It seems impossible, but it’s been two years since I stepped on Lisbon airport and boarded a plane. In August 2019 I travelled to Madeira, as I’m doing now, and little did I know what would be hitting us in a few months’ time.
Looking back, these two years have brought many changes to my life, and I’m not just talking about lockdowns, social distancing, wearing masks and feeling there’s a threat hanging over our heads all the time. I have seen real change in my life these past two years, and some of it definitely for the better, meaning that life moves on even when there’s a pandemic raging.
The first major change was the end of my relationship with Nuno. Together for more than ten years, we could not make each other happy, even if we still loved each other. We have done our best to remain on friendly terms and we know there is no future for us. Even so, sometimes it’s hard to look back to how perfect it was for a while, how good we were together, how many happy moments we shared, the strong conviction that this time it would last, and once more must admit defeat. Still, the good times will always be with us, and I believe I have a special place in his heart, as he has in mine.
Then the first lockdown saw the end of a way of life. As soon as it came into force I sent the boys to their dad, who lives in a house near the sea with a huge garden and swimming pool, where they would not feel imprisoned. As soon as I could I also moved to my beach apartment nearby and the boys came for dinner a few times a week so we were together quite often. I truly enjoyed those months of quietness, of long walks by the sea, of introspection and slowing down. I worked long hours on my book with my editor and learned to live by myself – something I had only experienced briefly.
Then, by the end of summer, Afonso launched his agricultural project and asked if he could come and live in my beach apartment. His girlfriend would be in and out and I had decided on moving house in Lisbon, so in September I had to leave my safe haven and prepare the move. My son Pedro came back to Lisbon with me to help, and eventually got his first job – a true miracle in the midst of a pandemic-ridden January. Afonso has his room, just like before, in the new apartment, but his life is now near his work and he will only come back occasionally, although he tells me he will be dropping by more often when night life comes back and he can go out with his friends to a disco once again.
Ant then, last but definitely not least, I published my book, Love Secrets Lies, after six long years of hard work, but also wonderful creative moments, because writing has become a passion and I’m never happier than when I’m writing.
To those people who say they have lost a year and a half of their lives, I’m glad to say I haven’t! I have adapted, learned to live differently, in a much simpler way, my priorities have changed and I believe I have been learning a few precious lessons during these two years. Becoming wiser, I hope.
A few days ago I was talking to my son Afonso, at home, and his words showed me how much our lives have changed. He looked a bit sad, as he said: “Mom, have you noticed that Pedro and I are now rarely together? I have my work here, he has his in Lisbon, we have little free time. To think we saw each other every day, did lots of things together with the rugby and all… I miss him”.
I took in the full impact of his words and blamed myself for not making a bigger effort to bring these two together. They are brothers, with a strong bond, I have no doubt, but I, as a mother, must find more occasions for us all to get together as a family and for them to be together as brothers, because they truly miss each other. A sign of the change that has impacted our lives but, in this case, nothing that can’t be mended. The time when the three of us lived together is over, I know, and the precious moments when I watched them both from the window walking down the street towards the rugby club, engrossed in conversation with each other, and felt such happiness in seeing them together, will not be repeated, but others will come, and we’ll make new great memories. When you love each other, you always do.