This interview is one part of a series written by our 2020 CBF Summer Ministry Intern, Emmaline Rogers.
Tommy Sexton’s wedding was the last official event held within the church before it closed in late March. They were married two days after Shelby County Schools announced its first postponement of classes. He and his wife Christy happily settled into a new routine together, one with more time to spend at home together than if the pandemic hadn’t occurred.
“Planning the ceremony was more simplified than I had expected. We got engaged on December 23 and were married on March 14. We both had previous large weddings and we both agreed that we did not want to go through the large wedding experience again. Our families also helped with the planning, as well as the reception. Christy’s sister, Lisa, made our wedding cake, set up the reception hall, and took care of the flowers (from Hobby Lobby). Keeping it personal with family helping in the entire process made it a more intimate setting for us. We even toasted with Christy’s favorite drink, Diet Dr. Pepper. All of the reception food came from Sam’s Club, except the candy bar, which was ordered from Amazon. Covid-19 was not really on our minds; however, Stephen called me a couple of days prior. He stated to me to not panic, but to inform us that we were going to be the last act of church business before the shutdown. It did not alter the service, but we did have fewer guests that we had invited. Part of that could also have been the start of spring break for most of them. It was still a beautiful service…”
“The past few months have been amazing for both of us… Because of the cancellation of sporting events that I normally work during this time (Redbirds, 901 FC, Grizzlies) we have spent a lot of time with each other. Christy’s job as a teacher was also affected, so we spend a lot of time communicating, going on random road trips, cooking dinner together and just keeping ourselves entertained with each other’s company. I do miss working the sporting events, but I have also enjoyed the time I have spent with my wife during this pandemic.”
“The adjustment has not been difficult. The only change I’ve had to adjust to is from going from one condo occupant to three. I lived by myself for a long time, but I do love the company that I now keep. Very grateful for the new hot water tank I purchased before our marriage because we have plenty of hot water!”
Unlike many other people, Tommy did not have to figure out how to work from home. “I am still working full time for a State Farm agent, but our doors were not open to the public during Phase One. We were considered essential business but we had to stay apart from each other. We clean everything every day and take our temperature regularly. Thankfully, none of us at work have gotten sick.” His wife’s daughter Meredith lives with them and also still went to work in person, but Christy did not return in-person to her teaching job after spring break. “Christy began spring break the day before the wedding. She and Meredith are having to deal with being bored sometimes. Their expertise in game show trivia has increased, thanks to the BUZZER channel. I will help by getting them out of the house. Random road trips to state parks, driving in rural areas, and other family outings at nights or during weekends help keep our household somewhat normal. Meredith does work part time in the food service industry, so she is able to experience some degree of normalcy during the week.”
“My family is doing as well as can be expected. Christy has started preparations for her upcoming school year. Meredith is about to change jobs and plans to move into off-campus when University of Memphis starts in the fall. My mother, brother, sister-in-law and my niece are doing well, as well as Christy’s immediate family. None of us have contracted the current virus, so we have been blessed beyond my comprehension.”
“The hardest part for me is not having the supplemental income from the other sports that I work. I have been on the same schedule for over 16 years, so that has been quite an adjustment. The best part for me is that I get to come home to Christy and Meredith and I get to relax around them. Hardest part of my day is getting out of bed early in the morning while everyone else is in sleep mode. That will change when school starts because Christy will be getting up about 5:00 a.m. However, the best part of my day is cooking for everyone in my home. Sometimes, that does include breakfast if everyone is up and moving when I am.”
Tommy and his wife have been experimenting with different fun things to do together. “We use the crock pot a lot more than I have used it. Christy tried the ‘diamond dot craft’ lately, and it didn’t even last 30 minutes. We will get menu ideas off Pinterest. I began to educate my spouse on the movies of James Bond and Star Wars, with some success. She does think that Daniel Craig is ‘a beautiful man.’ I did not feel threatened…”
Getting out of the house has become an adventure for the newlyweds. “Recently, Christy and I went to Chattanooga for a weekend. That was fun for both of us, just to get out for a while. Driving through the mountains and getting there was awesome for me. I love to glance at the scenery, while driving safely, of course. We went to the Tennessee Aquarium and Rock City on the same day. Standing next to a waterfall while looking in the direction of seven states was very peaceful. We even had dinner while listening to a live country band at a local restaurant. It was relaxing to unplug and just enjoy each other’s company in a completely different area of the state.”
Despite his jubilance at his new life, the pandemic can still cause Tommy to struggle sometimes. “I personally handle hard days by listening to music, reading a book, or going somewhere to walk with Christy. We also will sit on the couch, without the TV on, and will just talk to each other about random things. I will also play drums, while driving, to random songs, using the steering wheel as my drum. I have a lot of classical music on my iTunes that will help me de-stress. I also love to watch rock concerts on my television, and happily recall some of the ones that I have seen live in my past.”
“I take comfort in the fact that this pandemic will soon pass. I do not like watching local news broadcasts because it seems that every news anchor likes talking about covid, shootings, robberies, government and death. I do get some news updates, but talking with my co-workers during the day and Christy at night brings me some pleasure and comfort. I sleep easier knowing that Christy is next to me and that makes me feel safe. I think of Psalm 23 a lot (I will fear no evil, for You are with me). Another thing that brings me comfort is Christy occasionally leaning her head on my shoulder and me holding her. For me, that’s a happy place.”
The pandemic has changed many things, from work routines to home routines, but Tommy has been able to enjoy figuring out those changes with his wife. She is his main source of comfort, and the two of them have gone on adventures and tried new things not just to take the place of things too dangerous to do during a pandemic, but also out of the joy of experiencing it with each other. The pandemic can change how they interact with the world, but it cannot touch how much they mean to each other; in a time of crisis, all they have needed is each other.