Living with loss in lockdown, one year on – thank God for daffodils

It is finally March, almost spring, and my life is one giant daffodil right now. The more I discover, the more there is to love. There’s the obvious ones of course (being Welsh and all that) on the St David’s Day outfits, and the giant foam ones on the heads of home-grown rugby fans nationwide.

There’s the roadside ones and the supermarket ones, the window-sill ones and the wild Sunday walk ones. Even my kids can’t escape the glory of those luminescent, banana-coloured beauties swaying in the sunny breeze – which are ‘just so beautiful Mummy’, according to my five-year-old on our recent weekend stroll.

Teary eyed, I swallowed a golf ball and strode on, endlessly thankful that the optimism and promise of new life the spring brings each year remains intact for another generation. This year, of all years, I needed to feel it too – the greys beginning to green, the mercury ever so slowly beginning to rise, the promise of less night and more day.

Because this month, on March 23rd, it will be a whole year since our first lockdown and ‘new life’ phrases, which have so quickly become commonplace, were introduced. 12 months since alien routines we have swiftly became well accustomed to were first brought in.

Self-isolation. Quarantining. Socially distancing. Shielding.

A whole year of missed diagnoses, of medical treatments being waylaid and delayed, of suicides, of ventilators and of PPE. A year of grieving husbands and wives, of children big and small losing parents, of mourners unable to properly mourn. A year where the dying died alone.

And at the end of it all, thank God, came the inevitability of spring and its many, many daffodils. Kerbside, hillside and tillside, try as I might, I cannot escape their optimism or, indeed, their significance.

Through my little obsession with these yellow beauties I have discovered that a modern-day philosopher once said ‘you normally have to be bashed about a bit by life to see the point in daffodils’, which is just bob on the money for spring 2021 isn’t it? And, of course, we already know Wordsworth found that lying on his couch in pensive mood was best remedied by picturing ‘ten thousand’ of them swaying in the breeze.

And the daffodil is also the symbol of Marie Curie, which I have been in conversation with too recently, and which is asking the UK population to commemorate March 23rd as a National Day of Reflection in recognition of the hundreds of thousands who have lost their lives during the pandemic, and all the families who have been bereaved as a result.

The UK end of life charity is calling on everyone to mark the day by reflecting on our collective loss as a nation, supporting those who have been bereaved and, crucially, in hoping for a brighter future.

So I’ll be putting the daffs out again then, of course, for my Mum, for our Ouma, and for the millions of other people who have had to say goodbye to someone they love in the most difficult of circumstances this past year.

This year – this endless, seismic, life-changing year of ‘on and off’ life in lockdown we have all had to, and continue to, endure.

For those who didn’t make it the full 12 months, and whose lives weren’t properly celebrated as a result, certainly the collective recognition of this nation is the least they deserve.

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