A year of Covid — for the archives

We are all agreed, we cannot wait to see the back of 2020 — it’s been pretty sh*t to say the least and we have all had enough.

The start of a New Year brings new hope, new vaccines, mass testing and dare I say a new dawn. But what have we learnt from our year of adversity, that will stay in our minds and serve us well in the years to come? Because the honest answer is not as much as we think — much of what we say now will be forgotten, as our memories fade and we become consumed by the manic world of distractions once again. So, perhaps we should all write ourselves a little reminder of what 2020 was really like, how the seemingly impossible can happen, how it made us feel and what we did to cope.

I clearly remember the start of the year, yes we were talking about covid but it was no big shakes in my world — it was happening over there, to someone else, it would be contained, we would be ok. I distinctly remember sitting in the hairdressers and people talking about the possibility of schools being closed and I was adamant, “no way” I said, “there is no way the government would do that”. And yet but a few short weeks later my eldest son was sent home from school as they had decided to close and the next day Boris Johnson took to our screens to deliver the most unimaginable speech modern peacetime — we were to go into a full, national lockdown. Schools would be closed, everyone was to stay at home, emergency overflow hospitals were to be built and we all had to do our bit to save lives and protect the NHS. Perhaps the most surreal and scary speech I have ever experienced. I can still remember the goose bumps all over my body and a rising ball of panic in my stomach, as the true implications of this brave new world started to become clear over the coming days.

And looking back, I really have no idea how we managed that first lock down — it was hell mainly because we had 3 kids to home school, 2 of whom were in secondary school, indeed my eldest son was due to start his new school on the first day of lock down, so he had to do so remotely. My husband started working from home, we re-organised our space and came up with a daily routine aimed at keeping us all sane, fit and fed. We are lucky in that we live in the countryside, so even at the height of the national lockdown we did have plenty of freedom to roam the fields without seeing a soul and we did — so much so that my kids feel physically sick at the thought of returning to that routine. Walking mile after mile in deserted fields with the dogs, may well be my idea of heaven but it does nothing for 2 teenage boys who need social interaction with their peers and a point to their exercise. Towards the end, I could physically see my kids retreating into themselves, even when they were allowed to go out and meet their friends they did not — schools were still closed, their sporting activities still not back on and somewhere deep inside their sub-conscious, the world was clearly still not safe enough for them to step out in.

Thank god for the summer months and the weather we were blessed with. Slowly but surely, we all started to come out of our caves, we drove to the beach, we were able to see a limited number of friends and family and the sun shone to allow us to do that as safely as possible. It was as if mother nature knew we needed some respite before the next challenge was to hit — because I suspect there were many other people like me, who thought we were through the worst of it, that nothing could be as bad as what we had just come through, but how wrong we were.

Looking back the summer was truly idyllic — long days spent at the beach, at the lake, or in our garden with a huge new swimming pool, a treat brought for the kids as we decided not to risk a holiday overseas. Holidays have always been an enormously big deal to us as a family — every school holiday we go somewhere, with my husband working away every week, family time has always been prioritised and one way we did this was to travel and have frequent adventures. So, 2020 was the first in the kids lives, that they did no go away on holiday. We decided to have our holiday ay home instead and what a wonderful time we had. Daily BBQ’s, swimming in the local lake and our very own pool, trips to the local beck and days out to the seaside and all of this was done within a delightfully small bubble of reality — we had all of the best bits without the stressful bits. And we knew that the kids were due back at school in September, so all must be well. And I genuinely think we vastly underestimated the importance of keeping the schools open . For me, it wasn’t actually about my kids education — kids will always learn, they can catch up given time, it was much more about a feeling of normality, if schools are open we must be pretty safe right? We are getting on top of the situation, our kids can play and see their friends albeit within certain restrictions. And to be honest, anything was better than the isolation and completely unnatural circumstances they had to endure during the first lockdown.

But then slowly but surely as the Autumn took hold and gave way to winter, it all started to feel a bit shaky again. My kids were constantly in and out of self isolation, our friends were battling covid, another lock down, hospitals getting dangerously full, teachers struggling to keep the schools going, a disappointing and restricted plan for Christmas and then no real plan for a reprieve over Christmas and that is the point when I think we really started to understand the impact of the second wave — the thing we had been warned about but thought would be ok. And then no Christmas at all really and horrendously scary statistics coming out of the hospitals — sh*t, no one wanted to be in the position Italy found themselves in at the start of the year, forced to make life and death decisions based on age, completely heartbreaking.

And all of this doom and fear was then lifted by 2 incredibly important breakthroughs — the creation of vaccines that worked and mass testing without the need for labs. The combination of these 2 advances is significant, really significant. For the first time in weeks, I could feel the delightful trickle of hope entering my world. No more self-isolation for the kids unless they actually contracted the virus, a way to protect the vulnerable and our NHS, a path back to freedom and most importantly connecting with our fellow human beings.

Because that is the thing that has hurt me and my kids the most for sure — not being able to interact with people. Over the last few weeks, I have turned inwards, found it increasingly hard to motivate myself to get out of bed, become constantly tired, dis-interested in life, anxious all of the time, with the only respite being to sleep or watch some meaningless crap on TV. My kids have retreated to their rooms, to game or binge watch their programmes. The cold weather and lack of light only serving to cement the feeling of despair, sadness and fear. And there is so much fear, the collective vibe of this is truly over whelming. And so the need for the vaccine and mass testing cannot be overstated — I for one was starting to cave in the face of such adversity and it now feels like a super hero has come along and saved us just when we needed it. It feels like there is a fresh burst of energy, of motivation, of hope, that we can finish the last mile, that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

And honestly, I for one really needed it. Because no matter what you have, the loss of connection with one another in the flesh, is simply unsustainable in the long term. We are the air we breath, we need to be physically connected, to feel the arms of our loved ones, to move towards not from one another, to view our fellow beings with love not fear and to feel the energy we collectively create when we are in the same space.

So, the thing I will take away from this surreal, challenging and sad year, is how precious the feeling of human connection really is. The sound of collective laughter, the feel of a hug, the smile of a stranger, the buzz of a crowd, truly priceless gifts I am yearning to experience once again and with luck, an awful lot of science and the support of millions, it looks like we might just be able to.

Please remember just how important each of us are, especially to one another.

With love

Nik x

A bit about me: I aspire to inspire people to be themselves, to embrace all of themselves, warts and all. To re-define our reality, to be more honest and sustainable. To re-define success, to be more diverse and focus on the stuff that really matters, not the shiny sh•t, that you cannot take with you anyway.

No-one will remember what car you drove, but my goodness, they will remember if you made them smile, feel good about themselves and accepted them for who they are. It is the gifts of kindness and understanding that will last beyond your lifetime, not the gifts of gold.

I’m a mum, writer, transformation consultant and all round eccentric, doing my own thing, in my own way, in the hope I can make others smile and love themselves a little bit more.

My blog, library of curiosity, daily inspiration and lots of other things, can be found on my website www.nikdavis.com.

My alternative and eclectic approach to fashion and design can be found at www.lillyisabella.co.uk.

I love people, I love life and I love to talk, so please feel free to reach out and let’s have a conversation.

Nik has a mission - to be brave, challenge the norm and tell it how it is. To share her failings and challenges, to help manage this mad thing called life.

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