Most of us today have lived in relative peace our entire lives. Some of us have grown up listening to tales from older relatives about wartime hardships, but (thank god!) haven’t experienced them.
With the world-wide outbreak of COVID-19, we now face experiences only heard of from past generations. This morning while talking to my 92-year-old mother, Doreen, she compared her self-isolation to the necessity of going night after night to her family’s bomb shelter during WWII in England. It took me a minute to realize that as shocking as that statement was, how profound it also was. It made me reflect on the generation that came before me. Aunts and uncles and grandparents that spent years dealing with hardships, that we right here and now can’t imagine. Yes, it was weird walking into a grocery store this week to find empty shelves, but how did they cope with it for years?
My grandmother, Amy, lived through WWI, so as WWII was breaking out in 1939, she realized what was coming and went out and bought as much canned food as she and my Aunts could get. She also stockpiled a few cases of French Champagne and wines, and this hit me this week, as we bought a few bottles of wine. Luckily we know that the wine store will restock, but it got me thinking… what must things have been like for them?
We can and are self-isolating, and have the security of our own homes. We also have food delivery services and access to health care and more. What must it have been like for our parents and grandparents to have gone through years of terror and the unknown? I can sit tonight in my living room with a glass of wine, after dinner and switch on Netflix to escape what is happening in the world for a couple of hours. That’s when I realize we are blessed and this terrible virus will eventually pass.
I want to take this next few weeks to take stock of what is important. I think we all need to do that. My husband and I can walk Madison in isolation and still look up as Spring slowly appears around us, and don’t have to worry about bombs falling.
We can use this time to take a break from toxic politics on media, and instead call friends and relatives to check in. We can get back to quiet dining at home, without the noise of people around us. Our ancestors dealt with the horrible death and destruction of wars. I grew up with those stories, as uncles and my father recalled those times of war, just as my aunts talked about empty stores year after year.
I’m using these moments while the world stops, to take stock of who and what are important in my life. Once this is over, we as a planet can grieve together for our losses, and we can heal together and take these lessons with us into the years ahead. I know jewellery shows will resume, and in a couple of months I will probably stress over a box of crystal stones being stuck in customs, or worrying over a deadline looming to finish a tiara, but I will also take a big deep breath and give thanks that that is my biggest problem.