W.Not wanting to sound like an episode of Poirot, I remember very well what I was doing on the evening of May 20, 2020, when more than 100 people were invited to an event. BYOB party In the Prime Minister’s garden, “to get the most out of the pleasant weather.” When they recovered from an “extraordinarily busy period”, it could be guessed, laughter, friends and their own bottle of wine, I was in my house. Like them, I drank a glass of wine, although I drank it myself. I then went for a walk around my block where I bumped into a friend in his “daily allowed exercise”. We spoke a little over two meters away. He expressed his condolences. I thanked him and returned home alone. May 20, 2020 was the day I buried my sister.
Like those who gathered on Downing Street with their bottles, I broke the existing government guidelines for reducing the spread of covid-19 in familiar gardens. After the funeral of my sister Karina, I went to my mother’s house. It was a hot summer day and, while circumstances didn’t really allow me to “get the most out of the pleasant weather,” the sun allowed me and my other sister, Kirsty, to sit in our mother’s garden in the state. -Distance from each other, and remember the many joys and stresses brought by Kareena’s life. There were three of us in the garden, from three separate houses, one more than allowed. It may not have been exactly in the letter of the law, but we at least counted it out of our grief.
Fortunately, we can stay physically, if not emotionally, away from each other. Kareena had died from covid And we felt that we had to take the best possible precaution to prevent the spread of the disease. We sat in three different points in the garden, in the most unfamiliar conditions in the familiar garden furniture. We did not hug, we did not allow any comfort of physical touch: we thought it would be so safe. Physical contact, after all, they instructed us to ignore. For 48 years my mother had been fighting to keep her disabled daughter happy and alive. For 48 years, when Karina fell ill, my mother slept in a hospital chair for weeks, days without sleep, sacrificing her health for Kareena’s health, driven by the love that only parents can know. And now Karina was dead. And we couldn’t hug each other. It was dark, yes, but it was a time of unparalleled global uncertainty. An incomparable, united sorrow had swallowed us all. Families around the world were torn apart by pain like ours. So, in some ways, it felt like we were all in it together.
A few hours ago, we got into a separate car at my father’s grave. Wearing masks and latex gloves, Kareena’s coffin was dropped on a newly dug plot next to her, and as we watched six strangers, two gravediggers stood by the fence. A priest, hiding behind another tomb, invited me to speak. I tried to hold back the tears, thanking Kareena for the extraordinary role she played in our family. A small speaker played abba thanks to the music, the songs were slightly drowned by the poppy of the willow tree above. We threw some mud in her coffin, got back in our separate cars and returned to my mom for a piece of chocolate cake on disposable plates. I had brought my own. Our story was one of thousands of similar incidents up and down the country. We were, we comforted ourselves again, all together in it.
That evening, when I was walking alone, the streets were quiet. How sad it all is, I thought, how devastatingly sad. And yet, what a relief to see and hear these manifest absences; Silence that speaks of self-sacrifice and mutual respect. The tomb bathing in my corner of London was the result of a shared commitment to the Pallor rules, which were designed. They, To protect us, our loved ones and our wider society. I walked past my neighbors’ house; Friends who are swept up by screentime and family dynamics, not sure how long it will all last, have no access to society outside of their phones, windows are open to mitigate against that lovely, pleasant weather. I am grateful that my community takes the deaths of people like my sister as seriously and deeply as I do. Their imprisonment was a silent but heartfelt sympathy for families like mine. They knew, they felt, we were all in it together.
Well, no All Among us, it turns out. No They.
The garden of Downing Street separates me from the corner of London less than two miles away. I am, today, stunned by the glitter of those glasses, the echoes of their thin laughter, the rejection of the fantasies they have imagined, and, most fatally, the leadership that encouraged it to happen. Their actions feel like a direct attack on the face of my family, and our common national, tragedy. For me, and for sure, to show the sympathy or solidarity of many others in the revelation and the repeated failures of those in power, what the people of this country experienced at that time is a stench-free body. Toxic that I can’t see how they will be able to put it back in the bottle, no matter how hard they try. They can’t point fingers anywhere else this time, can they? Finally they brought the bottle themselves.