Absolutely everyone has a story to tell on how this pandemic is impacting their lives. You see, tomorrow is the day that our son and his beautiful fiancé were due to marry – Saturday 28th March 2020. Instead, we are in lockdown, protecting our health and the health of others, and even though you may not read this, I’m going to write about the events of the last three weeks – call it therapy.
Coronavirus impacted our family for the first time with the realisation that our international visitors were going to miss the wedding due to the mandatory 14 day quarantine on arrival into Australia. Two sets of grandparents, an uncle, a friend and a groomsman had to cancel their trips.
Following our Government’s advice to avoid all international travel, the bride and groom had no choice but to cancel their honeymoon trip to Bali. We picked ourselves up, dusted off the disappointment, and forged ahead with plans for the wedding minus international guests and the prospect of a domestic honeymoon which isn’t bad at all given the beautiful and diverse nature of this wonderful country we live in.
A few days later, the Australian Government announced a reduction to the number of people who could attend a social gathering to 100 – that was okay; with a guest list hovering around the 80 mark, we would be okay. Next came the reduction to the number of people who could gather at events inside to a maximum of 50 – we’d either cull the guest list or have the event outside; Autumn in the Adelaide Hills is a wonderful time of year. By then, it was looking increasingly unlikely that the wedding venue would be able to host the wedding, given further restrictions to licenced premises.
The real panic started to set-in when Australian states and territories, decided to close borders; the first being the Northern Territory; with only four cases of Coronavirus at the time, they wanted to keep it that way. The bride’s mother lives in Darwin (NT) and this new restriction would mean 14 days self-isolation on her return flight.
I was due to fly to Adelaide two days before the wedding and Chief the day before. Imagine our panic when last Sunday, the South Australian Government announced that it too was closing its borders at 4 pm Tuesday 25th March, and every arrival after that point in time would have to self-isolate for 14 days! We just had to get to Adelaide before this border control was enforced. I was able to change my flight to Monday 24th and flew to Adelaide before the border closure came into being. Chief was not so lucky and neither too the bride’s mother whose flight was cancelled, and was left frantically looking for an alternative option.
So now I’m in Adelaide with our children and although I felt calmer being with them, nothing felt right. Deep down I knew this was not going to have a favourable outcome. How much worse could this get? I’ll tell you.
The accommodation booked for the bridal party decided to cancel and turf them out, the reason being the hosts wanted it for their own family to stay in. These are not the sort of issues a bride and groom-to-be should be dealing with the week before their wedding. Shouldn’t it be deciding who to sit Great Aunt Nelly next to, and ironing out the speeches and vows?
We decided it was time to put a Plan B into action; a new venue (an Airbnb property with a spacious garden) just for close family – a little ‘do’ in the garden; there was a lovely view, the weather forecast was favourable, we could easily hire tables and chairs and the family guests could BYO booze and a plate to share (a plate to share is an Australian term for a plate of food to share; not to be confused with a lack of crockery!)
What else could possibly stand in the way of these nuptials? I’ll tell you.
On Tuesday evening our Prime Minister announced that wedding ceremonies were to be limited to a maximum of 5 people; that’s the couple, a celebrant and two witnesses. With a celebrant who has recently given birth, and rightly so, taking health precautions, no bride’s mother and no groom’s father, no grandparents, minus a groomsman, no venue and no guests, the wedding was kind of ‘off’. This left the only option of heading to the local registry office to wed and that may well still be an option, leaving the celebrations for when the world returns to ‘normal’ whatever that is going to look like.
I cannot begin to describe the disappointment we are all feeling right now; it is so sad; the stress, the anxiety is all up there, like a tight-rope walker with no safety net, we are feeling it.
I had planned to stay in Adelaide for just under three weeks, spending a few days holiday with my parents and in-laws, culminating in our daughter’s graduation; I’ve never been to a graduation ceremony. I was not clever enough to go to university, needless to say, I was so looking forward to that – I know that I would have burst with pride and turned into an annoying social media mother, showing off my daughter’s achievements; my moment to be proud. All of this, as our lives, has been put on indefinate hold.
The Queensland government locked down borders while I was in Adelaide, so now on my return, I’ll be self-isolating for 14 days; ‘self-isolate’ a term we were not at all familiar with until a few weeks ago. I received notice that my scheduled return flight on 3rd April had been cancelled and that I would receive a voucher to use at a later date; this was a worry – did it mean that I was to remain in Adelaide for the forseeable future? I called our national airline and after a hold time of just shy of three hours, managed to get myself on a flight the following day.
I know that you are wondering why the wedding wasn’t just postponed when the plans all started to fall apart; why put your health and the health of others at risk? – such a selfish attitude! Maybe it was naive of us to think we could go ahead with a little bit of ‘normal’ at a time when life isn’t normal, and in the hope of not losing out on a large financial commitment in these uncertain times.
As I write this, I am flying however-many-thousands-of-feet above Australia in a near-empty plane heading to my confined lock-down for a couple of weeks. Chief and I will be living in different rooms, our children in a different state and our parents in a different country. We will do our best to restrict the contact we have with each other and the contact we have with the people around us, knowing that in all of this disappointment, our health and the health of our most vulnerable citizens is of paramount importance. So while we follow the directions of our authorities and look to new ways of keeping in touch with our loved ones, work colleagues and neighbours, it’s time to take stock, to put on hold two year’s worth of plans, to appreciate our health, to pray that none of us go down with this deadly virus, and to appreciate that love really will conquer all.