7 Memories of Lockdown, Phase 1

After nearly 10 weeks of lockdown, we are nearly at the end of Phase 1. Tomorrow Phase 2 begins here in Italy. The entire country is ready to have a little more freedom, putting the worst behind us and moving forward. You can read about what Phase 2 will look like in my previous post. As we enter into the new phase, here’s what I’ll remember:


The sound of a wailing ambulance – morning, noon and night – was unnerving. It became my ritual to stop and say a quick prayer for whomever was inside.


Like any other mother, I want my family to eat well. I want them to enjoy the food I prepare and I want them to have good memories of our family culinary traditions. During lockdown, partly out of necessity and partly out of a desire to bring comfort to my family, I’ve cooked more than ever. I’ve made our favorite dishes, tried new recipes, made brunch a regular event and baked more than I should have. As I tried to give my family some sense of the norm, mealtimes became eventful. Instead of sharing only dinner together, we often sat down at the table two or three times a day.  


Since the beginning of the virus outbreak, the Protezione Civile (Italian Civil Protection) has held a national press conference every evening at 6 p.m. We gathered around the TV and waited with dread to see the daily statistics. Are the number of new cases climbing or declining? How many are in intensive care? How many have recovered? And of course, the biggest question, how many died today?


Up until March 15, less than 200 people died daily in Italy from the virus. Then the number jumped to 368. On that day I realized the pandemic was going to get much worse before it got better. It was a sad day. I grieved for the 368 families who had lost a mother, father, husband or wife.


On March 27 the daily death toll jumped from around 700 to 929. It was the deadliest day of the pandemic. As the grim news was announced that evening, shock and grief rippled through the country. There was a sense of disbelief. We had been told that this virus only affected the elderly and those with weak immune systems. That day I remember grappling with the new reality that there was a high probability that I may get sick or, worse, lose someone I love. 


Every evening at 8 p.m. my family joins our church’s Facebook live feed for the reading of a Psalm and prayer for the sick and those on the frontlines of the pandemic. The Psalms are an incredible comfort in uncertain times.


My family often jokes that our dog (Nacho) has an identity crisis. He’s a French bulldog, with a Mexican name, living in Italy, with an American family. He’s complicated to say the least. During lockdown our little pup has become a constant source of joy and companionship. He spends his days roaming from room to room, checking up on us and bringing us much needed comic relief.

I know that the end of Phase 1 and the decline in numbers is no guarantee that all will be well, but I’m  hoping and praying that better days lie ahead.

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