Home alone – a pandemic diary (day twenty-two – 01.04.20)

First of April. April fool’s day. We are all fools this year, only this is not a lie, it’s true: we are in the middle of a pandemic, and God knows when it will end.


Yesterday and today I stayed indoors. The weather helped. We had rain and cold – temperatures dropped by quite a few degrees! The sea looked like lead, reflecting the dark clouds above. The rain hit the windows hard, and I concentrated on my work.


I now begin the day with some exercise for my neck and shoulders, and I feel it’s doing me the world of good. Otherwise it would be unbearable – sitting in front of a laptop all day is not the best position, especially if you have been fighting neck  and shoulder pain for a long time.


Yesterday evening I had my son Pedro over for dinner, and we cooked some pasta together. After dinner we sat on the sofa and suddenly, he was laying his head on my lap. I know he misses the closeness; after all I have always been a hands-on Mom, and while Afonso is aloof, more reserved, Pedro is warm and affectionate and shows it – I usually get a lot of bear hugs. Since this all started, I have avoided his hugs, and he has said we must “hug from afar” – keep a distance while pretending to be hugging, opening our arms as if we were actually doing it. I have laughed and imitated him.  However, yesterday when he put his head on my lap, I let him be, and stroked his hair; we stayed like that for a long time, enjoying a mother-son moment that filled our hearts. We humans need to be close to those we love, to feel them, to touch them and hug them and kiss them, and we are missing all these things. In addition  to all the others.


Afonso came tonight. My sons take turns so that I may have company more often. Afonso is not the hugging type, but he says it all with his beautiful, light blue eyes. He and his brother have completely different personalities, but I have no doubt they both love me very much – but one shows it clearly and the other, very rarely. Still,  when I look at Afonso’s eyes it’s there; sometimes it’s in a mere word he says, or a simple comment. He was so worried when I was in Lisbon by myself, insisting every day that I should come here to be near them.


He has been through such a hard time these last months that it just makes me  happy to look at him and see he has recovered.


Ilda, my stepmother, calls after dinner, and I suggest we do a WhatsApp videocall. She is overjoyed to see us and particularly Afonso! When we hang up, he comments she is looking older and I agree. Ilda has always been an energetic, bright woman; after Dad passed away, she made a great effort to go on with her life without sinking into depression. She made it and I admire her for that, for they were very happy together and I know she sorely misses him. She’s now 71, and I remarked to Afonso that, if Dad were alive, he would be ninety this year. It has been fifteen years since he left us, and I still miss him every day of my life. Remembering our loved ones who are no longer with us, I told Afonso about Granddad, whom he remembers well, saying I believe he was the one person who loved me the most in my whole life. My dear grandfather, with whom I had so many quarrels during my teens, but who was probably the most important influence in my life and the person who gave me the best advice of all: “Study, so that you may be independent”. My grandfather who was so proud of me, to his last day.


Afonso takes his leave “Sorry, Mom, I still have to go and study tonight”. I close the door and ask my dear ones who are in another dimension to look down on us and protect us in this difficult moment, especially these boys with their whole life ahead of them. May this time of darkness pass, and may they pursue their lives, their careers, their dreams, their loves.


Today, I’m grateful that we are all healthy, and pray that tomorrow we stay the same. As for the rest, a loving look or a head on my lap, and I am contented.

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