Newlyweds forced apart due to COVID-19
SUDBURY -- It wasn't the start to marriage that A.J. and Chrissy Chapais expected, but with the border between Canada and the United States closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the couple is being forced to adjust to the circumstances.
"Luckily we've been kind of training for this long-distance relationship," said A.J.
The couple originally met through an online karaoke application.
They have been dating long-distance since April 2019, with A.J. living in Sudbury, Ont. and Chrissy in New Jersey. The plan, before the pandemic started, was for Chrissy to move to northern Ontario in May.
"It was like a race against time because we knew that the borders were going to be closing," said A.J.
But unfortunately, closed borders are not the only obstacle standing in this couple's way.
"I had actually, for the first time in my life, not procrastinated on sending out my passport to change my last name," said Chrissy. "That was supposed to have been here already. That's on hold."
Chrissy adds there are difficulties due to business closures as well.
"I live seven hours from the border. I still don't have my passport back," she said. "I don't even have a license plate on my car. I have a temporary license plate that expired at the end of March because I haven't gotten in the permanent one."
Chrissy said that the border is open for essential travel, but whether or not moving qualifies as essential is up to the discretion of the border agent.
"It's difficult to go seven hours up north just to chance it and then maybe be turned back," she said.
In an effort to cope with the long-distance marriage, the couple is finding ways to stay connected online.
This week, they released an original song that they've been working on since they first met.
"From the inception of our relationship we had been saving little messages that we would send to each other that we're like 'aw' and heartwarming little things," said A.J. "We kept these snippets throughout our whole history of conversation. So, when we were finally like 'ok, let's do this' and I dusted off the guitar and we were ready to write, we already had everything."
The lyrics are specific to their feelings and situations, giving them a chance to express themselves during this difficult time.
"The title is 'Half a Day Away', which is because our homes are 12 hours away from each other," said Chrissy. "It was sort of just saying 'we're only half a day away,' right? It's something to look forward to. We're close enough that we can at least drive to each other. And maybe all these things that have gone on in our lives were all to just be 12 hours away from the person who is going to make it all better."
She adds, "Now those 12 hours that seemed so small, seem so far away because it's tough getting to each other."
Before the pandemic, Chrissy and A.J. managed to see each other once a month, but haven't seen each other since February 21.
"I think the thing that at least I try to remember, is this is only temporary and what I have with my husband is forever. So we'll make up for all of this lost time soon," said Chrissy.
A.J. adds that it takes sincerity, true love, commitment and a smartphone to make the distance work.
"I don't know how much advice I can give a person because, to be honest, when it comes to Chrissy, it's so easy. We have such good chemistry. She literally is the better half of me, we're soulmates," said A.J.
The couple is holding on to hope that Chrissy's passport will come in soon and that they can still celebrate their marriage with family and friends in October this year.