Where’s My Rose Garden Celebration?

Photo credit: Alex Brandon, Associated Press

From a distance, doesn’t this look a little like a wedding to you?

The rows of chairs in a garden setting. The two sides — bride’s and groom’s. A man and a woman standing in front of the assembled guests. (Not to say that all weddings are between men and women, although with the future Supreme Court who knows…?) The pretty white flowers everywhere. Photographers and videographers on the side. Everyone all dressed up for the happy occasion.

We all know this photo is actually of the Super Spreader event announcing the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to our nation’s highest court. What we actually do not know is how many people were infected, because the White House refused to allow the CDC to do contact tracing. But it’s certain that the virus has spread through the White House, the military high command, and God knows where else.

So why the wedding comparison? Because my husband and I weren’t there when my daughter got married this summer. Because we couldn’t be. Because of the coronavirus and the global pandemic. My daughter’s wedding ceremony was held in Seattle. We live in New York. The long-planned big wedding with families and friends joyously celebrating together couldn’t be held safely. At first, the wedding was postponed. But it became increasingly clear that Covid wasn’t going away for the foreseeable future. My daughter and her now-husband didn’t want to wait indefinitely.

They got married in their backyard on a warm summer evening; five people in attendance, and that includes the bride and groom. The others were the officiant and the two required witnesses. The couple’s dog sported a bow tie and my daughter baked her own wedding cake. There was no Zooming because it just would have been too painful. My daughter and her husband were adamant that this wasn’t the “real” wedding, just the legal paperwork until they could celebrate with the people they love.

Our family, like most families, loves and protects each other. We also don’t want to endanger others.

Families have made far bigger sacrifices than canceling weddings. The deaths, the long-term disabilities, the lost jobs, and more. Not seeing grandparents, elderly parents, far-away children, grandchildren, not holding newborns. Most painful — not being able to be present when a beloved family member dies. My own niece and nephew said goodbye to their father — an early Covid victim — on a Facetime call, with the hospital chaplain holding the phone up in the ICU.

That Rose Garden photo galls me. And yeah, it’s one idiocy on top of so many others. But it was particularly painful. The carelessness. The cruelty.

I am not one of those mothers who’d dreamt of watching my beautiful daughter walk down the aisle in a long white gown (though before the virus, she had bought a lovely one). Whether it was a huge formal affair, or a City Hall wedding honestly made no difference to me. Live music or a DJ. Whatever. An elegant catered affair or a food truck — all good. There was just one thing that mattered: that we would be together at this wonderful, life-altering moment.

We didn’t get our Rose Garden celebration. We’ll get over that loss too. But what do I do with my rage?

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