Weddings are always rich in symbolism, but one I attended on a sunny afternoon recently carried far more than usual.

Residents, family members and staff gathered on the lawn of a long-term care campus to celebrate two events — the beginning of a new life together for residents Mike and Diana, and the birth of a hopeful, new post-pandemic world.

The couple met a couple years ago in the facility dining room, where one day in the middle of lunch Mike suddenly blurted, “I know who I want for my girlfriend.” 

“Who?” Diana asked. 

“You!” Mike responded. The courtship didn’t turn out to be that easy, as she admitted not liking him at first. Their first area of commonality was that they had both driven semi-trucks. Then they started going to Bible studies and just hanging out, and one day, in an epic scandal, another resident caught them kissing. Two years later, here we are. 

Health issues prevented Mike from singing at the ceremony, but I asked him what song he would have chosen. 

Without hesitation he turned to his bride and launched into an impromptu performance of a George Strait number. “I cross my heart and promise to/Give all I’ve got to give to make all your dreams come true.”

Emotions were high that afternoon, and not just because of the wedding.

Both Mike and Diana gushed about how supported and loved they felt by everyone at the facility. The residents and staff had been through so much — many, including Mike after a long battle, had survived COVID-19 — so to be sitting together in the sunshine felt like the dawning of a new day.  

“Before the vaccines, I never would have pictured we could do this,” said the facility administrator to the happy couple. “We’re a small community and everybody is like family, so to be able to celebrate this with you is just huge. It shows we’re almost there.”