19 December, Worcestershire, UK

By Rachel Smyth

I cried tonight for the first time in a long time. My brother travelled back from London with his husband, earlier today, for Christmas. We have hardly seen him this year and the whole family was looking forward to (safely) spending time with him. However just as he arrived, the announcement was made that London was being placed under Tier 4 restrictions. After an hour-long discussion, not even leaving their car, my brother and his husband decided to turn around and return to London. I was oblivious to all of this and found out from a brutally succinct message in our family WhatsApp group: “He’s gone back home”.

Like many others, I had got carried away with the idea that we could have some sort of normality for just a few days. After deliberately keeping my head down and carrying on (very British) for months, following the rules and staying safe, I’d allowed myself to get excited and hope a little. The comedown was hard and unexpected.

As I cried in our lounge, my 3 year old daughter put her arms around my neck and asked what the matter was. I explained that my brother, her uncle, wouldn’t be home for Christmas after all. I said I missed him and felt very sad. “Oh I know. But you’ll see him soon Mummy, when the germs have gone. We can have Christmas then.” And she was right. Sometimes it takes the pragmatic words of a child to re-gain perspective. A hug, from those few who are still allowed to, also works wonders.