As the death toll went up, stories of patients dying alone were spread across all news outlets and months were passing by, i felt myself change inside. I was more reserved. Less interested. Less motivated despite being desperate to be so. I was like a car that just wouldn't get going no matter how hard you turn the key.
I spent the majority of Lockdown with my mum as my dad is an NHS ambulance driver, working 12 hour shifts. I remember her getting a call from her boss, around late May perhaps, telling her that she should prepare herself to come back to work within the coming weeks. She was so excited to gain some of her normality back after so long and while I was so pleased for her, I also felt an unexpected pang of jealousy. I'll never get the opportunity to say goodbye to a lot of my good friends who were heading to uni in the summer, i'll never get a chance to say thank you to my teachers for all they did to prepare me for my a levels. I will never get my normal back. My pre lockdown life.
I knew that in the grand scheme of things this was miniscule but in my little bubble, the feeling of a frustrating lack of closure on that part of my life consumed me. I never enjoyed secondary school but college was somewhere i thrived and so to never be able to properly return there makes me sad.
Sad seems like such a bland word for it but the emotion of sadness is far from bland, it's an ache. A genuine ache in my heart at what has been taken from me. It was my purpose. Our life was always mum and dad work, I go and be a student, we all come home and share stories of our days. As my parents return to work as normal all this is slowly returning, except now the only interesting part of my days is filling out job applications and teaching myself to cook.
Amoungst it all I was, and still am, surprisingly hugely grateful for fresh air and nature. I have always loved being outside but i definitely found a new appreciation for it during quarantine. Mother nature seemed to really come alive at the abscence of human interference. When the fresh weather came along I did everything possible to just sit and take a long deep breath in it. To sit and listen to the bird song, to feel the warm sun drape across my back and the gentle breeze in my hair. There was something incredibly grounding about it. It was a pleasant reminder that there was a wider world outside of the walls of my house. A reminder that when all this chaos, pain and uncertainty is (eventually) calm, life is out there waiting to be lived.
Another daily escape for me is music. Unfortunately for the creater in me, i am in no way musical but I am grateful for the solace I found in other artists music. Again, since i was a baby I have relaxed to music but this year I found myself exploring new genres, new artists, a new narrative type of music. Almost like a book being read to you with a melody behind it. (Very hippie I know.)
I appreciate the escapism it gives me, how I can create 'characters' from the lyrics being sung. It keeps the brain ticking.
Now, in gloomy late October, on occassions I feel a sense of isolation, at times loneliness while others go about their new normal and I find myself retreating back to these comforts while trying to carve my own new normal. I find it all about distraction. A shift in focus in order to maintain an essence of sanity.
Looking towards Christmas and I must admit and that all material items seem insignificant. If nothing else all my heart is genuinely craving right now is a hug from my grandparents. I want to hear my nans voice in person again. I want to sit on her sofa in front of the fire as the budgie chirps along in the background. I want to stand in the kitchen with her and mum as we chat away, my father and granddad browsing my nans buffet table in the living-room. Until then i've made a promise to myself to never take these moments for granted in the future, when all this is hopefully a distant memory. To hug a little tighter, to not rush in person conversations and to be present in those small moments that ultimately will mean the most looking back.