by Marliese Berndt
Covid-19 enters our lives through the media…
We talk about it, but we talk about it as if it is something far – and we don’t deal with any of it.
Covid-19 moves closer. We talk about it – with a bit more anxiety. And we know it will hit home as well.
Peter is high risk because of his job. We start to isolate in the house. We talk about it in functional terms. What to do, what not to do.
We stay in our heads. We don’t move down to our emotions.
The president announces a state of disaster. Still we deal with life in a functional way. The first people start panic buying and stock piling. I refuse to be drawn into it. Perhaps I did not want to deal with the reality of it. I work at staying grounded in myself. I refuse to go into scarcity thinking – but I am not sure it is working.
We cancel our Easter holiday. We cancel social engagements. We start feeling a sense of loss. But we don’t really talk about it. We carry on with life.
We educate our farm workers. We buy soap and more soap for them.
I am aware of an underlying anxiety that has taken root in me. But I ignore it. Peter is concerned about himself in terms of his possible exposure due to his work.
We livestream the service with Pieter preaching. I feel weepy during the service. Peter & I sit staring at the screen. Not participating. We don’t look at each other. We don’t talk. Perhaps because we both are scared that we would break down. We keep the walls up. And become more locked down in ourselves.
The day before the lockdown is announced, we let our workers go home after we have educated them again. We promise that we will pay them during this time. They stare at us. But we deal with them in a functional way. We don’t address their fears or uncertainties or insecurities. Because we haven’t faced or dealt with it in our own lives.
The lockdown gets announced. Peter comes home with a permit as an essential service. And a hazmat suit. By then we have already locked down emotionally in ourselves.
We struggle to sleep. I wake up shivering – even though it is not cold. My heart races. My tummy is in a knot. I feel panicky. I experience fear like never before.
But we both shoulder on. We stockpile wine. I buy 2 bottles bubbly so that we can look for celebrations in the time of lockdown.
Peter champions for us. We get flu injections – in a time when it is hard to get them. Extra Vit C. Paracetamol. Something to relieve throat pain. We are stoic about it…
I get nightmares at night. All vague but with a sense of anxiety and foreboding. I try to stay awake at night – because I am scared to go to sleep.
The day before lockdown, I am anxious and weepy. My prayers are just a jumble of non-sensical words. Because I don’t have the language to deal with what is happening in myself. I am absent minded. I struggle to focus. I obsessively check social media and News 24 for the latest updates. I fret. I feel short of breath.
David moves his girlfriend to the farm so that she is not locked down in her flat without a balcony and a flatmate who is lazy, dirty and non-compliant. Now we are 4. We are rigorous in washing hands. We don’t hold hands when we pray. We physically distance as much as we can
Thursday night Peter & I sit outside. Looking into the distance. Not talking. Then he says: I amreally scared. And I say: Me too. We talk about it. We talk about the what ifs. We acknowledge our dependence on each other. We speak about “last wishes” for when the worst happens. We name fear and we claim fear. We put fear on the table. We move away from our heads – right into our emotions. We feel emotional. But the inner-lockdown is opened up. And that is how we kicked fear’s butt.
I check in with all my neighbours. The isolation in myself has shifted. I have the energy to reach out. All my neighbours acknowledge my check-in and we know we are all here – all together in this.
That night we sleep well. I wake up at 3:40. There is an eerie silence outside. But I feel rested and relaxed when I get up the first morning of lockdown.
We carry on with what we need to carry on with. Peter is on call – I make lasagne. We all eat outside when Peter comes back. We toast on Day 1 of Lockdown and wish each other a good lockdown.
We develop a new rhythm because we now have to deal with domesticity. We walk the dogs on Middelvlei – to where we have access through 2 small gates – one in our fence and one in their fence. We feel incredibly blessed – beyond words.
We come back and sweep and mop. Peter sweeps. I don’t like sweeping. I do the mopping.
Sunday we livestream church – André’s sermon. We take part. We discuss what is “woes en leeg”. This time we have the language. We can talk about the new “awarenesses” that have sprung up in us. We have more inner-strength to talk about it. We realise we have moved a long way in one week of turmoil. We have grown in resilience.
We find strength and hope in André’s message. We are so grateful for our faith community. The fact that we are part of a faith community.
We make a fire for the “traditional Sunday braai”. We braai chicken. We drink wine. I bake a pudding. It is terribly sweet. Almost inedible. But everyone loves it. We are all joyful. We manage to avoid Covid-19 talk around the table.
I phone my family members. We have long chats. Peter phones his parents. They have a long chat.
I check in with my friends. We have long whatsapp chats.
It is going well with us – today.
When things change, our bodies will remember how we dealt with it up till now.