Yesterday, it was announced that Omicron is now spreading within New Zealand. We were doing such a good job of keeping Delta away. Since everything opened up (particularly for those with vaccine passes) before Christmas, case numbers have kept low, with an R value under 1. But now Omicron* is here, and everything will change. As I saw a headline this morning, New Zealanders are in for a major culture shock!
In the announcement, the Prime Minister yesterday suggested people prepare for being isolated at home, and suggested we find “buddies” who might be able to go shopping for us. It wasn’t long ago (just over a year) that we were the ones going shopping for my father-in-law, so it would require a change of focus to think of others doing things for us. We are reasonably well stocked except for perishables (I’ve written on A Separate Life about my pantry hoarding instincts), but it got me thinking. Who would be our buddies?
Initially, I thought (rather melodramatically), “we have nobody!” And I felt very alone. My friends with grown kids in the city would probably call on them, or one of their many friends they made through their kids. Their priority would be their kids, their work, and not some lonely old couple out in the suburbs. (I may be doing them a disservice, but it is how I felt.) Of course, we don’t have grown (or any) children, and neither of us have relatives in the city we could call on. Closer friends live outside the city now, so wouldn’t be able to pick up some milk on the way home. Bamberlamb’s post this week about isolating when you don’t have family also highlights the issues we face these days if we are close contacts or COVID positive, and have to stay at home for an extended period of time. As she notes, we are both lucky to have someone to isolate with. Many don’t.
Then I got thinking. I guess we would probably call on a friend who lives in the next suburb, or on one of our neighbours (and we would help them too), or my husband’s golf buddies. That’s a reasonable number of people who live relatively close, and it would be highly unlikely that we would all be isolating at the same time. Now though, as I look at our network, I know that we are not alone. And it has reminded me to reach out to some friends who are on their own, and might need help as well as being able to give it.
Support networks are there, if informally. But thinking
about this has certainly reminded me of my intentions to socialise more this
year, with the hope of having a wider group of friends in this community. It's important for me in a way it isn't so important for those who are surrounded by their children or other relatives. It won't happen unless I make the effort. And COVID-19 is making the point that it isn't something I can put off until I am older. It's important now!
* Yes, I hear your sighing and eye-rolling. I'm sorry!