wasn't what I was looking for, but I have to make peace with the fact that our new life helps everyone.
Q: To what vow is it that you are being lauded for holding true?
A: I understand this is a sticking point for a lot of folks. I would disagree that we have “moved on.” Robert is central to our lives and now benefits from a stronger support network than he had before. Not a justification for anything — just the fact of our lives now. I will take care of him forever. In the context of my faith, I am standing by him and with him. I am fortunate to have found someone who will share this with me.
Q: Page, if you were in Robert's situation (ill) would you also want Allan to move on with his life or feel that he should stay married to you?
A: I would want first, what's best for our children. And I would want my spouse to be happy. We benefited from our situation by expanding Robert's support network — ensuring his continued good care and that is a huge comfort to me and Robert's family.