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The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted millions around the world to make sacrifices in an effort to help flatten the curve of the virus’s spread. For some, this means potentially not seeing high-risk loved ones for weeks on end. For others it’s postponing vacations and weddings they’ve been dreaming about.
Katie Russell and her husband Brand Alexander Newland were among those whose weddings were impacted by the novel coronavirus. The pair were scheduled marry on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula this month. They had been planning for more than a year.
Due to COVID-19, the couple felt it was the “socially responsible” thing to cancel their destination wedding, opting to be married by a judge on a baseball field, just a few blocks from their home in Austin, Texas on March 17.
“In the end, it was just him and I, which is the most important thing,” Russell told TODAY. “Of course, I’m disappointed. I think a sudden loss of something you’ve been envisioning for a long time is always challenging.”
While Russell said she could “never have imagined” having to cancel her wedding in front of friends and family due to a global pandemic, the newlywed said the decision was an easy one to make.
“I waited 43 years to get married. Some say that’s a long time. I would have waited as long as it took to find Brand. But now that I found him, I didn’t want to wait a second more...,” Russell wrote in an Instagram post.
Russel said the universe has been “preparing” her for this moment, and went on to share the lessons life has taught her along the way that allowed her to accept and appreciate her intimate wedding day.
Russell said she learned to “let go of material things” in 2005 after her family lost everything during Hurricane Katrina. A few years later her mother was diagnosed with cancer and died in 2009 — which taught Russell that “life is fragile.” Soon after, Russell herself was diagnosed with blood cancer and was quarantined for nine months due to a low white blood cell count. During recovery, there was a period of time where she was unable to walk.
Through her own cancer journey, she said learned patience and how to be alone.
Although disappointed about her wedding, Russell said she knows she will be given new life lessons from this experience.
“One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned out of these unfortunate events is that when things are out of my control, I can still choose how I respond,” she explained. “I choose love.”
Russell wrote that she chooses to feel love for medical professionals “putting themselves in harms way,” for the elderly in nursing homes who won’t receive any visitors and for the children who are missing school meals, which might be “their only guaranteed meal each day.”
Russell is set to release her memoir “A Season With Mom: Love, Loss, and the Ultimate Baseball Adventure” in 2021. The book chronicles her journey to visit all 30 major league baseball parks in one season honour of her late mother.
Since she shared her post to social media, Russell said she has received messages from brides who have also had to make the decision to call off their weddings.
“Some women have been saying, ‘My family didn’t understand why I wasn’t more devastated, and you gave me the words to explain it,’” Russell said. “It’s nice to feel you’re not alone when everything we’re having to do in self-quarantine makes you feel that way.”