The second week of lockdown:
There are times when you see the lighter and brighter side of it all – like the opportunity to pause and reflect, and catch up with friends and family – and then times when the gravity of it all concusses you with anxiety, fear, and that general gobsmacked, sicky feeling which makes you feel guilty for even entertaining the positive side when so many others can’t.
In the past week I’ve looked at the news more often than I think is healthy. Each time I’ve read the headlines – which seem to have got scarier with each passing day – I’ve experienced that exact feeling, and felt a sense of helplessness. We are all beginning to accept that the road to recovery from all of this is going to be very long indeed. Longer than we may have originally anticipated.
Whenever I’ve checked the news I’ve semi-wished I hadn’t, but I do believe it’s important to know what this situation really looks like beyond the comfort of the sunlight-drenched kitchen and coffee tables which I look at every day. It’s easy to become lost within a bubble whilst in quarantine, and in many ways that’s a good coping mechanism, but to lose sight of the bigger picture of what’s happening right now surely feels disrespectful to all those who can’t – the thousands of front line key-workers, and the victims, and all of their families, who have to face up to the brutal reality of this situation every single day, and just carry on.
There were a couple of photos that struck me in particular this week. The first was of a dozen or so body bags in the back of a refrigerated truck in the U.S, and the second was of the funeral of a thirteen year-old victim. I thought about the people in the truck and how only a couple of weeks ago they were probably planning for the future and dreaming about what they wanted to do when we finally awake from this really bad dream. And how suddenly they vanished. I thought about how they would have had to have died alone; no option to hold the hand of a loved one as they set off to sleep. I thought about how degrading it is for the final image of somebody to be of them in an anonymous bright orange bag on a truck. And then I felt angry at the press for taking a picture of this. But then I thought, “Actually, maybe we do need to see this…”
I tried to think about how it must feel to lose somebody to the coronavirus. To not be able to say goodbye. To not even be able to go to their funeral – or, to be able to go, but not be able to hug your fellow mourner. To know your loved one died alone. To feel like they were ripped apart from you by an illness that should never have grown to this scale. A really unnecessary illness, originating from filthy practice.
We think this situation is tough because we can’t see our loved ones and we worry about money and not being able to buy eggs and losing things – yes, all be some of them big – but for thousands of others this situation is so much tougher – a game of life or death with each passing day.
When – eventually – things do return to some degree of normality, I hope that we don’t forget just who the heroes were during this time. The ones out there fighting to save as many lives as they can whilst endangering their own – and those of their family – by doing so. I love that we all clap our hands at 8pm on a Thursday to thank them, but I hope this gratitude lives long beyond the lifespan of the virus.
And I also hope we don’t forget who the villains were. Billionaire business owners who are treating their staff appallingly whilst they self-isolate in the comfort of their private yachts and islands. Citizens who are (still) laughing in the face of the social distancing rules by hanging around in groups because they don’t care about anybody else. Celebrities who are desperately finding ways to make the situation about them because they’re finally realising how pointless they are. People on social media (usually found within local resident groups) who are using all this additional time at the computer to have petty arguments with people online about who really owns a particular footpath.
We won’t forget you beyond the lifespan of the virus, either.