First Year of Marriage and the Pandemic

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First Year of Marriage and the Pandemic

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I got married on May 11, 2019. There were no masks and no need to distance from each other.
In July 2019, I got my first job working for my grandma as her caretaker. Since I had graduated ASU, I didn't have much going on, and I needed some way to occupy myself, as well as make money. I did things such as picking the oranges that would fall from the trees in her backyard and trash them so the area would look nicer. I cooked, I cleaned, and I assisted her in computer tasks that she didn't understand how to do.
In December of 2019, my grandma had a few unfortunate things happen to her. First, she got pneumonia and had to be taken to the emergency room. She survived, but was weak. Later on, she ended up falling, and was then taken to a care center so that she could regain her strength and do physical therapy. When my grandma came back from the care center in January, I had a new job. Learning from what the physical therapist taught me, I used the exercise recommendations for her and helped her walk better again. It was no easy task, as my grandma can be quite stubborn, but luckily, she was willing to take direction from me in order to move around easier. We have been doing the physical therapy as part of her daily routine ever since.
Due to my grandma's worsening condition, my mom and dad decided to move to my grandma's house in January, leaving the apartment mostly to me and my husband. This change was greatly welcomed, and it felt like we could experience married life without my family intervening nearly as much. Overall, January was a pretty good month for me and my husband.
One of the biggest events that happened to me before the virus was the death of one of my cousins. On February 11, 2020, he commit suicide. It was a jarring experience. He had lived nearby with his wife and kid and helped install new electrical outlets in the apartment me and my husband were sharing with my parents until a new apartment opened in that same complex. Despite this, we were able to have a normal funeral, which was nice since it gave me some closure. I mostly felt bad for his wife and kid he left behind, since they would now have to figure out how to continue without him. By the time February hit, I was well aware of the virus by this time, but I was sure that majority of the problem was in China. Earlier that month, I had gone to the Dominican Republic to do some volunteer work, as I knew how to speak Spanish. I noticed travel restrictions to and from China at that time, and thought that the travel restrictions could help. This is why I mostly thought the pandemic was mostly China's problem.
This idea was quickly changed when March hit. When March 2020 hit and there was a declaration of national emergency, I was very stressed by it. I kept on having images flash in my head of empty grocery aisles that I've seen from social media. Due to the panic that had occurred over the national emergency declaration, the grocery store in my area was completely out of eggs, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer, and the meat aisle was nearly emptied. There were rations on the amount of canned goods you could get. Me and my husband were able to grab a few, some of which my husband said were the "good ones that no one wanted". After that, my anxiety lessened and I felt like I could handle it. I was wrong, as I was not expecting full lockdowns later that month.
By the time April came along, the lockdowns felt so severe to me that I couldn't escape anywhere. Bedsides my husband having to comfort me, one of the only things keeping me sane was the job of working for my grandma. I became even more thankful for that job since had I gotten a job in the service industry, or even a basic office job, I would have likely been let go due to being too new. Additionally, I was working full-time for a while, so money wasn't as much of an issue for me as it was before I had gotten the job. April was also when I had one of my worst anxiety attacks, and so to help me, my husband took me out to get some fast food and eat in a parking lot in order to not feel so enclosed.
March felt similar to April. The big difference here though was that my brother had to come back from his LDS Church mission six months earlier due to the pandemic, so we ended up having someone new to live with when he got back. One of the nice things my family did, since church services were changed due to the virus, was having by brother bless the sacrament, as he had the authority to do so. By dressing for church and having it at my grandma's home, I was able to feel a bit more normal again, which helped me reduce my anxiety.
When May hit, it was me and my husband's one year anniversary. For this special occasion, I booked an Italian restaurant and were able to dine-in for the first time in months. As more places started to open up, I felt my anxiety decrease, as I knew I could enjoy more things again.
I am now writing this all in December 2020. The endless monotony of living without as many places to go has made this year feel like both the longest and shortest year that I have experienced. I know that things will change and things will go back to normal, and that is one of the things that is keeping me happy. My anxiety is the worst it has ever been this year due to the restrictions on everyday life, but I've learned that I can live through it, with the help of my husband. This was a trying year for many people's marriages, and to have this experience within the first year of marriage has made me realize how much I depend on my husband, but also that we can get through many tough things together.

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This item was submitted on December 9, 2020 by Haley Thomas using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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