Hollow

When you have suffered the death of a loved one, describing the sense of loss that comes with it can be the hardest thing to do. Sometimes it is because you lack the words, sometimes because the energy to give to it just doesn’t exist. Other times it is because you yourself can’t put into words what you are feeling. And the feelings just keep evolving. No day is the same. No emotion is constant. All you know is that something’s amiss, something’s not quite right.

It is kinda how I have been feeling about the past couple of weeks. I kid you not, I have started writing a new article almost every week and none of them have come to completion. They all die an uneventful death on my laptop. 

I love to write and the act of writing itself is very cathartic for me. Ironically it is this action of writing that has had me paralysed for the past few weeks. Everything I have tried to pen down doesn’t stick. Sometimes just after a few lines, other times just after a couple of paragraphs. It presented like writer’s block but was not quite the same. 

It took me some time to figure it out but eventually I got there. I was grieving. No deaths have occured in the family, thank goodness. I was grieving life as I have known it to be, BC. Before Covid.

All of last year I tried as much as possible not to write about the pandemic and its effect on our livelihoods. Not because I was ignorant of or oblivious to what was happening, but because this platform is one of peace and release for me. I was not going to let what was happening as a result of the virus taint my happy place. So I wrote about love and lust and everything in between; some things real and others not, some things that got me angry and others that brought me immeasurable joy. I wrote anything that tickled my fancy, just not anything to do with the virus.

It has been about a month now since I went back to working full time from the office. Last year I was working from home and earlier on we had a hybrid system that needed me to show up at the office twice a week tops, and only when necessary.

In the last month I have struggled with a couple of things. Sleep is for the weak, I tell myself every time I experience a bout of insomnia. This time round I have been begging to be weak. Sleep has been that elusive lover who only shows up to tease me before she goes off to have affairs with other people, leaving me forlorn and lethargic and pretty much in a bad mood. My tummy has decided we don’t need to eat. The shitty part is that it did not pass the memo on to my tongue. They are in a perpetual state of conflict! 

What hit hardest, though, was the level of anxiety I had (have) around the unknown. I had a sense that coming into 2021, we would be rid of the Rona, and we would have a fresh new year without having to deal with the pandemic. It was like this shadow or weight would be lifted as we started a new year. In my view, that seemed to be the mutual expectation of almost everyone, coming into the new year. I guess that’s why we were all so ready to be done with 2020. Right? 

So I began my year knowing that soon, we would be rid of this virus. Soon we would no longer need to walk around with masks. That soon, we would go back to socialising like we used to. And that all would be well with the world, just like it was before the pandemic. And for a while there, I just coasted through life, feeling with every new day that if not today, then tomorrow, all will be well with the world again.

But with many passing days, it finally dawned on me that nothing is changing. Yes, we have vaccines but we still have to wear masks and sanitise and social distance and we still have curfew. And all this makes me sad. The hardest bit for me right now is that one of the ways to keep safe is to have my little humans wear a mask to school and keep it on the whole day, every day. But that’s just what life is, right now.

Another thing I have struggled with is that we are all moving like everything is fine. But is this really true? Will it ever get better than this? 

The personal struggle point that got me to feel like I have suffered a loss was the realisation that what I consider normal may never be normal again. Everyone expects me to operate like all is well, when all I feel most times is the sinking fear that everything is not okay. And this feeling has had me anxious and scared about the uncertainty of it all. Will we go through a new wave? Will the virus keep evolving? Will we have to incorporate new measures just to keep safe? When will I get back to feeling some level of normalcy? 

I realised I have been mourning life as I knew it. I miss how carefree I was before the virus. I miss the ability to leave the house and not worry about all my interactions for that day and if they will leave me exposed to the virus.

That heaviness that one experiences with loss has been taking residence in my body. And it is only now that I am taking the time to face my grief. It seems to take the life out of me, some days. It is gnawing at my creativity. It has had me question my sense of purpose. At times I wonder – if there are no guarantees then where is the sense in planning for the future?

I know that all hope is not lost. I know that. It still doesn’t make the sucky feelings automatically go away.

And just as is customary of grief, it has no timelines, no warnings, no heads-up. It just shows up unannounced. The silver lining is that now I am hyper aware of what I am experiencing. And I have made a promise to myself, to not let it bog me down. I have promised myself to recognise the emotions that come along with it, and to give myself the grace, when I need it, but also motivation, to get things done because just like time, grief waits for no man.

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