Counting our Blessings

Let me be quite clear: we know how very fortunate we are, Mr Blue-Shirt and I. While life is not much fun just now, it isn’t awful either. We have space aplenty inside the house and could even self-isolate separately if the worst happened. That said, our chances of contracting Covid-19 seem vanishingly small since neither of us has been within two metres of another person (and certainly not without mask and gloves) for very nearly three weeks now, and we are otherwise fit and well with no underlying health conditions. Many are not so fortunate.

We are not short of space outside either: we can stroll or sit, stride out or simply ‘be’, enjoy sun or shade, and views in three directions. We know that for all too many even a balcony to sit out on, never mind a garden, would be a blessing. And even with the extremely limited radius within which we are now permitted exercise, we are at least still able to stretch our legs a little and briefly enjoy a change of scene. Many are not so fortunate.

That said, life feels far from relaxing, despite the absence of all the daily dashing about. But then again, we don’t have the added pressure of bored and restless children to feed and clothe, educate and entertain, and simply to tire out; or harder still, a sick or disabled child to look after. Nor do we have the extra worry of care responsibilities for elderly and vulnerable relatives. Many are not so fortunate.

Then there are the countless thousands, if not millions, who cannot meet up with their nearest and dearest just when then they most need the sustenance of the powerful familial networks that are at the very heart of Italian society and form the basis of every family’s social life. But there are also those trapped in abusive relationships who now find themselves imprisoned with their abusers.

And there are those who can no longer work, not even from home, and cannot be sure if they will even have a job to return to once the crisis begins to recede and restrictions gradually loosen. For despite the comprehensive programme of economic rescue measures the government has been racing to put in place, it is taking time for financial help to find its way to those who need it most. And so concerns about paying the mortgage, making the rent or covering the car loan and more will be mounting by the day, and for some relief will simply come too late.

Then there are those who have contracted the virus and who will be fearful of how badly it might affect them, and concerned by how many more they might have transmitted it to. And of course there are those – more than 10,000 families now – who have lost someone to the virus, but who were not able hold their loved one’s hand or say their goodbyes in those final precious hours, and who then were not even permitted to grieve their loved one’s passing in accordance with their faith or to draw comfort and solace from time-honoured funeral rites and rituals.

So when our mood darkens, frustrations bubble up, and we start to feel hard done by, our thoughts turn to those for whom lockdown is a much weightier burden; we take a look around at all we’ve got, give ourselves a sharp talking to, and remind ourselves just how very fortunate we are.

Today, though, it seems that there could be the first tiny glimmer of light at the end of this very long dark tunnel, the first signs that the quarantine measures might just be beginning to gain traction. At last the rate of increase in infections looks as if it could be starting to slow, with the number of new cases falling for four consecutive days; the number of deaths, though still horrifically high, is eighty lower than the day before, and the number of patients who have officially recovered has almost trebled.  And so with these very early signs of hope, it will be just that little bit easier to adopt Churchill’s wartime mantra and simply ‘keep buggering on’.

Data courtesy of 20.03.20

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