January 2020, my daughter turned two. We had a joint birthday party for her and my nephew. We had a day out as a family at a zoo. Our Daughter started pre-school. Having lost my father the previous autumn we were slowly finding our feet again and beginning to move forward. Then suddenly all of our plans, alongs with the plans of most of the country, were shattered.
Reports of Covid 19 began to show on our televisions and in the media, but it was something happening hundreds of miles away. There was no way it could get to us, could it? How wrong we were. A few of us knew people that had already been terribly ill with some sort of awful virus, my own mother being one of them, but we pressed on. We were still making plans anticipating our lives being normal when the summer arrived. We booked our first family holiday and my husband and I bought tickets to see a show at the theatre and booked a hotel for the night. Our first big date night. But when march 2020 began we all realised that things were not going to be as we had all hoped.
Suddenly the governmnet were on the television telling us to stay home. Our children were kept home from school and as parents we were forced to balance homeschooling our children and our jobs. Many of us were furloughed, left wondering how long we would be out of work and how long the often unhelpful men and women in charge of the country would allow us to keep being paid. Families struggled to share a laptop so that children to log in to online classes whilst parents could attend virtual staff meetings. Online shopping slots became like unicorns, mythical beasts that appeared once in a blue moon. More and more families became reliant of the foodbank and other local charities and support organisations. We collected food and medicine for our neighbors and came up with more and more stories to explain to small children why we couldnt visit their grandparents.
We longed to hug our friends and family, we missed bars and cafes and even wandering the middle aisle of Aldi. Everything we had taken for granted was gone and many of us felt trapped. People battled with ongoing and new mental health issues, depression and anxiety spread as fast as Covid 19. The NHS staff worked tirelessly to cope and support us but they were strechted too thin. How did we solve that? Applause. Yep, we stood at our windows and outside our home and clapped. It put a smile on some peoples faces but many of us felt empty as we watched brave men and women turn up for long, draining and difficult shifts in hospitals knowing the echo of our cheering was the only addition to what they were earning.
We began to turn on each other. Every day Facebook and Twitter revelaed new videos of people attacking each other over mask wearing. Neighbors that had previously helped each other were curtain twitching and repoting people for waving to the postman. People became afraid to go out and Covid 19 claimed many victims without infecting them. I myself know of several deaths that were a result of people taking their own lives because they simply couldn’t cope. The summer was just as bad, but we pushed on. We took up new hobbies, walked more and did all we could to rally together and make good memories in a bad year. We were determined to stay at home, save lives, and get control of the virus sweeping our nation.
Finally the day we were waiting for came, the announcement that had us cheering in our homes. We were told at the end of the summer 2020 that the lockdown was being lifted. We rejoiced in harmony with those around us. People could return to work and earn money before Christmas, children could see their friends and family and some form of normality returned to the weary people of England. We were thrown from “stay home” to “eat out” as the government hearded people into resturants and cafes up and down the country. People still wearing masks but now there were smiles behind them. We had follwed the rules, we had come through the worst of it and now we could begin to relax. At least for a few sweet moments.
Before any of us could get too get too comfortable we were stopped once again. Abruptly we were thrown back into another lockdown. The memories of Christmas day faded far too quickly as the dark days of January began. No more lockdown afternoons spent out walking, or relaxing in gardens. The winter blues were amplified buy long lonely days. This time feels worse for a lot of us as we tried so hard to obey all the rules last time. We forced smiles, nodded along to the news and played our part in making sure that we limited the spread of the virus. The fighting between people was again fueled by the new lockdown with people blaming each other for the failure of the last one. Political devide drove a wedge between friends and family many conversations became catalysts for arguments.
We have gone from people displaying butterflies and rainbows in our windows in support of the struggling NHS, to people that are struggling to get out of bed. Time spent making memories with our families because we are all at home has become more and more difficult. Our children are bored and they are yearning for normaility and their childhood back. Us adults are now consumed with financial concern and fears. Our planned events have been cancelled or lost. Weddings, holidays, birthdays have been spent trapped alone or postponed. We have lost loved ones and been unable to say our goodbyes. Precious time has been lost with our elderly relatives who have been alone and afraid and we are all struggling in our own ways.
We are weary. Many of us feel defeated. But we hear on the news that there are plans being made, dates being penciled in when shops will reopen and once again we will be let out, blinking in the light that we have forgotten. Sadly this time the excitment has waned, we do not welcome release anymore. Instead we fear it because we just can’t get our hopes up again. We are burnt out and now lifting lockdown only to impose another is like a reoccuring nightmare. Many of us are going through the motions, trying to keep going. Of course we fear the virus and we want more than anything to prevent the spread of it. We do not want anyone to suffer because of the virus but we also do not want to lose any more time with out families. We want to live our lives and we dream of normality.
For now we can only hope that this is the last lockdown and that when it does lift, it won’t return.,