I took up an initiative that has gone viral across the hospitals in Spain at the beginning of the pandemic; I collected letters from friends, coworkers and relatives to send to people in hospitals who were in complete isolation. The idea was for people to send messages of hope and encouragement, but also to share stories so the patients had someone to relate to, to read a story from someone they could identify as unique and help them with the loneliness of distance. Lots of people responded, but one of the best writers I have ever known is my cousin. It took her a while to put her thoughts onto paper. This is her story, all the way from Madrid:
My living situation was already a bit strange before all the Covid-19 craziness happened. My husband and I got married 2 years ago but have yet to live together because I had to move to Barcelona for work. Because it was a temporary situation and our end goal was settling down in Madrid, we just decided to go back and forth for the time being until we could reunite in Madrid.
With the impending threat of a lockdown we wanted to meet before it happened because if we knew one thing was that we wanted spend quarantine together but didn’t know where, because we both share our apartments with other people. We finally decided I would go to Madrid because, though he shares with 3 other men (one of which is my brother in law), it’s a big apartment with a big balcony. One other roommate also brought in his girlfriend so we’ve been 6 people living together. It has been chaotic but also better than I expected.
I’ve learned to share a bathroom with my husband and my brother in law, and the kitchen with 5 other people, and trust me when I say it’s less than ideal.
We’ve also made plans together; we played "Settlers of Catan" while we drank in the balcony, we’ve watched "Tiger King" together and shared Rona memes. We even had a barbecue one day; we accidentally set a tiny fire on one sofa (it was windy) and one of the neighbours complained because all the smoke went into her house, so I consider it a success.
All in all, I’ve been very lucky during this quarantine; I’ve spent time with friends and family when many people have been isolated. I have been very secure in my job as a government employee while unemployment is in record numbers. My 94 year old grandmother is doing well when so many people have had to say goodbye to their loved ones.
My first attempt at writing about the quarantine was very bleak. Madrid, as I often joke to my husband, the love of my life, has been devastated by this pandemic. I’ve tried to reflect on it and have found I have many things to be thankful for and now that Madrid and it’s citizens are doing better I’m hopeful for the future.