08.00, Thursday 19th March
Total cases Germany: 12,327
Total deaths: 28
Total recovered: 105
I am doing my utmost not to leave the house. There are two reasons for that. One, I do not want to help to spread the virus. Two, I do not want my family or I to catch the virus especially as my husband, my daughter and I myself, all have asthma, so we’re considered high risk.
I am one of those people who consumes news. That is, I read the news, a lot. I watched the virus from afar, in China, and I was horrified. And I felt trepidation. My children call me their dragon mother. They always proudly recant stories of me, puffing up my chest and blowing out my flames at any remotely dubious character who would even dare to glance in their direction.
So I started rabbiting on to my husband about that proper larder I had been planning on installing in the cellar for the last couple of years. He readily agreed that it wasn’t actually a bad idea.
Then the numbers in our almost neighbour Italy, suddenly shot up. And luckily, I was ahead of the curve.
It seems to me that Germans (at least in my area) haven’t quite got the concept of supermarkets. They still tend to go shopping most days. Whereas I’m a buy in bulk kind of lass. Partly because of my British heritage. Partly because I have four whole children. And going shopping with four whole children is a mammoth task. Two of my children are ‘blessed’ with ADHD, one of those is also sprinkled with autism. Growing up, our shopping trips meant once a month, a big, massive shop with two overflowing trolleys and then, every now and then an attempt at nipping out to top up milk, bread and other fresh stuff. Even that became a bit too much at some point. So I started having our milk and yoghurt delivered and a fruit and veg pack for a while too. Those deliveries may well have saved my sanity.
As the years went by, kids started moving out, and I starting relaxing and going shopping alone more and more often. I love cooking, so I would really let the food inspire me.
But experience is experience. So before almost anyone else started ‘hamstering’ as the Germans call it. I was standing in line, once again with my two trolleys full to the brim of things we regularly eat and drink, but have a long shelf life (the shop assistant looked rather surprised). I had decided, before the shit hit the fan, I would get myself together and sort my larder out once and for all! Not only that, I would give my two grown up children who have moved out, but live on a pittance, a few bits and pieces to keep them going too. Let me assure you: I am not greedy. I did not buy anything we would not normally use and I did it at a time when the shelves were full and everything was in abundance. And since then, I have only bought regular levels of shopping.
I am organized. I am one of those irritating mothers who has an itinerary planned for a holiday.
I’ve also realized that, any time I hit a crisis my reaction is to feed people. Be it a death, a storm, or a virus.
I think it’s how I take control.
They announced the schools were closing as of Tuesday. I was so glad. The numbers of ill people had been rising day after day. My asthmatic daughter was squashed like a sardine on the bus and I was fearful. So fearful, I had started losing sleep.
I just wanted to have her at home and put her in a cocoon. And stand guard over her.
I might be the dragon mother but this dubious character, who wants to attack my family is invisible.
I cooked. Soups mainly. I thought, if we get the virus we will need something healthy. I stayed up late until they all cooled down and then I put them in the new freezer.
On Saturday I also cried. A lot. I cried about my grown-up children. Who have stopped coming to visit because they are scared to infect us asthmatics. I cried about the people in Italy that I do not know. I cried about the people in Italy that I do know. I cried about my dad, who died, 40 years ago – the anniversary was the day before, on the 13th of March, – and when he died, he was the same age as I am now. Just 47. I cried about my mum and my step father who are not nice people and who want nothing at all to do with me, but I know there’s a high chance they would not survive this virus, should they get it. I cried about random acts of kindness. I cried about my daughter losing her job, her income and her premier the night before in the theatre. I cried about her happy bubble bursting and her insecurities awakening. I cried for friends who have diabetes, heart conditions, asthma and cancer. I cried for people I do not know and have never met. I cried for people who are alone and sad and scared and lonely. I cried with fear that I may never see my children have their own children and that I may never be able to be their dragon grandmother.
And then I dried my face and I started to cook.
I tried to plan how I could stay home as much as possible. How I could try and help people from inside my home. What could I offer? I wanted to go out and do my bit. It’s quite a hard realisation when it suddenly dawns on you, you can’t be the protector anymore. You have to be the protected.
So I called people. I wrote to people. I tried to see if everyone was OK. A lot of people were not OK.
Akasha had to go to school. I had cancelled work completely for the following five weeks. So we juggled things around and my husband drove her back and forth, so she at least didn’t have to be a sardine on a bus.
Friends call. They offer to deliver food and help in anyway they can.
I start to see my invisible foe everywhere. Is he on the box the postman just delivered?
I read somewhere that the virus can live on cardboard for 24 hours. Is it fake news? So I take the box in. And leave it sitting for 24 hours before I open it. I wash my hands, saying the alphabet twice. Just to be sure. You may think that I am paranoid. But the very next day two postal workers in Italy die from the virus and unions are demanding the closure of postal services. The day after that our postman has gloves on.
There’s no cheery banter at the door. Not much more than a brief thanks in that sudden, momentary contact.
I feel sad. It’s hard to motivate myself to do anything. I am so tired because I have trouble sleeping. And I have a persistent cough that I know is just from a previous bad cold. But I want to be healthy, so if I get the virus, I can fight it with all my might.
My mood improved dramatically. I felt more normal and motivated again. I realized that I probably went through a few stages and it seems to be happening to a lot of people around me.
The first stage is denial: I cannot believe this is happening. I cannot accept this. From my perception this is a longer stage for the young. When you’re young you feel invincible. And most likely, you haven’t experienced much death. Also, with this virus, the young don’t seem to be as badly affected as older people. At least, so far.
After that comes acceptance and with that often some kind of crisis. Maybe you feel angry, or can’t sleep, perhaps you cry a lot like I did, or start to be really anxious. This stage is horrible. But I think it’s important not to suppress it. Once you let it out you can get onto the next bit.
For me that’s definitely take control. Do something. This is a good stage. I don’t know however, what comes next.
We are all, suddenly, in the same boat. Young and old. Across the nations. Some of us are at earlier stages, others at later. This is our war and we need to fight it together.
I wish you all strength. I wish you all courage. I wish you all patience. Above all, I wish you all to feel the love from and give the love to one another.
10.15, Thursday 19th March
Total cases Germany: 12,343(+16)
Total deaths: 28
Total recovered: 105