It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel...

Jill Foxley is an English garden designer who lives in a rural farmhouse in southwest France that she and her husband are (slowly) restoring

21 March 2020
By Jill Foxley

For a brief moment this morning when I awoke, I didn’t remember – then that old REM song popped into my head.

Our world is in crisis.

It’s hard to believe in our quiet little corner of rural south west France what is happening around the globe, as the spring flowers burst into growth, the lambs gambol around the meadows and the birds busily build their nests.

Our world faces a pandemic on a scale none of us in living memory will have ever known.

Even the media’s Brexit word count pales into insignificance as this virus occupies almost every picture, as well as each written and spoken word.
What is good to hear is that community spirit in some areas is soaring, with singing between houses and neighbourhoods looking out for, and after, the vulnerable.

We have new vocabulary, too, like “lockdown”, “herd immunity” and “coronavirus”.

Inevitable tales abound of empty supermarket shelves, ugly fighting between shoppers, and greedy stockpiling.

Warnings from governments that we will lose loved ones before their time serve only to strike fear into the most vulnerable and already fearful.
Large businesses are starting to ask about bailouts.

National and international companies are warning of enforced and unpaid leave. Voluntary redundancies are being offered. All rather monotonously par for the course at times of impending or current financial crises.

What of the small businesses? What of the “little people”? What about you and me and our daily hopes, dreams and aspirations? How are we coping? Am I alone in feeling scared? I don’t think I can be and it doesn’t seem a rational fear either.

It washes over me like waves of grief. I’m low risk, being marginally under 60, and with no underlying health issues. So I’m lucky and healthy, too.

Despite all this, I’m scared. Not just worried, but scared. Scared not only of what might happen to people I love both near and far away, but also what is going to unfold and touch almost every person upon this Earth.

However, what about those not so lucky and at such a low risk? The sick ones expecting surgery or treatments that now will not happen, as the hospitals will be full of people fighting for their lives?

Pensioners who look certain to be isolated for many weeks?

Small businesses that were hanging on by the skin of their teeth before coronavirus became a household name?

Schoolchildren on the brink of exams that could determine the path their lives take, finding out they are postponed?

The diabetic who was standing beside the stranger who sneezed yesterday?

Those who expose themselves on a daily basis trying to help others? Mental health patients dealing with daily anxiety that to most people will seem
dramatic, but to them is very real and a terrifying burden?

There will be people trying to return to see sick relatives or friends who cannot travel through the closed borders – are they not to see loved ones?
The list is endless.

But still I am most definitely scared. Not terrified of interacting with people per se, but there is definitely a fear of the unknown, akin to the day after watching the Twin Towers crash to the ground. It feels the world around the corner is far from brave or new.

Could it be, though, that a better world will emerge after the dust settles, a kinder world more in tune with nature and less consumer-driven?
Let’s hope so. Perhaps now is the time to make that change.

Bon courage à tous. Hope to see you on the other side, wherever, whenever and however that may be.

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