Shielding life …
I am still pulling together my “portable shield”. Waiting for the most expensive bit to arrive. The bit that will allow me to be amongst you again! 🙂 More eager by the day in anticipation. Eager to test how it all goes together.
Whether it comes close to my imagined freedoms. Allows me to be me for as long as it takes for all of this to be a distant memory. One of those family dinner-table reminisces …
“Remember the virus of 2020 … ?”
I think I might remember this.
An unexpected and unplanned trial run. Still without the final piece of my outfit. But too good an invitation to refuse …
“Today I don’t care if the neighbours have a bbq party. Don’t care whether people are all social distancing correctly. Don’t care if we are shielding until the end of June or December. Today I don’t care because I am shielding AND part of the human race again.
Dogwalks help. The exercise bike helps. Working from home helps. Being positive helps. Shielding helps. Everything in my routine and smallish bubble helps. But today I am shielding AND a very happy granddad!
Today I played with one of our grandchildren.
Was invited to give him a cuddle. Did normal everyday stuff I haven’t done for nine weeks. I touched someone. I held fingers with someone. I hugged two people – our grandson and our daughter. I am shielding and shielded AND a granddad floating (still) on cloud nine AND I became me (again).
It was the (now usual) weekly-socially-distanced-driveway-visit. Daughter and grandson. Getting better at curbing the urge to cuddle and touch. Shepherding a two-year old while keeping six-feet between us takes a lot of fast foot-work and persuasive manoeuvring!
“Tell Paul to put on his PPE and give Oliver a cuddle”, said our son-in-law to our daughter over the phone. “Put on your PPE and give him a cuddle”, said our daughter with a big smile.
In less than than three months we have trained most of the next generation to avoid coming close to anyone outside their own circle. Now add to that this “anyone” looking like a very big ninja dressed all in white. And then tell this wary two-year old that it’s okay … that’s granddad – go and see granddad!
I was happy to let HIM decide it really was okay – that I really was granddad – and waited for him to get closer bit by bit.
It didn’t take long for me to be his shadow again. That half-look over the shoulder, that “Come o Gadtad” in his sweet voice, as off we went for another adventure no more than 30 feet from the front door. A little stone, a blade of grass, a buttercup, avoiding the dried cat poo in the flower bed from a neighbour’s cat, a “wow” of wonder here , and an “ooh” of delight there. A lift up to see over a fence … a shoulder ride with a “giddy up” … playing cars again … a finger pulled through a hole in the fence …
And that gorgeous uninhibited innocent laughter again.
And come time to say goodbye … the bestest-longest-heart-soul-wrenching-connecting hug ever! A hug that went on and on and on and … That has stayed with me since. A hug unlike any other before. A hug without words of explanation or statement. A hug that was WAY beyond words. This two year old teaching me about love – just without needing even one word to tell me how much. A connection that still won’t let go. That is still running a beautiful “loop” over and over deep inside my heart and head.
I am shielding. I broke no rules. I stripped and showered and changed afterwards. We were all aware throughout – my wife, our daughter, and me. We were all sensible and I shielded me just as they shielded me. Because we all want me to be me for a long time yet. And today I took my shield with me. A shield not of bricks and mortar because my heart is not made of stone. I took my shield with me … me, my shield and this little chap who calls me Gadtad … we shared the same space without rules or tape measures or worry or fear. A space filled with fun and love again.
I belong again. I am me again. And I remain shielded.