It's been a challenging couple of weeks, as the surreal-ality of the COVID-19
pandemic took hold. My mum is in a great care home, in the next road from where I live and they were wise enough to go into lockdown before the decision to request self-isolation was requested by the Government. She has a view over the street so on Mother's Day I was able to stand in the road with a badly fashioned poster, wishing her a lovely day.
It was a sobering thought, standing in the street, that I might have seen her face to face for the last time. Never mind the virus - at 92 years of age and frail, she may not still be with us before lock down is relaxed.
A good thing I couldn't visit her because a few days later I developed mild symptoms of the virus. I was unduly worried about myself but my cat became unwell and the vets (quite rightly) wouldn't allow my friend to take him to the surgery for me, as he was potentially contaminated. They allowed the friend to pick up the medication but initially the cat wouldn't take it. I was beside myself with worry until I remembered I had some tuna in the cupboard, which was bribery enough to persuade him to take the drugs.
I don't know the last time I've felt so tearful as I have over the last couple of weeks. It's been the experience on many of my friends - all strong women - as they have faced their own challenges. "Why," we have asked each other, "Are we crying so much?" The problems we have faced have been genuinely challenging but not enough to consistently reduce us to tears.
Facing the ongoing pandemic, without any tangible solutions (no virus, no financial payments from the Government, yet, no idea how long the lockdown will last) is stirring feelings of grief. When will this end and, when it does, will our lives ever be the same again? We are grieving for social contact, the restriction of our freedom and the unsettling thought that the world will never be the same. While we can measure what, potentially, we will lose, we can't measure the opportunities that we will gain in life after the pandemic. No wonder we are weeping.
And it OK to cry - in fact it's healthy to do so. I've indulged in some of the coping mechanisms most of us have been using to get through the last few weeks: eating more, drinking more, spending hours on social media or binge watching box sets. Perfectly normal and understandable but I don't want to come out of the other side of this pandemic feeling like I've wasted a precious commodity we've all been given and rarely feel we have enough of: time. Time to take stock of my life, to reach out to friends and loved ones and think about the opportunities that will come out of this 'reset'. There will be new opportunities if we are able to believe in possibility and turn our attention and imagination to finding solutions, in some small way, to help us navigate this change.
So I'll allow myself to have a weep, instead of trying to distract myself from the grief, and remember that, this, too will pass. I hope you will, too.