A couple months ago, I was supposed to attend my best friend's wedding. For years, I remember Maggie and I planning what our future weddings would look like— and now, her dreams were finally coming true. She was going to marry her college boyfriend in the backyard of her parents' house, surrounded by forty to fifty of her closest friends and relatives. In the weeks leading up to April (the initial date of the ceremony), we had spent hours poring over the preparations, making sure everything was perfect. This wedding was extremely special for the both of us.
We both had no siblings, but Maggie also didn’t have any cousins on her mother's side. For her maternal grandparents, this would be the only wedding of their grandchild that they would ever witness. Knowing this, the emotion that went into planning the wedding increased tenfold. We both wanted this to be one of the happiest memories for both her and her family.
Her maternal grandparents lived in Texas, so there were only two options to get them over to New York. They could either take a four hour flight or go on a twenty-six hour road trip across state lines. Before COVID really hit, the plan was that a family member would fly to Texas and assist Maggie’s grandparents on their flight to New York, seeing as they were both almost ninety. We were all ecstatic to have found a way to get her grandma and grandpa to attend without too much of an inconvenience. But the coronavirus undoubtedly trainwrecked those plans. Both Texas and New York started to become the third and fourth most impacted states in the country. Local flights to and from both destinations started getting delayed, re-routed, and cancelled. Twice, Maggie’s grandparents’ tickets were re-grouped and re-allocated.
And then another concern arose. Not only were flights hard to come by, but we all became concerned of the huge health risks that could be imposed on her grandparents via air travel. The fact that they were both elderly, thus more susceptible to the virus, only added to the tension. Eventually, we reached the conclusion that air travel would be too risky for their health; there was no way of knowing where all the other people in the airport or plane might have traveled to or come from. But the problem was that they couldn’t drive either. There was no way Maggie’s grandparents would be able to make a twenty six-hour road trip by themselves. The only option was to push back the wedding by a couple weeks. But a couple weeks turned into a month which then turned into two months. Suddenly, it was mid-July and the wedding plans were still at a halt.
Maggie’s grandparents didn’t want to feel like an obstacle holding her back from getting married, so her family made the heartbreaking decision to move ahead with the ceremony. The initial party of fifty whittled down to just twelve of us. As I walked down the makeshift aisle as Maggie’s maid of honor, I felt so happy she was committing to the love of her life but so bittersweet as I watched the sad faces of her grandparents via Zoom. Maggie was still able to get married amidst the pandemic, but the coronavirus had robbed her grandparents of seeing their only grandchild experience what should have been the happiest moment of her life.
Written by: Debi Chakrabortti