The limitations of lockdown might become a distant memory for many people. For others, the aftermath of lockdown could well remain with them for many years to come, possibly for the rest of their lives. Some coped in order to survive and are beginning to pick up the pieces to make life work for them. However, it will be quite the opposite for many, many people and families because livelihoods cannot return to normal.
A few years ago we would have relied on airmails, letters and phone calls to make contact with people. Modern technology has bridged the gap so that we’ve been able to hear and see people. Last night I received a phone call from my youngest cousin, who lives in South Africa. The even greater pleasure was not only to hear but see, his mother, who is 94, on the screen. She has her own flat in a care complex but, like ourselves in England, is in total lockdown. My cousin’s kindness and her clear memory gave us all a memorable time of catch-up.
I have seen so many of my friends come to a place where the word ‘lockdown’ and conversations about lockdown have been started and avoided almost simultaneously. It would be so good to live life again. However, that surprise phone call reminded me of the many times I have had surprises during the past few weeks – someone enquiring if I’m alright, offers of help, promises for the future, hand-made cards and photos on WhatsApp – the list could go on and on. However, I’m all too aware there have been many people who have not had any of these surprises.
Last night I was returning home when I saw the most glorious sunset, the sun a ball of golden fire sinking below the horizon and the light filling the sky with different shades of reds and golds tinging the grey clouds with pink. This week I saw a thrush on the lawn feeding a worm to her fledgling chick. I have also seen traffic nose to tail on the dual carriageway, seen the vapour trails criss-crossing the lovely blue sky and heard the chaotic background noise of cars, motorbikes and ambulance sirens as life has picked up again. It will be all too easy to forget about the slow-down that lockdown forced us into. It became that place where we were made aware of the things that matter - neighbours, friends, colleagues and family. Yet, at the same time, every day, we were reminded of suffering and the struggle of those with responsibilities who are trying to preserve life. Anxiety has stalked us all and, for some, created situations of terror and abuse. Perhaps we have an even greater responsibility now to take what we learned personally, albeit seemingly insignificant, to encourage and support those who have struggled the most. We can let what we gained be a blessing to others.