'Into each life some rain must fall' Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
In Aotearoa / New Zealand we continue to swing back and forth between minor outbreaks of Covid and Levels of protection. Recently all known cases have come from quarantined New Zealanders returning home. Six weeks ago, after a community outbreak in Auckland, the whole country went back into Level Two and Auckland - our largest city - went into lockdown for two weeks.
Breaking news today is another community case recorded in Auckland that cannot be traced back to the border or to quarantine facilities.
This is worrying. Auckland may have to once again go into lockdown. The country may have to go into Level Two or Three. This is a continual worry or threat. We are grateful that we can go about 'business as usual' while a lot of the rest of the world cannot. But we cannot afford to get complacent. Not until there's an antidote made available - and realistically, that could be a year or two away.
Meanwhile we continue in this fragile state. We are encouraged to use the tracing app and to wear masks and to practise social distancing when in crowded spaces. But from my observation the old Kiwi 'she'll be right mate' syndrome is prevailing. I have yet to see more people than myself using the app when I enter a shop etc. and sometimes to be honest, I forget too. And as for masks. Along with the rest of the world, we are not fans. They have yet to become common, everyday, every place attire in New Zealand. However, after the community outbreak case picked up in Auckland yesterday, I will be donning one when I board the plane north next week.
I have struck a bit of a (very welcome) lull after a really busy period. Most of the busy-ness was a result of follow up to the launch of my poetry book, Upturned. This involved poetry readings mainly. Some readings were organised and then had to be cancelled and / or postponed as we ducked and dived between Covid precautions and restrictions. A certain amount of gather also happened as postponed events and new events clumped together after restrictions were lifted. The opportunity to use what time was available before another restriction arrived, was grasped at, causing almost a backlog of events suddenly released like water in a dam.
Through all of this activity, I travelled to Wellington, staying there for nearly a month, giving me time to catch up with my brother and sister there and to promote my latest poetry book, Upturned. It was a chance to get together with my publisher and editor, Mary McCallum and her team at The Cuba Press. There was a buzz and an energy to it all which I enjoyed and appreciated.
However, near to the end of my stay, this exciting time full of pleasant activity and sights was marred by the sudden death of my brother in law while I was staying with him and my sister. I still can't quite take in that this actually happened. He suffered a heart attack and was taken to hospital by ambulance, but had another heart attack while there and didn't recover.
I and another sister plan to travel up to Wellington next week to stay for a few days with our bereaved sister to support her a bit more at this deeply traumatic time. I say 'plan to' because in these days with the possibility of Covid popping up unexpectedly, any plans by necessity are subject to the possibility of a community outbreak somewhere, someplace, and the subsequent precautions of disruption and cancellations.
The sudden death of my brother in law has shaken me, as any sudden shocking event does. Things fall into perspective (I very quickly sorted out priorities from side-line concerns.) The present moment becomes more meaningful. Family / whanau takes precedence.
I did have a literary festival to attend as I was part of one of the events, and my sister urged me to keep to that commitment. I felt bad leaving her but was reassured she'd be okay as she had her daughter with her and other family members close by. However, my heart really wasn't in the excitement that a literary festival creates. Especially one that was able to be held during Covid, making it extra special and unique. My capacity for delight was only able to rise to the halfway mark before it hit the sadness I felt for my sister. The shock hadn't worn off and I was getting flashbacks (and continue to even now, three weeks on.)
This half-happy, half-sad state remains. But I am not in no rush to evict it. It is simply part of the process of recovery - a process I intend to let happen as it should, naturally and in its own time. I am tending towards keep a low profile (keeping my head down) during this recovery time. Probably a good thing - that way maybe in a funny way, Covid and its repercussions cannot take any pot shots.
All of the above photos were taken a day or two before my brother in law died and reflect his and my sister's locality. They were taken on a sunny day when we walked along the beach. A day when we had no idea what was around the corner. Like everything in life.
All the more reason to 'Stay with the ragged joy of ordinary living and dying ' (Donna Haraway)
Update: So far the community case is being contained and Auckland did not have to enter any precautionary alert levels.