Covid-19 – the return of Sunflower Journey
I used to dream of the world actually stopping, taking a pause and giving us all a chance to take stock and make sense of an ever faster perpetually spinning planet. I almost regret even having those thoughts as it really has stopped, life has changed beyond our wildest dreams and we are all grieving as we come to terms with this new calm v chaos.
For our little family we are grieving on multiple levels. Mum died without warning just at the beginning of lockdown and words will never do justice to how heartbroken I feel. I’ve lost someone who felt actually part of the physical me. Everywhere I look has evidence of her, and her voice speaks continually in my head. It is a strong and happy voice of someone that truly lived every day.
The world actually did stop that day. As the reality of Covid-19 in the UK scaled I can’t help feeling both the positives and the negatives of grief in this current context. There is no normal routine to try and make sense of, no normal buzz of everyone else being happy and getting on with their lives which in some ways is therapy. But we also couldn’t bring together friends for the funeral to be there as a shoulder to cry on, and it isn’t possible to immerse ourselves in others presence that brings strength and love to our days. Our grief is in a time lapse, to be unpicked at odd moments when we have strength to do so, and perhaps at most when we start to emerge out of our homes and see each other once again. Perhaps there is some comfort in a slower pace of grief. I realise we are all grieving for the lives we led just seemingly moments ago. So much has changed across every corner of the world.
Nature is awakening and breathing again. This video of New Zealand – Papatūānuku (our earth mother) is breathing – radiates hope for the planet we will respect again as we emerge from this crisis.
Mum died on a full moon, and that is strangely very meaningful for her and I. We often joked that we were affected by the moon cycle and it feels very poignant that she chose to leave in exactly that moment. As we have just passed a month since Mum died, the full moon was this time a supermoon, and quite the most spectacular I have ever seen. My body truly twisted and grumbled fighting and flowing with its energy and early morning walks witnessing the moon set and the sun rise in just a few moments of each other. These walks and this time of day gives me reassurance that I, that we, will get through this.
I take comfort in the early mornings. Mum and I and generations before us in our family have been early risers, not able to sleep in and lured out of our beds to take energy from being amongst the freshness at the start of the day. When Dad was ill, the only advice he would leave me for my future was to learn from mum – to learn her ability to wake up and feel fresh and positive every single day, and that she did, and I am proud to be that too. The recent weeks since mum died has seen me out walking or running as the sun is rising, and I think this is totally what gets me through each day, and keeps me focused on important work as a mother and in my work.
This is the time for Sunflower Journey to remerge. These days in lockdown takes us right back to Cambodia, where Sunflower Journey first began back in May 2014 – just 6 years ago when the boys were just 7 and 8. We were volunteering in Cambodia, but the days could also be challenging, long and lonely. The culture shock of arriving in Battambang was so extreme, and the toll on us physically and emotionally was absolutely nothing less than significant. But we adapted. We learnt every moment of every day. 6 months without school – no internet, no books, no friends, no TV – just us and each other. Yet they grew significantly from the simplicity of everyday life, taking pleasure in simple routines and the highlights of activity each day. I truly believe this set a foundation from which to grow and appreciate the world around us.
We can do this again in the weeks ahead. We can all do this from the safety of our homes, taking this time to appreciate simple things, and marvel at nature showing us its most magnificent self, despite the horror of Covid-19. Humans have this incredible ability to adapt. We are all seeing it in ourselves now as each day passes, we adjust to the new flow of the day, our travel restrictions and what we no longer now need or feels unimportant during this time.
As I look back on the posts I published back during our travel adventures, I notice Mum always commented. Mum truly followed our journey, the highs and lows and was so proud of all we were learning and seeking to be. We missed her hugely and it didn’t take much for her to race out to find us in Malaysia, and for us to soon be lured home to be with family again.
This an anxious time for us all. We are all concerned for friends and families and I have found myself seeking out old friends I’ve not contacted frequently enough, and wider family who now feel more important than ever. All those I hadn’t kept so much contact because the days and weeks were too busy, and yet right now represent the very foundations of who I am. I think that speaks volumes and will be one of the lessons to take forward as we emerge.
It is exhausting battling through the responsibility of children, work and grief. We are reducing our own anxieties and confinement by focusing just on the day ahead, keeping things simple, allowing space for us all to be together and yet respect our own needs and commitments. My home teaching skills are pretty much still at zero – work is intense seeking ways to support the charity sector with DOT PROJECT through this crisis. I call us second-line workers – behind the scenes, from our own homes, doing the best to make a difference with the skills we have. It gets me through each day to focus my energy on positive work, and know that mum would be prouder than ever.