I usually don’t hate it so much when Hannah is right. Was it really just two weeks ago that the car driving in front of her slowed down and threw a heavily pregnant terrier on the road and into our lives? Yep. And after calling to inform me about the newest member to join our crew, her next comment was about the fact that Pixie and her soon-to-be-born puppies would be a great distraction for the girls when the country was on lockdown. So I will begin my four part apology for calling her a “drama queen”, by asking how the hell do you so casually predict the most unprecedented state of play in a generation? Practical mothers. Where would we be without you?
So, she was right and the “new normal” has been changing by the day. Last Monday, I was worried that the band I had put together was slightly under-rehearsed for the belated birthday party I was throwing for myself on Saturday. By Wednesday, the anxiety levels I was feeling for having people gather in my name was making me nauseous. Then the schools closed, Italy went into lockdown with soldiers on the streets, Canadian Parliament was shut down, and it became apparent that maybe my party wasn’t that big of a deal, all things considered. So, I sent out a text informing everyone that the party was off, and was barraged by replies of relief that hard decisions didn’t need to be made.
A few people decided to ignore the directive they were given and came anyway. They knew we weren’t going anywhere. There were ten of us spaced evenly around the library. Everyone had their own glass identifiable by different coloured loom-bands, stolen from my children. There was no physical contact. No one dared cough. And constant trips to the toilets. No, not to do cocaine like in the eighties, but to wash hands. You gotta be on your game at a lockdown party.
But it was brilliant. Songs were sung, stories told and everyone soaked up as much fun and happiness from those around them as they could, until the next time…
Yesterday, we laid off all of our staff and signed on the dole. At least that means that Hannah and I will get a raise. All of these quickly moving facts were unimaginable when we met Pixie two weeks ago. Yet here we are, busily corresponding with guests to confirm cancellations, with suppliers to work out some kind of arrangement amidst all this uncertainty, and trying to find ways to keep us busy in the approaching silence. I must admit, puppies are a brilliant option. Right again Hannah.
Today is St. Patrick’s Day and today’s “normal” saw myself, Hannah and the girls form our own parade on the driveway, brandishing one homemade Irish flag, a tin whistle and a ukulele, playing The Soldier’s Song on repeat. At least it was raining. That was the same as every year.
And so, as the world holds its’ breath and waits for this madness to pass, I’d like to share with you some thoughts my sister sent to our family.
“Be kinder than you think you need to be, mare patient than you think you need to be, and even more cheerful than you think you need to be. Every single person’s under a kind of strain we’ve never experienced before. We need to meet this – and each other – with so much love and as much humour as we can.
Love to you all.