Love Looks Like This: My Fiancé Is on the Front Lines Fighting COVID-19

Love Looks Like This Sam

COURTESY OF SAMANTHA NETKIN / CRISTINA CIANCI

Brides is committed to guiding ALL couples through not only their wedding planning journey but through relationship milestones and ups and downs. Every love story is beautiful, has its own distinct history, and its own trials—there's no relationship that looks the same. To celebrate that uniqueness, we're asking couples to open up about their love story, for our latest column, "Love Looks Like This." Below, Samantha Netkin tells her story. 

When my fiancé, Andrew, and I got engaged on January 11, 2020, he was a fourth-year medical student looking forward to graduating in May and I was settling into my new job as an editor at Brides. Three months later, we are planning our March 2021 wedding and he is on the front lines fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

Becoming a doctor has been Andrew’s calling since childhood. Throughout high school, he volunteered with the local fire department as an EMT. He was driven by the camaraderie and being someone the community could rely on. When it came time to make a decision about residency, a surgical specialty was the right path for him. He chose orthopedics because he loves working with his hands (he crafted the wooden ring box he proposed with), but emergency medicine holds a special place in his heart.

On March 20, 2020, exactly one week into quarantine and exactly one year from our wedding date, Match Day arrived. This was the culmination of all the hard work he put in throughout medical school—the day we'd find out where he matched for residency. Under normal circumstances, we would be in an assembly hall on campus as he and his classmates opened their envelopes together. On this Match Day, we sat in the dining room of his parents’ house gathered around a laptop. With the entire class of 2020 on Zoom, everyone opened an email with their match results. He got his first choice.

Under normal circumstances, we would be in an assembly hall on campus as he and his classmates opened their envelopes together. On this Match Day, we sat in the dining room of his parents’ house gathered around a laptop.

We let the excitement sink in, enjoying the comfort of knowing where we’d be settling down for at least the next five years. At this point, the pandemic had just begun to escalate in New York and his last year of medical school was still on schedule: match in March, graduate in May, begin residency in June. As we watched the news and the situation in the hospitals grew more dire, I could see in Andrew's eyes that he wanted to help. Shortly after Match Day, reports began to circulate that New York would call upon the next generation of doctors to help fight the virus.

It was a matter of days before he got the notice that his class would, in fact, be graduating early and they were being given the option to join in the coronavirus fight. When he told me he said, “There is no way I’m not doing this.” I was immensely proud, slightly afraid, but not at all surprised. His community needed him, and he couldn’t sit idly by.

His community needed him, and he couldn’t sit idly by.

The virtual graduation ceremony took place over Zoom on April 8, roughly two months before its scheduled date. Andrew and his fellow classmates were dressed in their white coats prepared to take the next step in their personal and professional journeys. Faculty members and an honorary guest speaker delivered remarks noting the unprecedented nature of what was unfolding. Their words sent chills down my spine: “Soon you will join the front ranks to fight a pandemic that threatens not only to destroy millions of lives but the fabric of society itself. The outcome will depend on you.”

And join he did. Andrew began orientation immediately and was in the hospital a few days later with 12-hour shifts in the ICU. When his orthopedic surgery residency begins in June he will be on a different path but for now, he is committed to the task at hand: help defeat the virus.

Suffice it to say, planning our big day has taken a backseat. We booked our venue and band a few weeks before New York was shut down, and are hoping to connect with other vendors once it's safe to do so. In the meantime, while Andrew is at the hospital, I've been keeping busy with work and accomplishing some planning from home. The virus has impacted the wedding industry tremendously, causing couples around the world to postpone their events and creating many obstacles for vendors. Given the nature of my work, I've found comfort in seeing people come together to support one another and reading stories of love rising above—which is what weddings are about, after all.

When Andrew took the Hippocratic Oath on graduation day, he vowed to “help sustain colleagues in their service to humanity” and “not withdraw from patients in their time of need.” As for me, I vow to stand by his side as he fights this pandemic. And on our wedding day, I will make a vow to stand by his side through all of life's ups and downs. Until then, I pray for those affected by the coronavirus and I am grateful to all the healthcare heroes putting themselves at risk to save lives. We are in this together.

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