When most people imagine how the COVID-19 virus has affected lives across the nation, it brings up images of people wearing masks, social distancing or even being hospitalized as they battle the virus. For many, the virus affects day to day life without causing any physical ailments.
Florida State University ROTC Cadet Chase Williams is one of those people. The FSU junior transitioned from in-person to online classes, delayed his scheduled wedding date, and even struggled to stay employed. One might think facing these challenges would be enough to make someone want to give up – but not Williams – he’s meeting the challenge head on.
“COVID has and still is affecting me in many ways,” said Williams. “COVID has severely affected our wedding plans. Our wedding was scheduled for May 3 - that date was significant because it would be the two-year anniversary of when we started dating. Now our wedding is cancelled. Never in a million years would I have thought that the day that both of us had been planning for and looking forward to would not come.”
Analee Whiddon, Williams’ fiancé, said making changes to their plan wasn’t easy, but seemed necessary.
“The past few months have been mentally exhausting, as we were fully prepared to hold our wedding on May 3,” she shared. “Just before COVID-19 reached the United States, we were getting down to the tiny details of our big day. Everything major, like venue, catering, photography, and music was set in place, and we were focusing on tying everything together. All of our work from the past 14 months was put on hold when the virus got more serious."
“We knew that we needed to proceed with the best interest of our family, friends, and community in mind. Considering those factors, we decided to cancel our May 3 plans and are now waiting the virus out, in hopes that conditions improve, she added.
Williams said even though he and Whiddon have missed their target wedding date, they are still excited to move forward even if it’s with a new plan.
“We have not decided on when, where, or how we will do it in the future. We will most likely do something small with just our family and close friends,” he said. “We have realized that all that matters is us two becoming one in the eyes of God and making vows to love each other for as long as we live.”
“This time has brought about much uncertainty regarding an official wedding and what that entails; however, our relationship has only grown stronger as we have become resilient through it all. Change is a part of life, but these unprecedented times have pushed us to focus on our foundation and why we are united in love,” Whiddon added.
Their wedding day is not the only challenge Williams and Whiddon have faced; COVID-19 has also struck the couple financially.
“For all intents and purposes, I have lost my job and so has my fiancé. I am a waiter and I now only work one day a week and my fiancé worked in the school system and has lost her job,” he explained. “For work, I am hoping on Florida reopening sometime soon so I can get back to a normal schedule. If that does not happen, I have no idea what I will do, it is not like many people are hiring right now so finding a job might be difficult.”
Williams credits his ROTC training in helping him make it through the recent difficulties he’s faced.
“I believe that ROTC has helped me be able to power through the current situation. In ROTC I have had to learn that I cannot always choose my situation, but what I can choose is how I navigate through it,” he said. “I know that I cannot help being in this time of COVID, but what I can do is persevere through it and have a great attitude and look at the silver linings; that I can control. I have had numerus opportunities given to me because of this program that I would not have had if I was not in this program.”
Williams said the main lesson he has learned through all he is facing is to not give up and keep looking to the horizon.
“My advice is to accept it for what it is - roll with the punches - we cannot change anything. The only way to get through is to find new ways to live,” he shared. “If you hold on to your pride and are stubborn, you will only be more hurt by this pandemic. By accepting what it is and moving on, you relieve yourself of stress and are able to relax and see the future.”
And that future still looks bright, said Whiddon.
“Of course, this time has been difficult, but we are trying to stay present and appreciate what we do have instead of focusing on everything that has been taken away,” she said. “When we are able to hold a wedding, it will surely be beautiful, but what is more beautiful is the life we are building together and will continuing building well into our marriage.”