As we approach the end of 2020, I can’t help thinking back to where we were this time last year. It was a very different world, for one thing.
The end of 2019 was, for me, a time of worry. My dad was in hospital for the second time, with a chest infection, and unbeknown to me then, he would never come back out.
He died on New Year’s Eve; I was by his side, talking to him, telling him how much I loved him. I am now convinced that he died of COVID, after picking it up the first time he was admitted into the hospital at the end of November. I don’t lay any blame at the door of the hospital or the ward he was on – Ward 44, the male respiratory ward. The NHS staff were absolutely excellent; they went well above and beyond the call of duty to try and get my dad to turn the corner, but the lung infection couldn’t be stopped, sepsis set in and along with it, organ failure.
Dealing with bereavement has quite possibly been the hardest thing I have ever had to overcome – and a year on, I’m still dealing with it daily. I lost Dad before coronavirus had reached the UK, before goodbyes involved social distancing, video calls and the added worries of a global pandemic. Grief is an unpredictable thing and even more so when the rest of the world also feels so unpredictable. I’ve often thought about how other people are dealing with bereavement at this time, especially those who have lost loved ones in the midst of the pandemic. At least I got the chance to say goodbye to my dad and was able to kiss him. How difficult it must be for those family members who can’t do this and have to say the most difficult of goodbyes via a smart phone or tablet.
The joy of new life
While still in the throes of grief, a ray of sunshine appeared on February 5th, when my first grandchild, Jessie was born. I was surviving on autopilot, but as I held her tiny little body, I was filled with waves of pure love and joy.
She is now 10 months old and although my dad never got to meet his first great-grandchild, I see him in Jessie and that gives our family much comfort.
Shortly after one life came to an end and one began in the Booth family, the onset of the COVID pandemic turned everyone’s lives upside down, changing not only how we live and work, but how we behave and think.
I can’t help stop and think about what I once took for granted – the simple act of hugging a friend, nipping into the city to do a bit of shopping and having a coffee and cake, being able to book a last-minute trip to the countryside, or even a short break overseas, popping to the pub for a drink and natter with the locals…every aspect of our lives has been affected for most of this year.
Reflecting back over 2020
It’s only now as we reach the end of 2020 that I see how we’ve all had to make so many changes, big and small, to our everyday lives. I feel, more than ever, that life is so very precious. We should be grateful for what we have.
This year has also been a reminder to appreciate the smaller things in life – the things we often take for granted. With so many deaths each day, I am grateful for my family and friends, even if it means video calls and text messages while we cannot see each other in person.
With so many people falling ill, I am grateful for my health. With so many people losing jobs and becoming homeless, I am grateful for the food in my fridge and a place to call home.
I have to be honest though – my feet have hardly touched the ground since the first lockdown back in March. Running a busy natural health clinic, as well as my Just For Tummies business didn’t give me much chance to think about the implications of COVID; being busy stopped me thinking about my dad too much.
Looking forward to 2021 – and beyond
While many won’t feel sad bidding farewell to 2020, the inner optimist in me will always look to the positives. Lockdown brought about a set of life lessons that we weren’t prepared for. But as the year rolled on, we started to adapt. In fact, in the absence of hectic commutes, we became accustomed to having a bit (not much in my case, but a bit nonetheless…) more time on our hands. Working flexibly allowed us a little more freedom.
And, if the number of orders and enquiries that I have had to field at Just For Tummies is anything to go by, we have all had more time to think about our wellbeing and how best to tend to ourselves when facing so much uncertainty.
More and more people are making the connection between a healthy gut and a well functioning and resilient immune system. Around 70 – 80% of our immune system is located in our gut, so we neglect gut health at our peril.
As maintaining good physical and mental health has come to the forefront during these uncertain months, we have been shipping our best-sellers like there’s no tomorrow – Live Bacteria probiotics, For Women probiotics, Digestive Enzymes, Charcoal, Omega 3s and Garlic supplements. Our supplements do not only support digestive and gut health, but immune and cognitive health too. It’s no wonder they’re in such demand.
Another positive thing to come out of the lockdowns for me, when I wasn’t able to meet friends, or attend face-to-face business meetings, was getting out in my garden – something I’ve never had the time to do before, and into the kitchen – to bake! My husband, Kevin was very bemused watching me sorting out cobweb-ridden baking tins, mixing bowls and the rolling pin. The look on his face! However, he does love my cakes and he’s even taken to making bread, not in a bread maker I might add, but mixing it in a bowl, the old-fashioned way.
Stepping off the treadmill and rediscovering ‘free time’ is something we’ll forever be thankful for. Even if a baking renaissance isn’t really your thing, suddenly having the opportunity to discover new pastimes has felt like a luxury. From online pottery classes to live bake-alongs or wine tastings to virtual gallery tours, we have had the chance to allow our inner culture-vulture to run wild, revelling in the variety of hobbies we’ve been able to explore now we’ve had more time to do so. Long may it continue.