In these Covid times the usual ‘hatch, match and dispatch’ rites of passage have been completely overturned. For first-timer ‘pandemic’ parents, their experience of bringing a new-born into the world has been markedly different from the norm. No adoring sets of grandparents gathered around the cot, no neighbours popping round for a quick cuddle nor child-free friends dropping in to offer hasty congratulations and even hastier exits. The usual Babies and Toddlers support groups are now only to be found on line and post-partum blues are less easy to uncover.
On the plus side, there’s less of a barrage of conflicting advice from the well-meaning, and more of a chance for work-at-home dads to get in on the traditionally female-dominated first few months. Fathers with baby slings can be spotted everywhere and the parks are full of testosterone runners, racing past with their three-wheeler prams, showing off both their offspring and their PBs.
As for weddings, like buses, you seem to wait ages for one, then three come along all at once. I was looking forward to buying a trio of hats but cancellation has been the order of the day. Unlike me, the Nearly-Beloved shows little distress at this fact, claiming that the money we save can pay for our summer holiday. That’s if holidays are permitted this year… And Grunting Teen looks positively relieved that he won’t be forced out of his comfy lockdown lounge wear into something more respectable.
For the moment at least, Hollywood style marriage ceremonies are off the cards. For whilst a gathering of four hundred was recently broken up by police in London, few sensible couples would risk their guests’ safety for the sake of a cinematic spectacle. In fact, many are rethinking their attitude to tying the knot. Long-time live-in lovers are wondering if a house extension might be a better use of their funds. That way when restrictions finally ease, they can host a celebratory party at home. And for those wanting to legalise their union for love rather than for the ‘Gram, then spectator numbers don’t count, it’s the promise they make to each other that matters.
Indeed, I attend one wedding online and it manages to be both personal and moving. Only the nearest and dearest are physically present but there is a virtual audience with guests pre-recording video messages, performing songs or reading out meaningful poems. The vows are solemnly taken – a triumph of devotion over contagion. Love laughs in the face of Covid-19. And no matter off-screen or on, I cry at the sight of all newly-weds.
‘Happy tears’ I tell my teen, as he pokes his head round the door to find the cause of my noisy sobbing. ‘They’ll both be crying when they’ve been married as long as we have,’ mutters the Nearly-Beloved who’s been forced to watch with me. But I know he’s joking. I’ve caught him dabbing his eyes with a tissue. Because who doesn’t get emotional at the sight of two young people embarking on life’s journey together?
For all too soon, our human adventure comes to an end. And the Corona virus is a great leveller. Sadly, many have lost loved ones since the start of the pandemic and, whatever their status or contribution in life, only close family are allowed to send them on their way. For they are the ones holding the memory of love forever in their hearts.
So, if nothing else, this pandemic has taught us that life is for living, for seizing the moment and for making a difference. And it’s never too late to do that as Sir Tom Moore our famous centenarian charity raiser has shown us. For who could have imagined the impact on the nation of one elderly gentleman in the autumn of his life?
In current times, there will be no grand funeral, no pomp and ceremony to commemorate his deeds. But, in this last rite of passage, he has left us the reminder that a life of quiet service is an excellent example for us all to follow.