"In matters of the heart it is always better to want something you don't have than to have something you don't want."
~ Patti LaBelle
Breaking up is hard to do. Especially wearing a mask. Especially from six feet away.
My daughter, after weathering separation from her first real love while away at school, discovered that their virtual relationship apart during the school year did not hold up well to a virtual relationship once they were forced to lock down at home.
Over the spring months, they managed to see each other once the extended period of quarantine offered a guarded sense of safety. But the stifled time together intermingled with longer periods of isolated reflection revealed troublesome differences that became hard to contain. At least for my daughter.
The break up was tearful and painful and hurtful. Despite their best efforts, resentment went viral and distancing was no longer social.
But that was spring. A wounded heart grows stronger in the summer sun. And what had locked down love is now a wiser place to safely open her heart. This is what she told me.
I love that about her.
Her twin brother has a new girlfriend. His loneliness and isolation after also being sent home from school during the COVID outbreak tempted him to an online dating and relationship site where women comfortably make the first move. And one did. And it soon blossomed beyond the desire for longer video chats late into the night.
Now what? I asked. How does this work when COVID-19 is an unwanted chaperone? Do I need to talk to you about protection?
When I had to explain to him it was a social distance joke, I knew it was serious.
Don’t worry, he said. She contracted it. Before I met her. She was sick for a week but is perfectly healthy and has antibodies. And she just tested negative.
Sometimes cupid's arrow is fast and true to its mark. Even if it is a little too clinical.
My son smiles a lot now. He seems to be preoccupied all the time. He borrows the car and picks her up on warm summer nights. They talk and laugh and eat take out in safe, outdoor spaces. And hang in the moonlight.
Such is COVID romance.
Can you die of a broken heart?
After reaching out to an old acquaintance to see how he was faring amid the COVID crisis, my wife learned through a sad and short email exchange that he had just been diagnosed with an extremely rare heart condition.
He was going into the hospital the next day and politely asked if he could talk further at a later date.
We were shocked to discover that his heart was literally broken. It wasn’t working. And it was fatal. When imminent cardiac arrest is the underlying condition, risk from COVID is of lesser concern.
He resurfaced by email several weeks later. His trip to the hospital had been timely. Through a fortuitous set of circumstances he became the recipient of a donor heart just when his need became critcal. The transplant was successful and he was sending his love from cardiac rehab during the middle of a worldwide pandemic.
Greetings from extended quarantine. Having a wonderful time. Glad you are not here.
A few weeks ago my wife and I attended a destination wedding. In this case, the destination was a laptop computer in our kitchen. Along with a dozen other muted window guests seated in rows across the screen, we watched a beautiful backyard wedding ceremony in California with a view from a table top next to some flowers.
The bride wore white. The groom wore black. The officiant wore a mask. And the guests wore Zoom blue.
I was wearing nice pants below my dress shirt, but I can’t vouch for anyone else.
Like nearly half a million couples planning summer weddings this year, one of the most momentous occasions of their new life together had been put through the COVID blender and reconstituted purposefully and creatively as a virtual wedding.
It was not what they had dreamed. It was not what they had hoped. But it was beautiful nonetheless. And champaign and toasts to happiness can occur on either side of a computer screen with equal joy.
Celebrations of love and commitment can be delayed, but they can never be diminished. Judging by the happiness the couple exuded, the only significant wedding plans that had to be rearranged were their expectations.
They also had to hire a wedding IT planner.
And a Sixpence in Your Shoe
It is nice to know that in this oddball time we live in, things are still the same.
In matters of the heart, normal is always new.