On facing mortality, on being haunted by the past, and friends who left without a goodbye
I have not stepped out of my flat since the pandemic began in March, and I’m in no rush to once more explore the world outside my front door. Months under lockdown did not kill me, and boredom did not once drive me out of my mind. On the contrary, the Covid-19 crisis has given me strength and a deeper appreciation of life and the world around us.
Boredom and confinement had always been my biggest fears. Freedom to explore, create, initiate change, challenge norms, and defy traditions had marked my lifestyle since childhood.
Then came the pandemic, which confined seniors to the safety of our homes, closed down businesses and all gathering venues, and froze everything to a standstill. The end of the world, I thought I’d feel. How wrong I was.
My closets have always been stacked with to-do projects: crochet yarn, beads to string into necklaces, lengths of cloth to cut and sew, cans and jars of exotic ingredients for foreign dishes.
At the start of the lockdown, I lined up projects in my mind, mentally picturing every step of each activity and the resulting end products. Little did I know that my to-do stash would stay untouched. I had no time to be bored.
The lockdown gave me time to think back and try to remember details of events, pleasant and unpleasant, that shaped my life, with no censorship or regrets.
Like old movies, memories flash before me at night, in the twilight moments before falling asleep. Friends and relations, long gone, come to visit in vivid Dickensian dreams. Curiously, only dead past loves have appeared to say hello. I guess the living are too preoccupied with real life.
More than five months of introspection have made me realize that acceptance is the key to moving on.
I had, for decades, refused to look back at some events, which no one could erase or alter. They lingered in dark corners of my mind, causing nightmares and unfounded stress.
Today, thanks to the lockdown, I am able to unshackle ghosts of the past and consider them as lessons rather than mistakes.
Easing the uncomfortable process is the realization that I am almost alone, left behind by contemporaries, colleagues, friends, and accomplices. Nelly, Monica, Sylvia, Gilda, Ethel, Manay Ichu left quietly like autumn leaves dancing in the wind. They stay alive in my thoughts and are often in my dreams, keeping me calm and strong enough to face many more tomorrows.
Last night they egged me, “Go ahead, write that book!”
I think I will.