If you asked Christiana Neazer, 31, a year ago what her life might look like today, happiness and wedding bells were not in her plans.
On July 25, Andrae Reid felt jittery as he led a blindfolded Neazer to a boat in Long Beach, California. His friends had decorated the boat, and she thought they were going to celebrate a friend’s birthday on board. But, as his breath became heavier because of his nervousness, he asked for her hand in marriage — and she said yes.
Stunned, Neazer couldn’t believe she was going to be a fiancée again after months of heartbreak and grief.
In March of 2021, the young widow had just given birth to her daughter, Shiloh, while still grieving the loss of her husband and her father, who both died from complications of COVID-19 in 2020. Those losses followed a five-year battle with infertility.
In a TikTok video that went viral, Neazer shared her experience being a widow at a young age to help other young widows struggling with grief. The video garnered nearly two million likes and was viewed more than nine million times.
Neazer didn’t know how to continue with her life after experiencing so much loss. But everything changed after she met Reid.
Although Reid, 30, knew Neazer was struggling with ongoing grief and the challenges of raising a baby, he said she was worth it.
“I started to really recognize her personality and started seeing some gifts in her shine through,” Reid told TODAY’s Sheinelle Jones. “(Despite) the trauma she was going through, her resilience was really showing me a lot about her.”
Their love story started right before Shiloh was born. Once the two went from acquaintances to close friends, Neazer became interested in Reid, but struggled with the thought of moving on.
“He sent me a voice note like praying,” Neazer said. “And so it just turned into a weekly thing … and I’m just like, he’s really praying consistently for me and Shiloh. And that’s pretty much what opened the door.”
Neazer said that initially it was hard for her to let Reid into her life and accept that it was OK to move on.
“The day before I had Shiloh I was like, ‘I think I’m going to allow him to be more involved,’” she said. “But you have guilt and shame attached to it as a young widow.”
She said Reid’s gentleness and consistency toward her and Shiloh made it a little easier to let go of the guilt she was feeling.
“I think people look at it like, ‘Oh, she just completely doesn’t care anymore and she just pushed everything behind her and moved forward,’” Neazer said. “Absolutely not. This is a part of my makeup now as a woman.”
The couple moved in together earlier this month, and Neazer said she feels Reid’s love is a gift in her life.
“It’s beautiful because I was truly loved at my worst, so it can only get better from here as I continue to get better through different seasons of my life,” Neazer said. “He already saw me in my worst state. He allows me to just be free in my grief moments and I think that’s what love is — truly caring for someone in all of their seasons.”
Neazer said she’s still in shock from the proposal.
“It just shows me we really don’t know what’s gonna happen in our life and so I want to take advantage of the fullness of life,” she said. “Do what makes you happy. You don’t know your last day on earth.”