Christmas 2020

Emma Rogan reflects on her year in 2020: an MS relapse, lockdown, coping with the challenges of life and celebrating Christmas in the year of Covid-19!

“A mighty dread has seized our troubled minds”, While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night.

This year was a haunted year. It started with a flare up of MS symptoms at the end of 2019.  I had limited power on the left-side of my body, needed to use a walking aid sometimes around the house, reduced my level of socialising because I couldn’t walk very far at all, and I reached out to my contacts for support. As it turned out, it was training for the awfulness ahead.

When the first Covid-19 lockdown was announced in Ireland in March 2020 and St Patrick’s Day was effectively cancelled, my fridge and cupboard were prepared but psychologically, I was not. I clearly remember the day I collected my child from ECCE and the lockdown was ‘on’. It was quick, it was definitive and despite the lessons from the rest of the world, it seemed like no-one knew how to handle what was going on. In Ireland, we were all still in the throes of wrangling from the February 8th election with the Good Ol’ Boys divvying up the spoils of power. Was it from then that Dr Tony Holohan became our leader? People were still getting on planes mask-less (imagine??), school tours were being blamed for bringing the virus into the country and there were racist attacks on our fellow humans. There was that one individual who flew in from the UK, took a train from Connolly to Belfast who spread it, right? The rumour mill was humming as we all tried to make sense of a situation that was not only way outside our comfort zone, I think it was beyond all our worst nightmares.

As I’m writing this, it’s all so darn surreal reviewing this impossible year. It is the bleakest mid-winter, where the relentless worry, the dread of lack of money, isolation, the pain of separation, the fear of not being able to breathe, the loss of a loving touch, and a holiday like never before weighs so very heavy on my heart. While I am watching the gorgeous Christmas dishes of Neven Maguire on TV, Christmas lights on the decorated tree and I am so thankful that I am alive, I am bruised and battered and sore and so very tired of IT ALL. Every one reading this has had their own personal hellscape to navigate. Personally, I was not ready for the containment, for the further isolation, for limited contacts and with two small children at home; I was not ready for the breaking of the bonds with family and friends. Like everyone else, I became accustomed to using all the different tools that could connect me with my loved ones over all the miles. But my children could not connect with others, they were isolated away from their friends and phone calls just weren’t cutting it. It has been the small things that got me through 2020. My armour of self-care has stood to me even on the darkest days.

The meaning of living and the nearness of dying can be transformed by the long perspective of all that endures: love, courage and kindness.” Rev. Lucy Winkett

Reconnecting with friends and family and returning to things I love, has maintained my spirit and reminded me of who I am. All of it- the messages & GIFs in the many WhatsApp groups or marking the milestones for my beloved children, despite the crushing cruelty of 2020, I move into the New Year knowing this present moment is hard but knowing that this moment will pass. By the light that shines in the darkness, I am ready and willing to make the most of 2021. May we all be well and find the light that in the darkness each and every day.