The sun is setting on the first quarter of 2021. More deaths, more load shedding, and depending on which part of South Africa you reside in, water shedding. The much-anticipated COVID-19 vaccine roll-out got off to a spluttering start mid-February; with all the virus mutations and a third wave approaching, population immunity is as far off as a cancer cure.

There are so many days when I feel that I have ‘long COVID’, even though I have not tested positive for the virus or had any reason to test. For a while last year, I had convinced myself that I – and my immediate family – most probably had contracted the virus as prevalence heightened but were asymptomatic and not aware. I even took the antibodies test as soon as it became available. Negative.

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year in 2020 was ‘pandemic’. My guess is that ‘resilience’ is going to top the charts in 2021. Heaven knows, we need bucket loads of it. For me, each day is a test in resilience. From the moment I wake up, as I lay in bed willing the strength to take on the new day with renewed energy. Always in hope. Always conscious that the new day is indeed a blessing. It was not guaranteed; “As I lay me down to sleep; I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I die before I wake; I pray the Lord my soul to take”.

Aunty D did not wake up. She went to bed on Friday, 8 January after a quiet evening with family. Nothing out of the ordinary. When we got the call at around 03:00 on Saturday morning, she was gone. No time for goodbye, last words, or reminiscing. Gone. Just. Like. That. My 7-year-old summed it up perfectly when he asked how old Aunty D was, both boys have been fascinated by her death and still talk about their ‘Little Granny’ as she called herself. When I told him that she was 64 years old, the disbelief belied his young years, “That’s not old!”. Perhaps his spirit knows that his own parents are years ahead of his peers’ parents which has shifted his concept of age. Heck, when I was 20, even 40 was old. “64 is not old! Old is Nelson Mandela is old!”.

Yes, my baby. She was not old. In age or spirit. Even though she was the second youngest and smallest of her siblings, she was a force so large and omnipresent. It’s been a mere 11 or so years since I married into the family, yet a day has not passed when her spirit is not with me. I’ve had at least three vivid dreams. My heart is constantly with her husband, children, siblings, and many nieces and nephews, those who have known her and lived with her for so much longer. The tragedy is compounded by the void she’s left in the broader South African society.

There are so many conversations that we must now commune in the spiritual realm; she’s been added to my cohort of Wise Women in the Afterlife. One conversation that comes to mind is the one about the Big M. That feminine lifecycle that leads us into adulthood and wisdom on a good day. And can leave one with an out-of-body experience on a bad day. Aunty D, with all her elegance, grace and beauty, looked like she had that waxed, along with everything else in her life.

In October, I made a promise that I would heal myself. The exhaustion and headaches had captured me – and my budget – for the better part of 2020. From doctors to specialists to naturopaths and back, I was finally able to accept that my condition – brought on by the Big M and exacerbated by COVID lockdown – originated in my subconscious, as many physical illnesses and diseases do.

According to Carolyn Myss in Anatomy of the Spirit – The Seven Stages of Power and Healing, “We are simultaneously matter and spirit. In order to understand ourselves and be healthy in both body and spirit, we have to understand how matter and spirit interact, what draws the spirit or life force out of our bodies, and how we can retrieve our spirits from the false gods of fear, anger, and attachments to the past”.  This reminds me that I had mentioned this book to Aunty D once, even sent her an image of the cover, recommending that she buy and read it. I don’t know if she did.

Today’s one of those days when I feel that I need to reach out. Thankfully, Mr T and the boys have gone out on an adventure. I was happy to pack some snacks and kiss them goodbye. The silence is most welcome.  It’s been seven months since my last post; seven months of taking one day at a time. And five months of no medication.

Am I free of the exhaustion and headaches? No. I have good days and not so good days. Will I never take medication again? No. I am not anti-modern medicine. It definitely has its place in our society, especially during this pandemic.

All that has changed is that I have committed to building my resilience, one day at a time, on my terms. With a keen sense of self that incorporates the body, mind and soul. It means removing that which does not serve and truly living in the present. One day at a time. Cause all we have is today; all that matters is today.

My wish for you and yours is an abundance of resilience.