This article is written for the B1-B2 level student. The hyperlinks lead to English-German translations. After clicking on the links, you can easily change the language to French or another language from within the online translator used: linguee.com.
A PERSONAL STORY DURING LOCKDOWN TIME
How are all of you doing? Are you starting to get used to the lockdown? I feel very fortunate. Losing over 80% of expected income for the year within a few days was swiftly and effectively counterbalanced by the meaningful financial support the Swiss government and banks provided. I think for the first time ever during an economic crisis, interest free loans and unemployment benefits in the form of short-time working insurance have been granted to self-employed business owners like me. So thanks to the Swiss government authorities, I am able to remain calm and focused during these uncertain times!
But I’d like to back up a little and share a personal story with you. Let me tell you how it started…
It was early March and I was feeling pretty good. I had just recovered from a month-long flu. Who knows? Maybe from “the virus” and I started feeling a natural urge to reach out to family and friends that I had lost touch with. My best friend from home, Ellen, had been on my mind recently. The last we spoke was about 13 years ago.
This crisis woke me up by perhaps instilling fear of an unknown future. The thought of loved ones coming down with the virus was working away at me. So I began reaching out and in a way that felt easy and natural. Ellen’s birthday was in March and so I sent a happy birthday message to her.
I was so delighted to receive a response. We started sending simple texts back and forth. Being a bit nervous about talking over the phone, I had asked her in my first message if it would be okay if we kept to writing first. Her answer to me? “Time is on our side.”
Then Easter time came. I had hesitated to respond to her last message as it had innocently stirred up some painful times that she wasn’t aware of. I got stuck. I wanted to explain why it took me so long to answer without going into too much detail. On Good Friday, I finally sent a vague message to her. I thought to myself how silly it was that I hadn’t called her yet. I agreed to myself that it exactly what I needed to do upon receiving her next reply.
And then it happened.
Being connected to her niece via facebook, I received an announcement that Ellen had gotten into a serious car accident with a friend on Friday and had been rushed to the hospital with multiple broken bones. Ellen had been driving.
In a split second, not only had Ellen’s life changed, it seemed mine had, too. No longer was I basking in the warm feelings of having gotten back in touch or the feeling of relief or the grateful feeling that I would not be experiencing financial distress any time soon. All of that went out the window and meant absolutely nothing.
Instead feelings of fear, guilt and regret consumed me. Why hadn’t I just called Ellen from the start? Why did I take so long to get back in touch with her in the first place? So much time wasted.
Ellen was brought to a reputable hospital in Boston and I even managed to get through to speaking to her nurse. I’m not even sure she found out about that. I didn’t feel I had the right to suddenly get all involved. She had a life that I wasn’t a part of any more and wanted to respect that.
I found out she was in great pain. Nothing more. Later, I wrote to her niece who explained that her mom and Ellen’s older sister had created a facebook group to communicate with friends and family about how things were proceeding. Pam accepted me into the group quickly and so felt grateful.
In the next few days, I was to learn that Ellen had a broken, dislocated neck. She decided to risk an operation. She made the right decision. Afterwards, she could feel her hands and feet again. And by the way, more good news: she had tested negative for COVID-19. Then, a double surgery came next. Two surgical teams worked at the same time: one to put in a metal plate by her broken cervical bone (collarbone) and the other to place another metal plate to stabilize her broken wrist.
I had no idea if more surgeries awaited her. Thankfully, the medical team had finally found the right way to relieve her pain. I can’t imagine what she must have gone through for nearly a week without proper pain relief. It was an Easter story that seemed very close to the original one.
In the meantime, I continued to write short questions to Ellen’s niece and sister via facebook. I was excited to find out about a blog Ellen and Pam started in early 2019. It is dedicated to telling memorable stories of their past to honor their family history. It brings to life those family members and good friends they miss who have sadly passed away. At the same time, it is a gift for future generations who may be curious to learn more about their ancestors. It’s a family record created in a personal, unique way.
Both of them are great storytellers. It is something in their blood. Ellen has always liked to read and keep a diary. And I can remember Pam telling some really hysterical stories after coming home from work. I can’t tell you how reading their newsletter and watching their videos caused many sentimental tears to fall. I laughed out loud reminiscing over the childhood stories they shared. Most of the stories were new to me but I could vividly imagine them playing out in my mind since I not only knew the people and places so well but also because I, too, hold them so dear.
The feeling of relief for Ellen would be finally come when she had the courage to share a smiling face of herself in her neck brace. Phew! There she was. She was alive and somehow she looked so calm. The expression she conveyed to the nearly 200 people worried about her was: I got this! That was the first night that I could finally sleep.
After the two surgeries, things began to move quickly. Within about 2 days or so, she could stand up and the decision to transport her to a rehabilitation clinic was made. She was on her way. She had passed the first painful stage and now she was going to the next. It’s certainly not over yet. Not by far. It’s just the beginning. But I do hope to be back in her life in a big way now so I can accompany and support her along the way.
In honor of Ellen and her family, I would like to share the” Leaving a Life Legacy” blog with you. I find it very relevant in these times. Not all of us may be lucky enough to survive this pandemic unscathed. Writing or sharing our stories may be the key to helping us through any losses we may experience now or in the future. I hope you may be inspired by their stories to do your own thing. Warning: it could awaken strong feelings in you!
Finally, I have to say Ellen has always been able to bring out the sentimental side in me. I miss that very much. I haven’t found many people like that lately. With so many shared childhood experiences, she can do it the best! So in honor of her poetic sentimentality, and my hidden one, I’d like to leave you with this important message that she gave to me as a gift many moons ago. I still have it today and it remains in my living room to this day. It’s the picture of the cushion you see at the top of this post. “A friend is a gift you give yourself”. As I now look forward to renewing my friendship with Ellen, a woman that helped shaped me as a person, I hope you can learn from my mistakes. Give yourself the gift of friendship. And remember everyone: Time may not always be on our side. So, let’s make the most of it.
For those who may have been inspired to write their own personal lockdown story or reminiscent story of days gone by, I would be so pleased to read them.
Writing about emotions taps into a completely different writing style from business letters. But it is when we share emotions in another language that the language truly becomes our own. That I know from my own experience.
I’ve got to go now. It’s time for me to call Ellen! Wishing you all well. Keep safe, strong and hope if there’s a story in you, you find time to write it!