COLUMN: My Sweet 16

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Lalitha Viswanathan ('22)

Two years ago I officially chose the date for my sweet sixteen. Never in my life could I have imagined a worldwide pandemic would postpone the day of my dreams. On Thursday, March 12, my mom asked me if I would be comfortable not having my party on our scheduled date.

I was so torn. I weighed out the pros and cons of having a large party, obviously before the state of New Jersey urged to not hold parties of over 250 people, which soon became 50 people.

The pros of still having my party were these:

I knew that my friends were looking forward to what I had referred to as the ‘party of the century’ and I did not want to let them down.

Additionally, we already had my dress, cake, decorations, venue, photographer, activities, and entertainment booked for March 27.

I only needed one con that would outweigh all of the pros:

Since the COVID-19 is deadliest most for the elderly, I figured that my grandmother would not be comfortable in a large group of people.

I was heartbroken. I knew that the best choice would be to postpone. My grandmother is the most important person in my life, and if I ever jeopardized her life in any way, including my sweet sixteen, I could never forgive myself.

So, that’s where the hard stuff kicked in.

“It’s fine Lal, you can just postpone it,” said my mom trying to console me.

I could not bear the thought of waiting even longer for my day. I was in complete shock.

On that day, I told my mom, “I don’t want to have this party anymore.” I was devastated and paranoid that something else could come upon that rescheduled day.

There is so much uncertainty in the future due to COVID-19, who knows if things will clear up later in the spring, or even the fall? I still do not know when I would even feel comfortable deciding on a new date.

Tracing back through my memories, I remember checking the district website years ago repeatedly in case any events were scheduled. I asked my friends when their siblings’ mitzvahs were so that they would be able to attend.

My heart completely goes out to others who were forced to postpone, or even cancel, a milestone that they tirelessly put their energy towards.

I know that weddings, mitzvahs, communions, and even funerals are being postponed due to the unsafety of having a group of people in a crowded area.

In all honesty, I am not certain the cake, decorations, venue, photographer, activities, and entertainment that were booked months in advance will be available in such circumstances.

It was so tough getting over the bridge of acceptance. For me, there was a ton of denial. I sat in bed and cried not knowing what was going on. I am still in extreme shock over the unpredictable virus spreading.

Now, there is still a blue feeling inside of me when thinking about the whole situation, but there is a comfort knowing that we will be able to party once everyone is safe (whenever that is).

This party will hold new meaning to me. It will be a party for everyone; after surviving these unquestionable times, people need something to get them to celebrate.

Who knows, maybe my “Sweet Sixteen after Quarantine” might be more special than I would have ever expected.