Like many people globally, everything in my life has changed in 2020. There is a card on my desk that says “It always seems impossible until it’s done”. Apparently we can credit Nelson Mandela with those knowing words.
So many times I’ve read that this year, knowing that if I just kept moving forward one day at a time, eventually things would be “done” and the sense of impossibility would gradually dissolve.
2020 has been a mix of gifts and challenges from the Universe.
In March my partner’s mother died. She had self-determination until the end, leaving her own home and us at 94.
A week later my last-remaining aunty – Mum’s younger sister – summoned my sister and I to say goodbye. We managed to laugh and enjoy the catch up we hadn’t had for far too long. She has always laughed just like Mum – with a real twinkle in her eye. After the laughter and a huge hug goodbye, we left there sobbing.
At the end of April, just 3 days before her 94th birthday, Mum left us too. The relief I felt was immense. She was tired. Happy, but tired. I had been missing Mum so much – the way she always had been – for years. She hadn’t been quite herself due to dementia, but she loved us and her face lit up every time she saw me, my sister or my nephew. We always said that Mum was all about joy. Live life, love with all your heart, have no regrets, and appreciate the world around you. She left a lot of love and joy behind.
Then a few weeks later, Dad’s heart broken by the loss of his ‘gorgeous girl’, he left us. Again, the relief was immense but the grief was heavy and unimaginable. Dad was ‘duty’ to Mum’s joy. He held on amongst huge physical restrictions at the end just to look after Mum. Their love was real and although not always perfect, it was unbreakable and deep and kept them together forever.
Of course in the midst of this grief, COVID-19 was unleashed on the world and restrictions did stop us from seeing our parents at times. But fortunately we were all there with them in the end. I’m so grateful they had no idea what craziness was actually happening in the world.
And in a time of sadness and grief, there are thankfully moments of unexpected delight and joy.
My partner and I headed to the Peninsula once COVID hit Australia in full at the end of March. We have been ensconced down here for months since that time working from home and renovating our house. How many trips to Bunnings can one couple possibly have? I don’t know but the answer is ‘lots!’ One particular Saturday morning, I suddenly decided to use the long piece of wood we were buying as a pole vault pole, a huge wand, a jousting stick and a sabre, practicing my fencing lunges up and down the aisle. We were in hysterics and even more so when over in the adjacent aisle, we saw a couple using the trolley as a sled. It really can be hours of fun in Bunnings – you just need to use your imagination! (I think it’s lockdown hysteria….!)
And in the mix of 2020 I decided to sell my house. Bad timing but may have been worse had I waited until Spring. It’s done now, and I face the prospect of leaving the home and area I was born in, and where I have lived for the last 22 years. It’s time and it all feels so right, but it also feels very strange to cut those ultra-thick ties.
The world of work of course has changed unrecognisably. Like many others I look at my wardrobe knowing I won’t really be needing the vast selection of ‘work’ clothes I have. It’s odd feeling pleased that I’ve shed something I don’t need any more and at the same time missing something I won’t need.
That’s been 2020. Letting go and wanting to hold on. Having freedom and yet being trapped. Experiencing grief and joy, sometimes close together. Being distant but communicating more.
But it’s only when we let go that we can move forward. This year we have all had to go with the flow and try to be fluid with work and plans and commitments.
And for all the grief in the world in 2020, there is also a lot of positivity and joy and creativity. And that is a wonderful positive legacy from this year – yet unfinished – that we can all learn from and be enriched by.