May 24, 2020 is the date of my daughter’s marriage to her beloved.
We’ve been anticipating this day as a complete love fest. Embraced by their families and their supportive community of devoted friends, we’ve imagined all the things.
A beautiful bride. A handsome groom. Stirring, personal vows shared. All against a backdrop of a sparkling rectangular swimming pool, lush green grapevines, rolling hills, and a garden bursting with spring blooms.
Followed by dinner, heartfelt toasts and capped off with a rollicking dance party under the stars, moonlight glowing upon the lovers’ upturned faces.
I could imagine it all.
Even just writing about the it thrills me all over again.
The love of community means everything to the bride and groom.
To create this magical celebration, friends rallied to share their talents. That’s just the way they are.
In Northern California wine country, one generous couple is graciously sharing their resplendent vineyard grounds for the wedding weekend.
Another friend is their wedding planner.
One will lead them in their marriage vows.
And yet another is baking all the desserts.
The day before the wedding, a childhood best friend will lead the women in a special blessing of the bride ceremony.
The groom’s brother and his husband are feting them the night before the wedding in a wooded glen.
They’ve planned a dinner party paying homage to the groom’s Hawaiian roots and Okinawan heritage. The bride will wear my former wedding dress. They will don fragrant leis. Hula dancing is on the menu.
The “brothers” will design and create all the flower arrangements for the dinner party. Which will then become the centerpieces for the wedding celebration dinner tables the next day.
Family and friends are are booked to fly in from all across the US, including New York, Maryland, Minnesota and Hawaii. A dear B-school friend is even planning to join them all the way from Dubai.
The day after the wedding, we’ve planned a swim party and an informal poolside brunch.
Their entire loving community has been reveling in joyous anticipation of their up-coming nuptials.
But, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this vision seems as fragile and effervescent as champagne bubbles.
COVID-19 news and mounting fears while wedding planning continued.
Last week I was scheduled to join my daughters in California for a long weekend of final wedding planning.
Until practically the last minute, I was vacillating about making the trip from Maryland.
With each day’s news about COVID-19 growing more ominous, I had many unknowns to consider.
- Being over 60, was I exposing myself to unreasonable risk?
- Would I be able to keep a safe distance from other passengers in the airport and on the plane?
- Might I get sick during my visit?
- Would I make my children sick?
- Would airline flights be curtailed or cancelled once I arrived?
- Could I become stranded in California?
- How and when could I ever get home?
- And then the very ridiculous fear that they would run out of toilet paper. Really. It’s scarce as hen’s teeth in the Bay area.
Although my brain was on fire, my husband offered unconditional support, no matter my decision.
Although my brain kept offering lots of worries and concerns…
In the end, I decided I wasn’t having it.
I decided to feel the fear and do it anyway. When the Lyft arrived to take me to the airport, I jumped into and never looked back.
Thought work helped me think more intentionally about my decision. I was able to generate more helpful, believable thoughts that aligned with my deepest heart’s desire.
More than fear, I wanted to be with my daughters during this time of both crazy crisis and unfettered joy.
I understood the precautions I should take.
I flew to California last Thursday just as planned.
I was with my daughters and loved every minute of our visit.
For the first two days, we huddled, cuddled and caught up.
Then the bride and I drove through the pastoral countryside to Healdsburg and then onto the vineyard.
We oohed and aahed over the breath-taking vistas. Horses and cows grazed lazily. Meticulously planted rows of grapevines as far as the eye could see were beginning to bud. Bright green hillsides and valleys glistened with a wet haze from early morning showers.
We met at the vineyard with the groom, the wedding planner and the caterer. We carefully parsed logistics and details.
While tasting and confirming the beautifully prepared and plated rustic menu options, we chose the linens and table settings.
Laid upon a crisp white table cloth, a dove grey napkin was folded across the white salad and dinner plates. The napkin was “garnished” with a sprig of dusky green olive tree leaves. The crystal glasses and the country french silverware sparkled.
I loved every minute of it. I savored it all.
“We are celebrating already,” I realized.
Now that’s a thought worth thinking! It feels so good. It’s a keeper.
Thanks, brain, for recognizing and welcoming all the excitement and joy already uplifting us.
COVID-19 has up-ended everything we’ve taken for granted about personal freedom.
- Social distancing. Is it 3 feet or 6 feet?
- Self-isolation. Is that the same thing as self-quarantine?
- How much is too much personal contact?
- Schools and universities are closed for the rest of the academic year.
- Offices and businesses are closed or functioning on minimal staff, but for how long?
- Restaurants and bars are closed except for delivery and take-out.
Planning a wedding in the midst of fast-breaking COVID-19 news is nothing less than surreal.
It has challenged and changed everything we thought we knew about about gatherings and celebrations.
Even while we were planning how the seats would be arranged and best perspectives for photos. And that their friend would play “Harvest Moon” on his ukulele as they walked down a center aisle. And we were deciding about food, linens and silverware, we clearly understood the gravity of the situation.
The juxtaposition hurt our hearts.
We asked ourselves, “How can you have a wedding celebration and maintain social distancing? No hugging or kissing? No dancing the hora? What about the elders?”
While marveling over the beautiful wedding weekend we had long anticipated, we gently touched on possible alternative plans.
Social distancing will probably be a reality of our lives for months or even years to come. Wedding celebrations must change to recognize a new normal. Gatherings of any size are out of the question as the pandemic rages across our planet.
In the end it, even though the wedding would be outside, with the focus on “community”, we couldn’t imagine a wedding where social distancing was properly respected.
We couldn’t imagine our senior family members, myself included, exposed to unnecessary risks, both in the traveling and in the being there.
While no final decisions were made over the weekend, all signs pointed toward the obvious next step.
It’s so hard to even write the words. So I won’t. But it was evident to all of us that we understand the high stakes.
Slowing COVID-19’s progress ultimately increases our chances of surviving the pandemic.
Protecting the integrity of our medical system is essential. Without a robust medical system in tact, we are handing down a death sentence to untold numbers among us.
By slowing the progress of COVID-19, we are preserving the capacities of our medical system and care givers.
Providers need access to protective gear. Patients need access to respirators and ventilators.
If the medical system is crushed with a high volume of urgent need, it will collapse. Many unnecessary deaths will follow.
We have no idea how long restrictions will be in force.
I encouraged my daughter to marry her man now. The bride and groom are considering how to make that happen in a way that still honors the dignity and joy of a wedding.
When the day comes that we are able to celebrate as one big family, we will.
For now, we must love what is true in the world and of most value and protect it: Love, family, and connection.
We may not be able to express ourselves in gatherings and celebrations, but we humans are an inventive bunch.
We can use the internet, video platforms like Zoom and Skype, our phones, Facetime, emails, snail mail to reach out and virtually “touch” someone.
Do it. Do it often and with great love.
Are you suffering from COVID-19 anxiety or fear?
I can help you unravel what is disturbing you.
You can learn helpful ways to manage your mind during this crisis.
You can learn how to say NO to thoughts and ruminations that unnerve and scare you.
You can think intentional thoughts that give you courage and empower you to carry on with purpose and determination.
Let’s go, my friend. Let me know you’re ready for your FREE strategy call by clicking this link.
You can start to feel better despite the global crisis raging right outside our doors.