Self Isolation Didn’t Stop This Couple From Tying The Knot

James Barrett
Photo credit: Tracey Miller
Photo credit: Tracey Miller

From Redbook

"It's a very weird time. It was unexpected and we were not planning on getting married." Tracey of Haddon Heights, New Jersey says.

Tracey Miller and husband, Mark O’Donnell have been together for almost 11 years and have lived together for almost 10 with Tracey’s two children from previous marriages, Liam, 11 and Sadie, 24.

"How romantic is your third marriage?" She tells me. It's a third marriage for each of them. "It doesn't have the same effect or purpose that marriage had when we were in our twenties. The social constraints aren't there, the reasons for getting married. We love each other, but what's the difference of getting married and not getting married now? I just didn't see the need. But this [COVID-19] really changed things," she adds.

Photo credit: Tracey Miller
Photo credit: Tracey Miller

Mark, 63, is a nurse at a long term care facility and knew it was a matter of time before the virus hit his workplace. He came home one night in March (the same week when all non-essential workplaces had employees start working from home), Mark turned to Tracey while watching TV and said, "I think we should get married." Tracey initially took it as a shock and blew it off.

He told her, "I need to make sure that you’re okay and that if something happens to me you’ll have my social security and you’ll be taken care of and I’m worried about you. I’m older and if I get this disease, I might not be as fortunate."

"He had a real, deep-seeded fear for his life," she adds.

Tracey is a Director of a community center, which is a very hands-on environment from workshops to resume building. It was a big adjustment for her to transfer all of her usual face-to-face activity to online being the only option.

Photo credit: Tracey Miller
Photo credit: Tracey Miller

She says, "We were in different spheres because we were dealing with different stressors and concerns and worries from our jobs. He's seen what this virus can do and I didn't yet. Because it all happened so quickly I was not on the same field as him. It was like he was playing soccer and I was playing baseball."

As work took priority for both of them in the days following, the impromptu proposal was sidelined. By the following week there were many cases in Mark's workplace that he was directly taking care of. Over the next 10 days, which felt much longer with unfolding news reports from the governor and cases close to home, Tracey found herself in the same place as Mark.

"I didn't understand it at first. Not because I didn't want to, but I was dealing with different stuff. The more I saw families around me being affected and it getting closer, I wanted my loved ones close to me. Mark wanted to make sure we're okay, and for us getting married was just that. It's 'I love you', and I want you closer. I got on the same field as him and started playing the same game."

The next hurdle Mark and Tracey faced was how to get married when the country is in quarantine, with offices and business shut down. Via Facebook messenger, Tracey reached out to her town Mayor to ask if he can perform the ceremony. He was more than willing to help.

Photo credit: Tracey Miller
Photo credit: Tracey Miller

Getting the marriage license was the next task which takes 72 hours to obtain even when the office isn't closed. Tracey tells me, "We go downtown, standing on the sidewalk social distancing with our applications in plastic with our gloves and masks. My ex-husband came as our witness, if it's not twisted and weird enough...but we're good friends."

"As the day approached I found myself getting really excited to marry this man that I’ve been with all this time. I felt like the same girl who got married in her twenties, which I didn’t expect. I wasn’t expecting to feel that and he was feeling giddy too. There’s this renewed sense of passion that we have for one another that you forget about. It surprised the both of us," Tracey says.

Photo credit: Tracey Miller
Photo credit: Tracey Miller

"I tried to get rings delivered on Amazon, but we couldn't get a shipment in time," she adds. The couple couldn’t put rings on each other’s fingers anyway, so she wasn’t upset by the untraditional ceremony. Tracey and Mark have been quarantining themselves from each other for weeks. Mark would come home through the side door, go into the basement, strip his clothes, put them in the laundry, come upstairs and get in the shower, wearing a mask and gloves through the house. They slept in separate spaces, and he would eat in his bedroom.

Photo credit: Tracey Miller
Photo credit: Tracey Miller

Tracey says, "We got married on our front lawn, masks, gloves and all. Jamie and Alicia were my drive-by bridesmaids, in their cars. The ceremony didn’t last very long cutting out the rings and the kiss. Neighbors came outside and sat on their lawns, and we streamed it on Google Hangout for our family in other states. It was a perfect day."

Photo credit: Tracey Miller
Photo credit: Tracey Miller

Days following, Mark lost two patients in his unit to the disease. Tracey says, "I've seen Mark cry once in the 11 years that I've known him. He came home each night that week and would just cry. Neither of the patients got to talk to their families before they died and it just broke him. He's lost patients before, but this is different, he told me."

Still quarantining from one another, five days after the wedding Tracey and Mark both woke up with a sore throat. The next day Mark tested positive for COVID-19 and Tracey was suspected positive. "This was our happy honeymoon," Tracey jokes. Neither of them got a fever at all, but they quarantined in their home, separately for two weeks both planning to make a healthy recovery. Tracey hopes that when Mark returns to work he doesn't have to work directly with any COVID-19 patients.

Tracey concludes, "I've been married two other times. I didn't realize how different it would make me feel. We’ve been doing a lot of things together that we haven’t ever done. Like shopping together, we don’t shop together. Household projects -- now we’re gardening together everyday. We’re building something that we hadn’t built before. Had it [COVID-19] not happened, would we have done this? I don’t think so, I do not think we would have."

You Might Also Like