It would have been my mum’s 88th birthday today. Five years ago she was in her last days of life and the memories I have of being with her at that time are precious: decorating her room with cards, reading to her, bringing the kids to wish her Happy Birthday and holding the phone to her ear so she could hear nieces and nephews send her their love.
Later, when life was nearly done, just holding her thin hand, moistening her dry mouth, being with her when she seemed scared. As grim as it was, I am so thankful we could be with her, that she wasn’t alone.
Today, a close friend’s elderly mum is very ill in hospital with Covid-19. My friend can’t even visit her. Doctors and nurses in masks and visors are doing their best to give the comfort that in normal times, a family would bring.
Another friend lost a parent recently – not from Covid-19 – but social distancing rules meant only 8 or 9 people could attend the funeral, which was held outside in the car park. Family members could not hug or even stand close to one another.
This is tragedy behind every single one of the hundreds of deaths each day. What huge sadness it is that so many lives, well-lived, are ending alone and that bereaved families’ suffering is compounded by isolation. Human instinct is almost always to reach for physical contact with each other to help us through the most testing and painful experiences of our lives. Somehow we must somehow get through this without it.