Lisa and Nicola

Lisa and Nicola

Lisa Andrews in conversation with
Nicola Wingfield

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?
  6. 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.
  7. 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…
  8.  …while my sister learns to breathe, in the way that meditation and yoga teachers encourage. She lets go, reassesses priorities
  9. …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.
  10. 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.
  11. Sort of.
  12. I help launch a massive project about wildlife. It is another burial, but a beautiful one.
  13. 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.
  14. Maybe this time we’ll both keep breathing in the way that meditation and yoga teachers encourage.

Lisa Andrews

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