• The Knackered Truth

Stuck in New Zealand, Part Three (Life & Death)

police on patrol to enforce physical distancing. photo by Aaron Carlino

Day 39 of isolation. We are out of lockdown level four, which was INTENSE. Level four was total shut down with medical and markets the only essential services available. We’ve moved to level three now, which is allowing food delivery and takeaways. We’re not out of the woods yet, and you never know what will happen with this virus, but overall New Zealanders are impressive in their efforts, as the virus seems contained.

So what have we been up to?

Weeks one and two were actually okay. There was a lot of uncertainty and some adjusting took place. My kids and I walked down the street to find a chalk obstacle course drawn on the path by neighbourhood kids. Walkers would go out of their way to move into the street if they see another person in their path… and still say hello and thank you as they pass! Our dog escaped the house a few times and even then it was a contactless retrieval with a long-ass rope.Overall, there was a feeling like we were all going to look out for one another. New Zealanders have respected the guidelines and I am so grateful.

In those first few elastic-pants-wearing weeks, I was ridiculously silly. I could barely write a blog post. I was only able to focus on painting our living room and bedroom and trying to  navigate giving my kids daily activities. As an outlet, I created a satirical Quarantine character, QuaranTina, (see previous post) who was ultimately challenged by her privileged comforts no longer being available. It was more about making fun of myself and the comforts I often took for granted after I thought about the most vulnerable New Zealanders having a harder time without the modern day comforts of Netflix, fluffy blankets, and Mumford and Sons… or a safe place to stay in lockdown. I was attempting to bring that to light until it no longer felt right to even do that. Slowly my mood shifted to a more somber tone, which is where I am today.

Week three hit hard. Our death rate increased to ten.

I’m very sensitive to news around death. Not because I fear death itself, but because I understand what it does to those left living. I’ve personally had to endure a lot of grief early on in my life. I’ve had to learn how to cope with significant loss in my teens and it’s a pain I don’t wish upon anyone. Yet we all experience it at some point.

With the news of New Zealand’s covid-19 deaths, my heart has been heavy. I send my love to the families of those who died. And to think worldwide there have been 244,000 deaths (recorded) is unfathomable. Yes, I hear all the time how the flu kills this many and that many, often mentioned with a cavalier tone that makes me want to scream… yes, I get it.

We all die.

It’s the cycle.

Part of our life is death.

I understand that.

And I also feel it.

Do you?

If not, then why not?

Most likely, it’s because it’s really fucking painful.

And as humans, we tend to avoid pain. That’s my point though. Pain is there to wake us up and take a look around at what needs to change. Some people become paralyzed by pain, and some people just want to shove it deep down, hiding it with addiction or lies or any other unhealthy distraction.

I get it.

I’ve done that, too.

I feel like New Zealanders seem to understand this, but in case anyone else in the world needs a reality check, the covid-19 pandemic is killing people. People. Not just cases. It’s painful for those who get sick with it, too. The most vulnerable, most fragile, are dying. They die alone in a hospital surrounded only by medical staff. No loved ones are able to be there. No funerals are able to take place. This is an excruciating thought. Those families deserve more.

So, around week three and four, I had a big cry. I was chatting with my friend over Facetime and we had a sob fest. There was some comfort in being able to grieve on that level with another person even from far away. And you know what we did then?

We talked about birth! Both of us Mamas swapped birth stories about when we brought life into this world. Two Mamas who sacrificed their lives to bring new souls into the world and how we continue to nourish and guide them, at all stages of life. This is how it all begins… in a partnership with our birth mothers to work together to survive.

And then I cried some more. This time from gratitude.

Week six and New Zealand currently has two new cases of covid-19. There have been twenty deaths. 80% have recovered. I’m not gloating, I’m saying Thank you.

Thank you to New Zealanders. Thank you for taking this seriously. Thank you for the chalk drawings, for the distancing on the street, for the lovely greetings. Thank you for staying in the present moment and understanding this is bigger than you. Thank you for thinking of life and death. Thank you for valuing life over the mighty dollar. I know it’s hard, and I know our mental health is at stake, but we are doing it. We see results in our efforts. Thank you for the partnerships. Thank you for honouring these twenty lives, these members of our community who gave their time and energy and a shared moment on this planet with us, and who are now gone. Thank you to their families for carrying on.

We must carry on.

My family will carry on in life and death. We will continue to stay home through the tears, the silliness, the characters, the painting, and the pain.

What about you?



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