My heart sank. My mind was in a whirl.
“How could this be happening?” I wondered to myself. This was not how I had envisioned 2020 to unfold.
A PROMISING BEGINNING
On the eve of 2020, my Instagram news feed was populated with plenty of thanksgiving posts. Many friends were recounting milestones in the last decade and were filled with anticipation that the next decade would be “the best one yet”.
I shared the same sentiments. I was getting married on 4th January 2020 and relocating to London for ten months with my husband, Jasper, as he completed a Master’s programme. To be married to my best friend and to begin a new life together in my favourite city was exciting! But little did I know what was just around the bend as the clock struck 12 and 2020 began.
AN UNEXPECTED TWIST
The first news of Covid-19 and the lockdown in Wuhan shocked the world in January. By then, I was getting used to married life and enjoying the sights that London had to offer. Everyday felt like a dream! However, the lingering thought at the back of my head was, “When will the virus reach this side of the world?”
The first Covid-19 case in the UK was reported on 31st January. Within weeks, the numbers grew at an alarming rate and it wasn’t advisable to remain in the UK anymore. I was conflicted about whether or not to return to Singapore because this was not how our adventure in London was supposed to unfold! Does this mean we are never coming back to London? What about all the grand travel plans we’ve made? However, after praying, my two-month-long husband firmly but lovingly said to me, “It’s hard for me too. But this is the wisest decision to make now. I am doing this to save both of our lives.” Initially, I wondered why he made such a dramatic statement. But I decided to trust his judgement and leadership. Little did I know that the decision he made would indeed save our lives.
Back home, a few days into our Stay Home Notice period, I lost my sense of smell and taste, and realised it was a symptom of the virus. We were brought to the NCID to be tested. The next day, the hospital informed us that my husband was tested positive and had to be sent to the hospital. I was relieved to be tested negative and returned home to finish out my Stay Home Notice. However, the following day, after a second test, I received a similar call with the words, “You have tested positive.” Unfortunately, I was warded in a different hospital from my husband. It was the beginning of learning how to trust God with each other’s lives despite the physical distance between us.
WE NEVER EXPECTED TO BE VICTIMS OF COVID-19.
We never expected to be victims of Covid-19. It was now our turn to have a case number. Only both of us understood each other’s plight: the nasty throat and nasal swabs we had to endure, the constant blood pressure checks, and the uncertainty of when we could be discharged. I wished that we could be together. Instead, we had to be content with multiple video calls and messages throughout the day. Was the nasal swab painful for you? I know it feels miserable … go listen to some Christian songs. The IV drip will take 11 hours … it’s so miserable to lie in bed the whole time. Our conversations suddenly revolved around our sickness.
A REDEFINED LOVE
After six days in the hospital, the doctors declared me virus-free after two consecutive negative swabs. As I write this, it has been three weeks since I was discharged. Jasper is still currently hospitalised. I miss him dearly! However, through this whole episode, I am being reminded of our wedding vows to be married “in sickness and in health”. I used to think that would be relevant only when we turn old and grey. But we are only 25 years old now!
Being in the isolation ward gave me plenty of time to confront worries that clouded my mind, such as, “What if Jasper’s condition takes a turn for the worst? What if I lose him because of this virus?” So much of my heart’s affections, thoughts, and actions were focused on Jasper due to my anxiety. I knew I should pray and read the Word but those were afterthoughts rather than my main priorities. In those moments, I felt that God gently prompted me with this question: “Is Jesus your utmost love or has Jasper overtaken my place in your heart?” Had I been so consumed with my earthly love, that I had neglected my Eternal Love Himself? It was a sobering thought that nothing in this world must ever take the place of Christ, no matter how precious and dear they may be to me.
As a teen, when I envisioned married life, it felt romantic and dreamy. Imagine being with your best friend 24/7! But through my Covid-19 experience, I came to the bittersweet realisation that marriage goes beyond Insta-worthy photos or fun ‘heartmelt’ moments. Whether you are single or dating, I challenge you to cultivate healthy expectations about love and marriage, and how God ordained it to be. Love can be difficult in some seasons and involves sacrifice.
HAD I BEEN SO CONSUMED WITH MY EARTHLY LOVE, THAT I NEGLECTED MY ETERNAL LOVE HIMSELF?
May you ask God to help you develop love and loyalty in your teen and young adult years, so that if he gives you a husband, you will hold on to your vows “in sickness or in health.”
100 days after we first flew to London, Jasper has been discharged! This number is special to us. Last year, Jasper was in London for 100 days to begin his Master’s programme before he returned for our wedding. I had felt a nudge in my spirit to count the days that we would be apart. It seemed bizarre to do so but I couldn’t ignore the prompt. I realized we would be apart for exactly 100 days. “100” is often seen as a number of completion and fulfilment, and a significant milestone (like the Korean “100 day old” tradition). God had used our first 100 days apart to prepare me for marriage, just as the Church has to wait and prepare for her Bridegroom to return. But I now realise he has also used the second 100-day season, which saw us both together, and apart, to grow us deeper in Christ as a married couple. Despite uncertainties, He is the God of seasons and everything is beautiful in His time.