Before lockdown was announced, living our best lives was certainly taken for granted. I’m sure many will agree. A year ago today, life changed forever, and no one saw it coming.
Nobody knew how bad COVID really was or the potential it had to change everything. It was an unacknowledged “thing” that seemed so far away. That’s until one infection turned into thousands, and people started dying.
The hardest decision I had to make was deciding whether or not seeing my loved ones, my family, my partner, would be safe. Thoughts of isolation and loneliness coursed through my mind. How was I going to be okay? How would I deal with the feeling of having four walls close in on me? It all seemed surreal, like a bad joke.
The longing for my family, for normality, all seemed too much to bare.
Nevertheless, what helped me escape the harsh reality that was suddenly my life, was remembering to focus on the small joys: an intimate braai, spending quality time with my partner, slowing down and just being.
Exercising became a new and fun thing too. But chilling in the yard and listening to music was my ultimate. Neighbours all around enjoyed each other’s company with no complaint. What once was seen as a pain became a celebration. A sense of togetherness, while keeping those who were struggling in our thoughts and prayers.
I hated the news. I didn’t want to hear a single word from the radio or from Uncle Cyril because all it contained was death, and loss of business and jobs and homes. It broke me. I too was unemployed for most of the year. I felt helpless, useless – stripped of my independence.
Lockdown stirred up a lot of anxiety for me. I ached so much for my family that I found myself in a depression. I don’t think anyone could have predicted the mental health struggle that would come with this pandemic. But, in hindsight, it made me a better, stronger person.
I am eternally grateful for what I have. This is something I was constantly reminded of as so many suffered around me. People were hungry, homeless and helpless. I was able to have a good meal, I had a roof over my head. I learned to count my blessings and focus on what I do have, rather than that which I do not.
This past year made me realise how important family is. It made me appreciate my relationship with people. It made me grateful for all of my blessings. It made me aware of just how lucky I am to open my eyes each morning and be alive.
So, lockdown, I say thank you! Thank you for making me a better, stronger, more appreciative human being.
For those feeling alone, fighting the virus, suffering any kind of loss – I hear you, I see you, I feel for you. Keep strong and know that you will make it through because that’s what South African’s do.
– Leigh-Ann Londt