Day 84 and some good news and a development that was inevitable, now that we have opened up the borders, two new cases brought in from the UK. I don’t want to write about that here. It would only whip up further agitation and the news channels are doing a good job of that, along with Todd Mueller, when actually the damage is done and I think we have learned from it. Maybe we’re even safer because the new measures in response are stringent with more checks and balances in place. The good news is that doctors in the UK have discovered that a low-cost steroid drug, dexamethasone, is helping prevent the deaths of some of the sickest coronavirus patients. The finding, was made in the ‘Recovery trial’, the biggest randomised, controlled trial of coronavirus treatments in the world and it has shown that the drug eases inflammation in the lungs and has reduced deaths among patients on ventilators by up to one-third and those on oxygen support by one-fifth. It is the one drug, at this moment, that reduces the risk of dying in the sickest patients and as such is being hailed as a breakthrough. This is really the news of the day, I think.
Increasingly in these troubled times I have found myself searching more consciously for soothing and uplifting activities that counteract the stresses. I’ve figured that if I can glide through problems and perplexities rather than get snagged on stuff then I think I will do better. My mother often talked about the Waimakariri river in Canterbury with its braided streams and tributaries seeing it as a metaphor for how to live one’s life. She used to say ‘life is like this braided river.’ She loved the big river that flowed down from the Southern Alps bringing the blue alpine waters with it. She loved its striations, the way tributaries break off again and again into streams of veins highlighted bright aqua against greywacke river stones. She would say look at the places where the water knocks up against huge trees that have hurtled downstream in storms, and see how the flotsam and jetsam collects around them. If you can imagine yourself in that moving current and see yourself flowing round the obstacle, not getting caught but staying mid-stream, gently turning and tilting and moving on through, that's the way.
I like this parable for living and have been thinking about the things that help me in the time of coronavirus to glide on through. In my day I like to make time for walking in nature and tuning in to its rhythms and beauties; meditating in the quiet of morning is a good way to begin; sharing a meal and watching a film with a friend warms the night; and then there is the joy and solace of being in the presence of a child, seeing the world through their eyes, moving at their pace which is often slow and thoughtful and attentive. My three year old grandson is the beam of lightness in the shadow of this virus.
Recently we spent part of a day together. We went to the library first in his mama’s car while my car was being fitted with a new front facing car seat. Her car is keyless. At the park I closed the car door and then my grandson touched a rubber button on the door handle and the car locked. Very satisfying. We went to the lift well. He pushed the button to open the door. Inside he pushed the next button to take us to the first floor. In the library he posted the books into the return slot. On the way out he climbed the child-size wooden steps placed beside the checking station. Very confidently he held the card with its barcode up under the laser light and then swiped the books across and we were done. Back at the car he touched the door handle and the car unlocked. I followed all of this with fascination and awe that someone so young could be this competent. When the door unlocked, I commented ‘You are magic. You push on the door handle and the car opens!’ He looked at me and considered my flattery. ‘No,’ he replied. ‘Mama would say it’s a button not magic.’ I love him.
Then we went down to the sea and he sat at a picnic table scooping out his elaborate morning tea from the compartments in his metal lunch box. We observed two seagulls in loud argumentative conversation and he commented, ‘Those seagulls are squawking.’ The language. On the swing he chortled as I pushed him higher and higher. Propelling him, I sang ‘You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey…’ The lyrics rolled out automatically, the song ringing on the air while my attention was on the giggling child and keeping him high, on this glorious bright green, bright blue day. ‘Why does the sunshine go away?’ he asked. I hadn’t thought about the lyrics as I sang, ‘… Please don’t take my sunshine away,’ How strange are grown up sentiments to a child who is paying attention and trying to make sense of it all. Again I love him and treasure these moments in the time of coronavirus.
Back at the car I had great difficulty plugging him into the car seat. His bright green raincoat was bulky. ‘Oh, darn.’ I exclaimed. ‘We’re going to have to take off your coat and start again.’ To which he sighed ‘Oh this ridiculous coat!’