Today marks a year to the day that the schools closed in Ireland (for the first time), it was the last day that I worked with people in person. For me (and so many others) this was the day that marked the start of a life quite different from the one before.
I still can’t quite believe that a whole year has passed. A year of staying at home. A year of seeing hardly anyone. A year when the little things that we took for granted became longed-for luxuries. A year when ‘going for a walk’ became such an important part of the day. A year when something I’d never heard of before – Zoom – became a lifeline. A year when my baby became a little boy. A year when not much happened, but so much changed.
I wonder what I’d have thought if I’d known a year ago that the two-week school closures were going to last for months? I know at the time I didn’t envisage anything reopening after two weeks, but I definitely didn’t think that it was going to go on for as long as it has done. I still remember going straight from work to fill my car up with petrol as rumour had it that there were going to be shortages – I needn’t have worried, with not being able to go anywhere, that fill of petrol lasted me until May! I remember all the plans people were making about the books they’d read, the films they’d watch, the banana bread they’d bake, the things that they’d do because all of a sudden they had time that they didn’t usually have.
I know I was a bit more realistic about the extra time I’d have – very little, with a then almost ten-month-old baby, as well as working from home. But, even with that, I still found that there was a sense of calmness around my life which hadn’t been there before. Ever since I can remember I’ve always been busy. Always rushing from one thing to another. My brain buzzing with so many things to do. In many ways I liked being busy. But consequently I always felt quite stressed too. Suddenly that busyness was gone. A calm descended. I found I liked it. I liked the space. I liked the quiet. I liked not being tied to times. I felt that I could breathe. My life became about my little family and not much else. I felt (and still feel) so very lucky.
To be honest I think I’ve got a bit too used to the calmness, I’m not sure how I’ll cope when I have to go somewhere that’s full of people again! On saying that I have missed being around people, especially my family and friends, and I’m sure I’ll love that buzz that I get when I get to be around people again. But it’s made me see how crazy things were before, and how life doesn’t need to be that way.
I know I’ve been lucky in the past year, despite the difficulties, I’ve had time with my family that I’ll always treasure. I know it hasn’t been the same for everyone, some people have been terribly ill, others have had awful times, people have really suffered.
Hopefully things are now moving forward in the right direction. One day soon we’ll be able to hug people outside our household, go for a coffee, go into a shop without glasses steaming up (so frustrating), go to a restaurant, go for a swim, go to the theatre, go wherever we want to go with whoever we want to go with.
But I think I’m going to take some lessons from this time, things aren’t going to be the same as they were before. Life doesn’t have to be crazily busy to be fulfilling. Simple times are the best times. Time to do very little is a precious gift. The best thing in the world is to be with loved ones. And it’s good to take time to be calm and just breathe.