18 Aug 2022

Surviving coronavirus in Spain, and sad news from home

Kilkenny’s Cathy Hogan writes about living in lockdown in Spain

Surviving coronavirus in Spain, and sad news from home

Cathy Hogan, wearing some of Rudolf Heltzel's work

With Rudolf Heltzel’s passing last weekend Kilkenny lost a inspiring friend and the world lost a master goldsmith.
I have had the pleasure of knowing the Kilkenny branch of the Heltzel family for many years. It was an honour to work at the National Design and Craft Gallery when Rudolf presented a solo exhibition of awe-inspiring sculptural pendants in 2018. I even got to wear one of these exquisite pieces on red carpet at the Oskars charity event last year.
My heart breaks for Eva and all of Rudolf's loved ones coping with such loss during the pandemic. When we most need the comfort of family and friends, we are forced into this cruel isolation. I hope that they feel all of the love and support that is being sent from around the world.
Last week’s easing of restrictions in Spain did not affect my lockdown in any way; it mainly allowed factory and construction workers to return to their jobs. I still cannot leave home as Alan does our rare grocery shopping and I am not allowed to accompany him in the van.
The government here is planning to extend the State of Alarm until May 9 so life in lockdown continues into its sixth week as ‘normal’. Meanwhile, Pedro Sánchez, the president of Spain, has announced that from April 27 children will be allowed to go outside, under certain conditions. A glimmer of light...
This month there were rarely two days in a row when the numbers of those who have died in Spain due to Covid-19 rose or fell consecutively so I don’t look for a pattern anymore. If the curve is flattening, it’s at an excruciatingly slow pace.
And now there is chaos over which departments in which countries report what numbers, including or not, all of the older people dying in nursing homes, not to mention those who died at home.
It seems that Ireland is a shining global example for including every person who died with coronavirus. But I fear that the death toll will continue to rise in many countries for months to come, as transparency and sharing of databases improve. I believe that some governments deliberately hide the mess around the pandemic and that others think more about their popularity ratings than about the health of their citizens.
This lockdown period is loaded with ‘should have beens’ in the 194 affected countries - special birthdays, holidays, weddings, and other family and friends’ celebrations. Boy, have we all been given lessons in who and what really matters to us!
Last Thursday Alan and I were to sail from Bilbao to Rosslare with his van packed with deliveries, including a shipment of our favourite Spanish wines and food. I was going to introduce Alan to my family before heading away with the female clan members to celebrate my niece Claire’s hen party.
Many more gatherings were planned for the week, before we were to continue to Alan’s hometown in the UK for more introductions and celebrations there. Then we were to return via a drop-off in Germany. All in all, a wonderful work-holiday after a few months of work, planning and dreaming.
Instead, last Saturday night we had a Zoom virtual family gathering with three generations across 10 packed screens with siblings and their families around Ireland and in Boston.
It was an emotional experience for a large family that is used to being surrounded by crowds of all ages. But at least we got to be together for Claire, who is facing the possible cancellation of her August wedding and having her first child without all of the support that we are dying to give.
But we will all win this battle against the pandemic by staying apart and sharing our love and supporting each other.
I’ve been heartened by all of the positivity that I witness online. Especially from the older generation, like 99-year-old Captain Tom Moore, who raised over £25 million for the NHS by walking around the garden a hundred times - using his walker!
I adore the proliferation of free home fitness, yoga and meditation classes; the popularity of Zoom for families and friends to meet virtually. It’s great to see the gifting by authors and organisations of their paper and audio books or art classes and the surge in interest in gardening, DIY and home-cooking.
Last weekend’s Global Citizen with the World Health Organisation One World: Together at Home virtual concert was a fantastic event! The music industry and arts community appear to have come up with lots of lockdown-friendly opportunities to engage and entertain.
I am out of the loop with what is being offered to or created by teenagers and twenty-somethings. I’m wondering what platforms or apps from or for these age ranges have been created or have grown during the pandemic. I hope that there is an abundance of resources and groups online in education, entertainment, fitness (mental and physical), up-skilling, new hobbies, motivation and general sharing of positivity.
Alan and I continue to fight the periodic fatigue that we’ve been afflicted with for the past few weeks, still hoping to get tested one day. Another of my nieces moved to New York a few months ago, but returned to Ireland in March when she suddenly lost her senses of taste and smell. She received a positive diagnosis of Covid-19 and, after a week, recovered completely, but is staying put in Kilkenny for now.
As more people that I know share their varied experiences of viruses over the past four months, some verified as coronavirus, some untested, I grow more curious as to whether I have had it, and if yes, what that means post-lockdown, regarding freedom to travel and my ability to visit family and friends.
I miss hugging them.

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