Today was my first day in the office (since having started my job in September!) and I decided to take the scenic route. Along the way, I spent a peaceful quarter-hour walking alongside the National Covid Memorial Wall on the south bank of the Thames near Lambeth.
It is beautifully simple – a wall running alongside the river painted with thousands of hearts, some with the names of people who died with Covid handwritten on them. The hearts are all different sizes and shapes, somehow capturing the fact that this horrible disease took people – individuals with families, friends and lives – of all ages and backgrounds.
The memorial is a kilometre long and as I reached its final few metres I passed a young woman with a sharpie. She was rewriting over the top of a name that had been faded by the elements. It stopped me in my tracks, and I was reminded that although we are ‘learning to live’ with Covid, and for many of us life feels fairly normal again, deep grief is still relatively fresh for so many.
The memorial also feels somehow unfinished, with room for more names, more hearts. It reminded me that although it no longer makes headlines, Covid is still very much affecting our lives. Like it or not, Covid is still circulating, and is still fatal or life changing for some. Thousands of people in the UK are still living with the debilitating after-effects of the disease.
The woman with her sharpie is a reminder not to forget the cost of the pandemic, or take for granted the freedoms many of us are able to enjoy again. It reminded me to love deeply, forgive quickly and be thankful for life, whatever challenges it throws at us.