I thought I’d be walking down the aisle today.
Yes — that aisle. With my hair and makeup done, tears in my eyes, holding a lovely bouquet and wearing a gorgeous dress I’ve been waiting to show off since August.
It is hilarious, now, to consider how much stress was expended during the past eleven months on completely immaterial concerns. The possibility of foot pain from wearing brand-new shoes all day. Guests who might not be on their best behaviour. Questions of whether anyone’s heritage was being snubbed by the inclusion or exclusion of a particular song from the DJ’s playlist. And, of course, there was the big question of how much sun we might be able to count on — no bride wants her guests to be shivering as they wait for her to meander down the aisle of a patio on a golf course in a month that can be pretty moody, weather-wise.
The stress pivoted in March, spiked in April, and gave way to a dangerous cocktail of melancholy and rage by the time May rolled around. At first, I didn’t anticipate any kind of lockdown lasting for more than a few weeks. I made a point of getting my last fitting done and dropping my gown off at a dry cleaner’s on March 19, when most businesses were still open, so that it would at least be ready to go at a moment’s notice. Whenever friends checked in on me, I stated that Alex and I were just trying to control what we could control, and trying not to worry about what we couldn’t control. One friend of mine, scheduled to get married on May 9 on the same beautiful patio, was worried that there wouldn’t be enough time for the finishing touches of his wedding planning to fall into place by the time businesses opened back up — and I actually thought at first that this was an overreaction. His wedding, after all, was still seven weeks away.
I should pause here and point out that my partner and I are comforted by the fact that many other couples are strapped into the same rollercoaster we’re on, and the ones we know have become an important source of support. (I mean, this would be some next-level panic if, for some reason, only our wedding plans had been tossed into a wood-chipper and every other large event could go ahead as planned.) In addition to the couple tying the knot the week before us, one of my church/music friends is ready to go on July 17th (in a venue large enough to accommodate plenty of extra space between guests, so I maintain hope that she and her fiancé can keep their date); and one of my bridesmaids has already moved her own destination wedding from this August to next May.
So there we (all) were, resigned to the fact that some adjustments and re-planning were likely. My bridal shower was given up on first … then, so was the shopping trip for the mother of the groom to choose her outfit … next to be wiped off the calendar were our respective bachelor and bachelorette weekends. I started telling people that I wasn’t above having these events after the wedding, if that’s the way it had to be (and I still refuse to be denied them completely, so just roll your eyes good-naturedly if/when I try to make the post-wedding-party-weekend-without-your-spouse into a thing). I was set up to work from home; church services and theatre rehearsals moved online; the number of countries cancelling their yearly carnivals started to go up as the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Italy, then the global epicentre of the epidemic, horrified the world.
I don’t remember at what point I realized May 16th wasn’t going to be the dream of a wedding day I’d been working toward since September and dreaming of for decades. Sometime in mid-April, probably. Hope had persisted for so long — I mean, we were so close, all the plans were practically done! Of course, as I have been reminded numerous times since March: “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him about your plans.” I’ve heard that saying, or versions of it, too many times to count over the years — and not until the garbage fire that is 2020 came around did hearing it make me want to scream as much as I do now.
Talk of wanting to scream usually leads to well-meaning friends and relatives offering a gentle or cheerful reminder that everything happens for a reason, or that God is in control. Yes, I am aware that everything — life, death, war, viruses, each individual human, each individual insect or piece of kelp or grain of sand — is in God’s hands. This knowledge does not currently comfort me. In fact, I’m the first to admit that many of my reactions to all this … like, say, intense envy of already-married couples whose wedding plans were never threatened by a pandemic, meaning they could choose instead to argue about stupid things like charger plates … are decidedly un-Christian. I also feel silly and selfish when I reflect on how much airtime I give to my wedding-related concerns, knowing there are folks with zero income while my paycheque simply got smaller without disappearing. (Plus, my commute has shrunk to ten seconds.) Knowing there are literally thousands of people dying and I’m perfectly healthy aside from a sore foot and a recurring headache. Knowing there are people all over the world who — and this is true every day of every year — would give literally anything to trade their problems for mine.
So. While I know myself too well to promise I won’t complain anymore, I am looking forward to having a dinner date with Alex in a few hours: on May 16th of 2020, with a venue change and a modified guest list. Wearing my comfiest pair of slippers.
Oh, and the weather today, despite steady rain yesterday and for the next three days, is clear and sunny and about 20 degrees. In other words, perfect.