This could become as much of a mental battle as a physical one

We’re wondering what kind of world will we emerge into after the pandemic crisis ends

The weeks go by.

And even though we were warned, I’m not sure we fully took on board the magnitude of this thing.

I battle the physical. My life’s been that way for a long, long time. Mentally, I’m quite used to it. I suppose I’ve been in a kind of semi-self-isolation for a long time in that I don’t/can’t do all the things I once did habitually.

But at least, until a few months ago, I could breeze up to my sports club in Terenure and have a few glasses of wine with my friends.

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Those days are gone. For me, they disappeared last October, long before Covid-19 was ever mentioned. It was just after my last stay in hospital with a lung infection.

I left hospital with a warning about socialising. My doctor didn’t call it social distancing or physical distancing at the time. But only once since then have I visited the bar in the club. Prior to that, I used to visit just about every week if not twice at weekends.

And the once that I have been there since, in January, was only because I was told the place was virtually empty. Does that make any sense? I went to a bar because I was told there was nobody there!

But that’s what stir crazy does.

That’s why this could become as much of a mental battle as a physical one for many people.

Gardening

My wife, Connie, is lucky. She loves the garden and can spend hours making it look as beautiful as it does. It’s small, more a patio garden than anything else, but in many ways that makes it harder to turn into something wonderful.

I think she’s lucky to have that to occupy her and to love doing it.

Now, she’s hoping to get back to painting in those long hours every day when not too long ago, she might browsing in a shop or having coffee with a friend.

I’m not the only one who thinks she has a talent with brush in hand. If she gets back to the easel, well, that will be one little bit of silver lining out of this dark cloud.

Our daughter Charlotte was 14 last weekend. That can’t have been easy without friends to celebrate with.

Her school, St Louis in Rathmines, is doing a great job with online teaching.

She gets enough work to keep most of school hours occupied though I doubt the levels of concentration are as good as they are required to be with a teacher standing at the top of the room watching down!

It can’t be easy to be 14 and locked down unable to meet friends.

It can’t be healthy to be 14 and not out there doing things and learning things and experiencing things the way 14-year-olds are supposed to.

A few weeks ago, probably like the parents of teenagers all over the world, we thought she spent too much time online. Now? Well, if it wasn’t for the distractions provided by some of these admittedly dodgy social media sites (we do try to keep an eye on things without being too overbearing or intrusive or nosey) I don’t know what she’d be like.

Yes, she reads, if not as avidly as she once did.

But she genuinely needs to stay in contact with those friends she used to socialise with after school on Fridays and maybe some Saturday afternoons.

Discos were written into the diary. They’re gone now.

Birthdays

God knows when she will actually get to see a friend face to face again close up and for a hug - never mind for a happy birthday. Other friends too have spent their birthdays more or less cocooned.

When I think back to the Bakelite telephone in our hall with a lock on the rotary dial due to high bills run up by having four teenagers in the house, I wonder what my mother and father would have made of today’s technology.

We’re doing a lot of that too, aren’t we?

Wondering.

We’re wondering if this is going to get worse. We’re wondering if we’ll survive. We’re wondering how many businesses, now shuttered, will ever reopen. We’re wondering if people will ever travel the world with ease, comfort and in safety like they used to do.

And we’re wondering if and when it will ever end.

And we’re wondering what kind of world will it be into which we emerge.

Different, that’s for sure.

Better?

We’ll have to wait and see.