Operation Oysterhood: 6 April

OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.

— @HaggardHawks

The stay at Oudrif was blissful, the return home filled with sadness.

Throughout my life, I have lost many homes, but until recently there had been one that our family could always return to no matter what else fate had in store for us. It was the place where my paternal grandparents used to live in Kowary, near Jelenia Góra (where I was born). When my grandparents passed away, my Aunt Iwona continued living in the beautiful flat on the top floor of an old tenement with a view of Śnieżka, the highest mountain of the region. She decided to sell the flat a few years ago, but my connection to the place still continues through a dear childhood friend who lives on the ground floor of the building. She wrote to me over Easter to say that her mom, a caring, wise woman who always had a generous smile ready for me when I arrived for a visit, passed away because of Covid-19. And the neighbour living above them, also a strong presence throughout my childhood, succumbed to the disease too. Just before Easter, Poland was reporting around 30 000 new cases and around 500-600 deaths every day.

It is impossible to take in. Shock after shock, tragedy after tragedy, and a strange kind of numbness. My friend sent me pictures of their beautifully decorated Easter table with all the traditional dishes set out for the meal and she wrote of the emptiness the family is feeling, that the reality of their situation refuses to sink in. Grief intensifies on these occasions, I know from my own experience. And I know exactly how acute the pain must be for them right now. I am overcome by sadness, but I also know that I am somehow blocking the full impact of what is happening to strangers and people I have known my entire life alike. It is a survival strategy, and it is another form of loss. We don’t allow ourselves to grasp fully what is happening. Not at all times. We carry on. We get up in the morning, our hearts heavy, and we take care of our families, do our work, meet with friends, laugh, survive. Anything else would probably be unbearable. At least that is how I seem to cope (when I manage to).

We hope, continue believing in miracles. Here is proof they happen:

My dear friend Helen could celebrate Easter with her sister and niece. She posted this photograph on Twitter and said: “Picture of a miracle. My sister and her daughter today, visiting me for Easter lunch. Sister’s 1st outing since getting Covid 4 months ago – month on a ventilator, 9 weeks in ICU, 3 weeks in nursing home. This is resurrection.”

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”

— NICD

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