Funny that I’m typing this years anniversary letter to you using the notes app in my phone. I’ll explain why.
We, as a country, as a nation, as a whole world are in a thing called lockdown because of a disease called coronavirus. In short, lockdown means the country has stopped- for the boys this means that McDonalds is not open ( the upgrade of 1991 Mr Wimpy) and for us older folk it means workplaces are closed or working from home has been put in place. Right now Michael is using my laptop while I process print orders.
Strangely my work has been busier than ever during this phase. I guess when one is forced into hermit mode, and we luckily have a thing called the internet that arrived 8 years after you died, sharing art tips on that space for free helps me to feel I am helping to subside some of the terror our world is facing. Just some.
I don’t use the word terror lightly. If you were here we wouldn’t be letting the lads skip the fields with you and hold your hand. Coronavirus is real dad. It’s invisible but so real that we have to stay 3 metres away from People who do not live in our home. You would be 76 years old therefore you would be “self isolating “ also known as “ cocooning” with Mum at home.
Mum is the busy woman we know and love. She busied herself even more after you died (to ease the pain of grief in the stillness I imagine) and I can say now that she has found the transition into lockdown difficult. As above we have the internet which means, Dad, we can call her via video! From our phones we have moving image and our boys can see Granny’s wrinkled hands when she waves or her red chair that she sits in.
We’d be doing the same on a video to you except we all know you’d be up to your eyes in grease under a car in the pit of the garage.
This year we decided we wouldn’t travel- unheard of for Michael and Me during our 14 years of marriage. Lockdown means we can’t travel anyway so perhaps the universe was telling us something. Airports are closing or Functioning with skeletal staff to do essential flights only.
In 1991 our biggest fear in Northern Ireland was the troubles. I remember checking for bombs under the car in our carport. So, at least with coronavirus there are no guns. But there are deaths and nightingale hospitals being built at rapid speed to house casualties.
Your son helped to build screens for pharmacists who, naturally, have to continue working through the crisis.
Huge shops that housed every item from all around the world were not on trend in 1991 so one thing that wouldn’t be strange for you is how people shop local. We’d lost that sentiment and closeness in our communities. Coronavirus has forced our hand and it’s the butcher , the baker and candle stick maker who are busy sourcing and providing. It’s quite beautiful really.
On my cycle ( we are permitted one outing for exercise per day) yesterday I waved to a farmer ploughing the field. It felt a little strange but a) I always channel a little bit of you and of growing up in the countryside when I wave at people and b) I wanted the farmer to know i value him and his hard graft.
So, I miss you Dad. The world halting means we have time to reflect and to grieve even harder. However, in another way the lightness of time spent in our homes eases pain. Being faced with a stark frightening reality on our doorstep means one works on inner strength and reaches for the light more often.
Rest easy Dad, 2020 is a year none of us will forget. You’re now 29 years gone but equally, like coronavirus, never forgotten.