Disclosure: My summer in lockdown post contains gifted items from Lighthouse Clothing. A big thanks to the lovely folk at Lighthouse Clothing for the boys fabulous shirts and my beautiful dress and bag.
This is not the post I’d planned to write.
Initially when Lighthouse Clothing got in touch, to ask if we’d like to share some of their beautiful clothing again, I had plans of writing about summer picnics… long walks in the meadow.
The last time I featured Lighthouse on the blog, it was spring 2016.
We’d been up to Yorkshire to visit Richard’s brother and his family for Easter; had the most idyllic time.
We’d played on windswept beaches, eating salty chips straight from the packet.
Walked for hours, over the Yorkshire dales.
In my mind’s eye, I’d envisaged the same kind of post.
Happy family photos, only this time with an added helping on sunshine. Packing the little candy-striped, canvas bag with treats and refreshments for our adventures.
But life has thrown so many curveballs this year. Sometimes things just don’t turn out the way you plan.
Summer in Lockdown
This has been such an odd summer.
Living in a lockdown situation isn’t something we’ve ever had to deal with before. But, then, we’ve never lived through a pandemic before either.
The boys and I have spent the last couple of months in a crazy bubble.
Self isolating — at home — whilst the weather has been so blissful may be tricky for those who live in a city high rise. Or with no garden or outside space readily available.
But for us, surrounded by open fields and countryside — and also a private garden — the beginning of the lockdown was quite an amazing experience.
Until Richard’s mum was taken to hospital.
Barbara fell ill at the end of April. Rushed to hospital in an ambulance, with blue lights flashing, and neither her husband of 68 years — or any of her three children — were allowed to go with her.
We couldn’t speak face to face with doctors.
Weren’t allowed to visit. Couldn’t sit by her bedside; hold her hand.
We were totally unable to support her.
It transpired that my mother-in-law had an incredibly rare, very serious blood disease called Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura — or TTP for short.
The events that unfolded over the next few weeks were nothing short of a living nightmare. I won’t share them all but — suffice to say — helplessly watching a loved one decline on FaceTime is heartbreaking. Something I wouldn’t wish any fellow human to have to endure.
Barbara passed away on 26th June 2020.
9 weeks after the day that she was first taken to hospital.
The Days That Followed
The days that followed were so hard.
A funeral in lockdown; just 12 family members allowed to say goodbye. Not able to hug — or comfort — each other.
What would have been Barbara’s birthday, three weeks to the day, after she’d passed away.
Then my father-in-law’s 90th birthday five weeks after that.
An amazing milestone. And a celebration — that we’d been planning for months before the pandemic — changed by circumstances. Overshadowed by loss and grief.
At that point, we were allowed to celebrate outside (to be honest, even if we weren’t, we would have broken all the rules just to be with Richard’s dad).
So celebrate we did.
Our family came together from all corners of the UK, to celebrate our patriarch turning 90.
All the generations. From the eldest to the very youngest; including Freddie — Colin and Barbara’s first great grandchild — who was born in March, just before the lockdown began.
So, whilst this post isn’t quite what I had in mind, it’s a brilliant reminder of our summer in lockdown.
The strangest year that I’ve ever experienced.
These images remind me how much I love my family. How strong we all are, even when circumstances pull us apart.
They make me smile, because — even though we were missing one of the most important members of our clan — my mother-in-law would have loved this.
Having her family around her was one of her life’s greatest loves.