The warm glow in the sky announced the sun’s presence, as it gracefully crested the mountain tops, casting a rosy blush over the surface of the ocean. A breeze swept softly off the water, cleansing the air with a salty bouquet. Two bald eagles sat in the treetops watching the figures below encroach on the water’s edge, their feet sinking into the gentle sand. The crowds that usually permeated the beach were still sleeping, perhaps just waking up to a new day. A skein of geese skimmed over the water just before the bride and groom took their vows. It was a perfect day for a beautiful ceremony. I know because I was the bride, and this was my pandemic wedding.
The proposal came from my partner (and number one cheerleader) at Christmas 2018. A month before, I had been accepted into a prestigious one-year writing program with The Writer’s Studio and was also offered another role in a theatre show. 2019 was shaping up to be a remarkably busy year. The wedding plans simmered over that year, and when I graduated at the end of 2019, we worked on giving our plans life. 2020 was going to be our wedding year – instead, it became the year of the pandemic.
Graduations, weddings, birthday parties, anniversaries, even just groups of friends celebrating life all came to a screeching halt. It seemed 2020 would not be the year of celebrations – it became the year of hiding away in our own private bubbles. My graduation from the Writer’s Studio was cancelled; our wedding was postponed, possibly for another year. People lost their jobs, their lives, their loved ones, and their stability, as we all tried to navigate a new world.
In the midst of our isolation, we learned how to re-invent our lives, just as those with RA or other chronic illness have to do with a new diagnosis. The new world came with a new craving for inventiveness and appreciation of the little moments. I found an unusual peace in a decelerated world. We established a new work/home life, had online cocktail hours with friends, went for daily walks in our neighborhood; we spent evenings reading books on our patio, watched a comet streak through star-filled skies, and enjoyed sunsets with home cooked food and good wine. We reorganized our home and steered our creative lives in a new direction – and this included recreating our wedding plans, Covid style.
It was not what we originally planned, but for a pandemic wedding, it was perfect. Our small social distance group came down before sunrise on a Saturday morning to join us in our celebration. The weather smiled on us, as did two bald eagles watching from their perch high up in the trees. It is said the eagle is a symbol of freedom and courage, and carries the message of new life, a change in life or creative endeavours.
As in living life with RA, all is not lost. A pandemic life or a life with chronic illness is not an ideal life, but neither is it an impossible life. It takes work and a little bit of ingenuity to take a small world and expand it. We can all be the shooting stars of our own universe. We can travel in the familiar and embrace unique ways to imagine our life. There is still beauty to be found, even in such a challenging year as 2020.