Main image by Denis Oliveira on Unsplash
Anyone who reads these blogposts and/or asks me how I am doing and waits for the pause while I run my eyes over their face, their ears over their voice, my brain’s interpretation system over their written words to assess for “checking in” or “real interest”, (and assuming I have time/energy/wherewithal to offer a complete and honest answer, which is a big assumption) will know that March feels hard.
Hard, heavy, painful.
That my heart – this month in particular – feels crushed. Sat on as if by an elephant. Or a rhino with its horn going through me at the same time. Sounds dramatic but it does feel like my heart is physically bashed and flattened.
I need to make an effort to breathe properly. Even sitting at my desk feels exhausting. As I have mentioned, I would be seriously worried about my physical health were it not for the fact that I feel no different (fitness-wise) when I go for a stiff walk with the dog or even a cross-country ski. It’s not so much lack of fitness. It’s just as if there’s no space.
It’s tiring. It’s wearing. It’s painful. I have to assume that when these very tricky months this year (Feb, March, April, May, June, July) are done, that I will feel different. I said to Medjool who was worried, if I am still saying this in August, then I will go to the doctor. Actually I said May, but in truth, May, June and July are very rough too.
Spring weather does help. Daffodils and crocuses, brilliant blue sky, fresh snow on the tops, longer days all help. It just is. And I accept it. So what to do with that?
It so happened that about a week ago, Megan contacted me twice in one day (live calls). I get lots of written whatsapp messages from her (sometimes as many as 7 in the space of a minute, ending with “MUDDER!” if she feels I am being a bit slow to respond. I think she’s learned that I turn off my sound and whatsapp when I have work calls. She gets around my unresponsiveness though by using FaceTime which seems to get through everything). But I don’t often get two audio/video calls in a day. She seemed well enough (one never knows), and said, “Mum – it turns out that I have a week off around Easter” (when it had seemed that the Dutch term went from January to June with but the Easter weekend for a break, and a reading week that I could not get to her for because of closed travel corridors). She added, that perhaps I might want to come over”.
I felt a subtle shift in my crushed-ness. Some hopefulness for soothing. Some healing balm working out some of the aches and pains, heaviness and stiffness. It’s complicated and messy to travel in these times, but search as I might, I couldn’t find anything actually prohibiting me from visiting the Netherlands for a few days. So my flights are booked, my accommodation in the same building as hers is booked, my two COVID tests before I leave are booked, as is my one COVID test the day before I return. I even have my faithful friend-taxi driver Alain booked for trips to and from the airport. That’s a lot of detail for one short trip. I will basically be in quarantine for the time I am there, though there is some good, practical Dutch-ness about their terms of quarantine – for example, I am allowed to walk around and be on a bike or walk along the beach, which suits me well. And there’s probably quarantine when I get back, but I feel like my entire life is quarantine at the moment so that won’t change much. I can still work.
It feels so right to do this. I am armed with Mike’s and Julia’s death certificates, Megan’s birth certificate and more to “prove” that this trip is essential. I NEED to see my kids. I ache to see Megan. It hurts to be alone so much of the time. And I think she needs to see me.
I feel like I am Breaking Bad, being a bad citizen, not conforming to restrictions. And I know that our circumstances, as a family, are so exceptional, that I trust there will be compassion at the borders.
I hope so. We’ll know soon enough.
Ferris Wheel at Scheveningen Beach near The Hague, Image by Nick Djalila on Unsplash