Lisa Andrews in conversation with
Nicola Wingfield is a self-employed reflexologist and Thai massage therapist and a mum of two. Lisa Andrews is a freelance writer and editor. Nicola is also my much braver sister.
Sonnet with COVID
- It seems amusing sat by a pool on holiday – why are all these people buying toilet roll? Less amusing when I realise we have absolutely none left. Downright unfunny back home where all I can think about is how creaky my lungs are in the damp English weather.
- I become acutely aware of breath; not in the way that meditation and yoga teachers encourage. We are a family of underlying conditions and why have I never said anything to my Mum about how that wheeze in her voice shouldn’t be there?
- I write a ridiculous text to a friend saying that I am more scared of losing my house than I am of catching COVID and dying. She points out I wouldn’t give a rat’s arse about the house when I’m dead. I beg to differ.
- Spring is insane. I dust off the bike, discover a world alive with birdsong. It follows me down the towpath and into the park where I find people staring at a tree. There are kestrels nesting. One – the mother? – lands in front of me and I’m smitten.
- I ask my sister to be my partner in a 26 project. Her underlying condition is the complete inability to do her job. I remind myself I’m here to listen in a professional sense. So I shut my trap and let her talk. As she does, I realise I have spent a lifetime framing our relationship as an opposition. She is this, I am not. What if I change this?
- So I try. I haven’t told her this because, well, less talk, more action. Plus, talking in this family – really talking – has always been hard.
- I keep going back to the park to find my kestrel. Take photo after photo after photo. My work adapts – other people still need copy, luckily. So I bury all my anxieties under a hailstorm of other people’s words…
- …while my sister learns to breathe, in the way that meditation and yoga teachers encourage. She lets go, reassesses priorities
- …see? It’s ingrained, the need to play the opposite. Mum’s breathing improves – inhalers will do that for you – starts walking, hasn’t stopped.
- The mental wiring is tangled. It’ll be five years before I realise what all this has taught me. I’m too tired right now and I can’t hear the birdsong anymore; each government U-turn saps away the kindness. I take to shouting ‘no one likes you’ at certain ministers on the television. Until I stop watching the news.
- Sort of.
- I help launch a massive project about wildlife. It is another burial, but a beautiful one.
- I start running again, meditating again, sign up for art classes, write poetry, take my inhalers properly. My sister goes back to work, starts a new business and a new course.
- Maybe this time we’ll both keep breathing in the way that meditation and yoga teachers encourage.