Pandemic Stories: Daylight

As time slowly unfolded, daylight shimmered through the loss, the ache, the anguish. Softness had been there, inside of me, all along: underneath the grief, underneath the relentless self-loathing and merciless depression, a sweet softness shimmered through.

🦋 Medium launched an invitation to writers on their platform to share their pandemic stories & experiences, in retrospect of hitting our 3-year mark following the outbreak. here is my own story, entitled ‘Daylight’. ☀️

In 2020, I spent nine months in isolation in England, out of which five were spent mostly by myself, save for the company of my pet-rabbit. Flight bans and regional restrictions resulted in solitary celebrations of Easter and Christmas, away from my family, who lived miles away from me, in Romania. I marked the completion of my undergraduate degree with a glass of wine in front of my computer’s screen, and my graduation ceremony consisted in taking a selfie wearing an academic cap I had ordered online. I held my 22nd birthday party on ZOOM and began my postgraduate degree in my bedroom.

The first months of the pandemic saw me grappling with grief, unease, and anxiety. My struggle was not with solitude, which I cherished deeply. Truthfully, I have always treasured the time spent with myself, which I often had to defend from family, friends, lovers. I love connecting with people and opening to them, but I crave quietude, I crave me, I crave meeting myself in stillness. Indeed, the first lesson isolation taught me was that I had internalised my need to be alone as something that I needed to fix. Furthermore, the need to justify my alone time to others had left me feeling inadequate. There was joy in letting that contraction go, gratitude in having endless time to spend with myself, and relief in not having to eternally explain my seclusion. In my tiny room, I explored boundless universes through my imagination, through books and poetry, I felt held by friends through the internet, and, in the depth of my aloneness, I realised how tightly connected our world is.

Nonetheless, my struggle dealt with the uncertainty of the future. I had tightly held onto the illusion of control for most of my life, and the pandemic roughly forced me to face that nothing had been in my hands all along. This realisation filled me with unspeakable dread. My mind spun restlessly, and there were many tears.

However, as time slowly unfolded, daylight shimmered through the loss, the ache, the anguish. Isolation offered me silence, tranquillity, and time: time to read, to study, to feel into myself, to observe my mind and my patterns. I learned to cradle myself, I taught myself gentleness and the importance of rest, I found the courage to ask for help when needed.

And, in the silence, the second lesson I was offered was that of trust. Isolation guided me to cultivate a heartfelt trust to the flow of life. I learned that I never had the power to obstruct, control or manipulate it. I began my days with the beautiful prayer written by Reinhold Niebuhr: ‘Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.’ And there was kindness.

This process led me to continuously unearth myself. At first, by way of tears, clumsily. And, as my fears began to soften, daringly. In the silence, my heart, jammed tight for such a long time, cracked open; it was heavy and silken, wrenching, and tender. I cried and I prayed, I wrote, and I danced. I laughed and I lit candles. I made amends and I drank. I howled and asked for forgiveness. I digested life and rested in the pause. As old wounds unravelled and mended, I felt soft and mushy, in awe with how much beauty and loss my heart could feel; all at once.

On a particularly tender night, I felt as if I finally returned to myself: as if I finally met myself for the first time. A quiver, a gentle ‘hey, that’s me’. And love, acceptance, marvel rushed through. Softness had been there, inside of me, all along: underneath the grief, underneath the relentless self-loathing, underneath the merciless depression, a sweet softness shimmered through. Life has unfolded sweetly since then; not smoothly or painlessly, but sweetly. There is an intrinsic sweetness that shines through: through the beautiful and the not so beautiful, through the silly, the mundane, the harrowing. Grace. On the very same tender night, I wrote in my journal:

‘Fears blossom into devotion in the palms of my hands. I bathe in what is. And there is only daylight.’

And I trust that there will be. As Mr. Leonard Cohen would sing, ‘There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.’

There will be kindness.

photo: mid-isolation in 2020, when my hair was wild & my mind heavy. wearing my mother’s dress. 💙

*sing-songs*: ☀️ my love was as cruel as the cities i lived in / and i’ve been sleeping for so long in a 20-year dark night / but now i see daylight, daylight, daylight ☀️🕊

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