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Lockdown Letters 'If anything happens to my grandmother or my friends and family, I won't be able to say goodbye the Irish way'

'My heart is torn and my feet are still in two places' writes Laura Hennessy from Co Wexford in Independent.ie's 'Lockdown Letters' series


Laura Hennessy with her grandmother Loretta Dooley.

Laura Hennessy with her grandmother Loretta Dooley.

Laura Hennessy with her grandmother Loretta Dooley.

I'm a native of New Ross, Co. Wexford. I've been in Sydney 24 years but have travelled home every year since to visit close family and friends, sometimes twice a year.

I have found the great distance between Ireland and Sydney quite difficult over the years but never more so than now. It is surreal. Our lives are a constant whirlwind of activities with the children, school, sports, social catch-ups and life in general. It never stops. Until now.

My husband and I and our young children aged 12 and 9 are in lockdown. My career as an artist is on hold as all my upcoming markets and fairs have been cancelled. The dining table has become a table tennis venue, we've set up badminton and basketball in the back garden, a boxing area in the lounge room, scrabble in the kitchen and jigsaws in each bedroom.

So far, our children are pretty resilient. There have been on-the-spot fines of AUS $1,000 for people out walking with those not from the same household, so we take each child for a very quick daily walk, one parent and child at a time, avoiding anyone on the streets - there's usually no one.

Whilst it has been incredibly difficult, there are parts of it that have actually been good for us. We are learning to slow down, be together more without always rushing to the next activity, being more in the moment. We have no other choice. We are incredibly grateful for what we actually do have. We know it could be a lot worse.

Whilst my family and I normally keep in touch with lengthy What's app conversations, recently we have had more Facetime contact and it really has made me smile. My cousins recently accidentally drunk dialled me in on a Facetime call and I laughed for days! Underneath it all, I silently worry though that I won't get home in case of an emergency.

My grandmother Loretta Dooley (103) is in a community hospital in New Ross and we thought we might go home for her birthday in July. That's no longer an option. If anything happens to her, or indeed any one of my friends or family, I will not be able to say goodbye the Irish way. Having already received bad news over the years and made that incredibly difficult journey home, I know I will struggle with that.

All that I keep saying to myself is one day at a time and this too will pass.

My heart is torn and my feet are still in two places.

We are living history. The challenges posed by Covid 19 are similar the world over but everybody’s experience of this emergency will be different. In this special series, ‘Lockdown Letters' gives our readers at home and across the globe an opportunity to share their stories about how the Coronavirus and the measures to tackle its spread are impacting their lives in these unprecedented times.

Please email your submission (400 words max.) to stories@independent.ie along with a photograph. We will publish as many letters as possible on Independent.ie and a selection in print every week.

Online Editors