With cabin fever setting in, this IMAGE writer takes us through five things that she will never take for granted ever again
None of us ever thought we would be in this situation.
Maybe it was naivety or ignorance, but we just didn't think it would happen to us, did we? Now we live in a different world, our day-to-day lives upended – and we're beginning to realise the little things that we once took for granted.
Never has the saying "our health is our wealth" been more appropriate to utter. Not just for individuals but the country too. Our health and the health of our nation is more important than any job or amount of money.
It has only been 14 days since our government made the decision to close schools and universities and ask those who could, to work from home.
However, it seems like an eternity. Cabin fever has well and truly settled in. I have barely left the confines of my home since and while I am lucky to live on barren bogland, I still feel trapped. My home is a jail that locks me away from the excesses of the world.
This in itself is unsettling.
How used we have become to a world where we don't sit still? We always had somewhere to be and someone to see and now that has been taken away and it's discomforting. The freedoms we are accustomed to are no longer available to us and while we accept it, we don't particularly like it.
I, like everyone else, cannot wait for the day the cloud lifts and we get to see the sun. I realise now how much I have taken for granted. Some are small, some are large but each significant parts of our lives.
A friendly smile
On days when I have ventured into the outside world, the distrust and suspiciousness are hard to ignore. It's like being in a live version of The Hunger Games but with coronavirus. We all seem to think the other is infected and our mannerisms have adapted as such. That is not to say there is no kindness – there is – but we are wary. When this is over I will perpetually revel in random hellos and smiles from strangers.
Unlike our neighbours across the pond, us Irish have never been the champions of physical affection. A handshake does the trick for us, but wouldn't you miss it? Human connection in a physical sense is a human need. Now we can't hug our families, kiss our beloveds or pet the dogs of strangers. Knowing it is for the good of our health doesn't make it any easier, but the day will come when we can hug our grandchildren, kiss our mothers and hold the hands of a lover.
And when it comes, it will be the sweetest.
I am lucky that I am currently hiding from the world with my immediate relatives but I miss the aunts, the uncles, the cousins and the grandmother who make life so luminous. This part of the process is severe but it has taught me to cherish the inner and outer links and the priceless moments we get to spend with them.
Sitting with friends
Apps like Houseparty and Zoom allow us to communicate freely with our friends. We see their faces and you can converse with more than one at the same time. Nonetheless, nothing beats sitting with your friends in real life while sipping a cold drink in a beer garden.
I miss my friends. I miss knowing that I can see them at the drop of a text. We forget how integral they are to our lives and how lonely life would be without them. They are joyous randomers who decided to take a front-row seat in my life, and for that I thank them.
This is a weird one but let me explain. A family friend has died in recent days and because of the virus a normal funeral cannot take place – heartbreaking isn't the adjective to use. If there is one thing we do well in Ireland, it is honouring our dead. Our funerals are celebrations of life. The good is lauded, the messy acknowledged and the spirit defined. There is a closure we get from the ritual that currently can't be retrieved. Goodbye is different now and when it is said it feels like it has been spoken into an endless void.
When this is finally over, I will never dismiss the way in which we say farewell.
We are truly blessed and we don't even know it. We have the freedom to move and to live without restraint. Though it may not feel like it now, we will get this privilege back. To walk into a bookshop, to drink a coffee in a bustling park, to sway at a concert and to travel to wherever we please.
I will never, ever take this liberty for granted again.
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