Weddings are always a special occasion, but for my fiancé, Fred, and me, our nuptials this October will be more meaningful than we could have ever imagined when we began planning our wedding in January 2020.
Fred and I met at our mutual friends’ annual holiday party in December 2014. We quickly discovered we both love simple pleasures of going on vigorous walks, a good home cooked meal, and spending time together. Our romance was a surprise to both of us. Fred is a very young in spirit septuagenarian, and a widower whose late wife, Patty, died unexpectedly from cancer five years before we met. For my part, I’ve never been married before, and I raised my daughter as a single parent. Regardless of our different paths, it was clear to both of us early in our relationship that we had found a permanent partner in each other.
Fred is a good, steady person. He was a former social worker in state mental health facilities, so he often remains calm in tough situations. He’s in better shape than nearly anyone I’ve ever met, and because he’s so fit, he’s often mistaken for someone in his 50s. Fred is someone who loves discovering where roads go. He’ll often bike for miles and miles just out of pure interest! He’s kind, generous, and a fun partner.
In January, we decided it was time to take the next step in our relationship, and we began planning a wedding for Oct. 10, 2020. Throughout February, we anticipated a big celebration with all our loved ones, and I was so excited to be a bride and marry such a wonderful man.
As is common to the season, Fred caught what we thought was as cold in early March. But I watched as the once active, energetic Fred was slowly weakening under a simple cough. As the rest of the nation sheltered in their homes and began to understand this new reality, we received the news: Fred had been exposed to and likely contracted COVID-19. Tests later confirmed this suspicion. Like everyone else, we knew very little about Covid-19. We didn’t know what we should be doing or what we could expect. He was part of a vulnerable demographic, but he was in incredible shape. It was surreal, and everything after that news changed so quickly.
One moment, Fred was mostly himself, if fatigued, and the next day, literally overnight, we had to rush him to the hospital. In mid-March, during that tense time in the emergency room we learned Fred had bilateral pneumonia. What we didn’t know is that he would spend the next 12 days fighting to breathe in the hospital. To say it was a roller coaster of emotion is an understatement. For several days he seemed to improve. Then, late one night Fred called: he was going into the ICU to be intubated, and he didn’t know when he would be coming out.
At some point in our many conversations before he went to ICU, we talked around the edges of what scared us most. Would he make it through Covd-19? I told him not to worry, “you promised to make me a bride and you will.”
It was hard not to break down thinking about how rapidly everything had changed from planning our wedding to that phone call before ICU. Those were some of the most challenging weeks we faced, and I couldn’t visit, check in on him, and make sure he was doing okay. I waited for calls, and together, we waited out the virus.
Then I received another call. It was from Fred. He was strong enough to breathe on his own again and was leaving ICU! A few days later, I finally heard the news I had been waiting for: Fred was coming home.
It was a huge win for Fred, but he came home in a completely different state, as the virus made him weaker than I had ever seen him. Despite his desire to pick up where he had left off and get back to his biking and walking, I was nervous to let him go on his own. Eventually, though, Fred went back to his old ways even biking 30 miles on his own! It’s amazing to see how he has recovered. From what we can tell, there is no permanent damage to his lungs, and we could not be more thrilled.
And Fred has kept his promise. We’re still getting married on Oct. 10, but by April, we realized that the big wedding we had envisioned wasn’t going to happen. We’ve scaled back significantly, and like any other bride and groom, we’re excited about our ceremony, the food, and our first dance as husband and wife. We hope to have a larger celebration next year on our first anniversary — with continued safety precautions, of course.
This entire experience has been humbling for Fred and me. It’s emphasized how important it is to prepare for the unexpected, and it’s not lost on me that we’re incredibly lucky to have this ending. Others haven’t been as lucky as us. This pandemic has been tough. I’m so thankful for where Fred and I are today and how his health continues to improve.
A special thank you to my Promise Law team and my loved ones for their support. And to Fred: I cannot wait to finally be your bride.