I replied to an email on Wednesday “I’m getting married next week!” without the gravity of that statement fully setting in. It was purely logistical, letting someone know I wouldn’t be around, and when they responded back excited for me it was a needed reminder: hey, this is exciting. July 18 has felt like a dream that would never come true for so, so long and all of a sudden – it’s next week. Next week! I’m getting married next week.
When I got engaged, I did what would surprise no one who knows me: started reading & researching every list possible of “What to do When You’re Engaged” and “Timeline to the Wedding” and nonsense like that. I quickly found out I was much behind schedule: we had a 9 month engagement but one carefully curated timeline explained I should have started trying out nail polish colors at the 12 month mark, so to have chosen my color by month 10. Another timeline had a bridal skincare routine that started 16 months before the wedding. All of my research reinforced what I already knew: wedding culture is bonkers.
Let me be clear: I was never going to be the kind of bride who stressed about nail polish color (or even thought about it) more than 2 weeks before the big day. But this week, the week before our wedding and the week the hell that is 2020 has continued on in full force, I thought about all those silly lists with a deep longing. How I wish something as little as nail polish could be the thing stressing me out. How I wish nail polish had even had a chance to cross my mind in the past few months.
I’m 9 days from being married and I have no idea what my makeup or hair will look like, let alone if my nails will be painted a certain color (if at all). When you cancelled your wedding due to a pandemic, have slowly watched local covid levels rise to the point that you wonder if you’ll even have an elopement – all your energy is spent hoping you just get to walk down that aisle. (Metaphorically, as there will be no actual aisle in the park that we are hoping to elope at…)
Getting married during a pandemic is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
No one knows what to say to you, no one knows how to comfort you – which, to be clear: there’s nothing you can do to comfort someone whose wedding was cancelled by a pandemic. There just isn’t. You can try your best, but you will fail. Even the few “covid couples” we know (somehow both me and my brother had 2020 weddings!) are the only people who can use the phrase “I understand what you’re going through” – and even they can’t help. Misery loves company, to be sure, but company can’t fix it. It doesn’t mean your day won’t be special or beautiful or wonderful in its own way – but it won’t be the wedding you planned, expected, or felt entitled to. It just won’t.
And some days the pandemic didn’t even feel like that worst part of this season. Adjusting to a new job that never got better, RJ’s second year of residency perpetually got harder, a house remodel that never ended, family drama kept hitting an all time high – only to be followed by a new all time high. Monday night I was in the ER with abdominal pain, trying to figure out if I had a hernia or an ulcer, and it laughably felt like the most fitting way to spend the evening 12 days before our wedding. Of course. Of course this is happening. Of course I don’t know if I’ll even be able to walk down the aisle at this point, or will be hobbling down holding my stomach (as I have been all week). Again, metaphorical aisle here, because apparently a real one is just too much to ask for at this point.
As this season has continued to hold so many high highs and so many low lows, Ecclesiastes 3 has haunted me. I see it on Instagram, I hear it in sermons. A time for everything. But this season has felt like all the seasons, at once. It’s been both the time to plant and the time to uproot, the time to keep and the time to throw away. One season shouldn’t hold so much, right? No one should have to go through all of this?
A time of so much celebration should never hold this much pain. A time of building should never need so much destruction. A time for dancing shouldn’t come with so much weeping. A time of hope can’t possibly be partnered with this much despair. Right? Right??
I have spent so much energy wishing this wasn’t my reality, questioning the cruel universe or God’s sense of humor that brought this to be. I went to weddings upon weddings upon weddings for friends. I showed up and I showered people and I was told again and again “Wait till it’s your turn!!” And… here we are.
What are the odds?? and WHY?! and a million other questions I’ve asked over and over again. As our wedding inched closer people asked if I was excited and I would shrug my shoulders and say, “It feels like nothing can be counted on this year”. Excitement feels like a pre-Covid emotion I’m not sure I’m even capable of anymore. Everything that I would once have been eagerly looking forward to has a tinge of sadness now. My re-scheduled bachelorlette weekend without one of my very best friends. Our last-minute couples showers that were scarcely attended. Our private elopement that will be so special …but was never meant to be private. It was supposed to be a moment shared with 200 of our friends and family.
How can one season hold so much happiness and sadness? How can you feel simultaneously numb to every feeling and stressed out of your mind? How can there be a time for this? There can’t possibly.
And yet as our wedding draws closer, day by day, and life just gets more crazy, day by day (I got a parking ticket IN MY DRIVEWAY this week – hi, universe, are you kidding me?) – I think: this season is so much. This season is ridiculous. This season is unfair. This season is cruel beyond belief. And also? This season is ours.
This is our season of rebuilding. This is our season of heartache. This is our season of pain and purpose and purchasing too many throw pillows on Amazon. This season of engagement is unlike anyone else’s. I’ve hated it so much, and yet I strangely love it – because it’s been us, together.
This has been our season of making decisions that will shape our family. This has been our season to make choices that build our home. This has been our season to live in the strange now-and-not-yet of engagement: preparing to be one but still not quite one yet.
It’s been hell multiplied. It’s been more than we can take, and then some. It’s been way too much. And it’s ours.