Letters From Lockdown 50: Mary Morris

To those who need more than a rainbow…

During my daily walk, I pass the rainbows. Like the Walk of Fame, they pave my journey, guiding me through my tour of my village. Some have appeared overnight, diverting me off course as I delve further down the street. Some households have taken additional, creative measures: chalking brick walls with splashes of colour, embroidery hanging on bunting. Erasable glass-stained window designs have emerged. Each walk is gifted with glimpses of courage. Under the rainbows, we stand in unity and solidarity. Under the rainbows, we are not alone.

But whilst I appreciate the symbolism, I cannot ignore that the optimism does not always ring true. For some little girls, rainbows merited between the ages of five and seven, before their innocence matures and their badges are picked off of their bibs. Despite what our storybooks tell us, pots of gold are not waiting at the rainbow’s end, even though we would love to see them. Rainbows only appear for a few seconds; we wish they could linger for longer. And the rainbows eventually fade.

We now enter our eighth week of lockdown, and in these eight weeks, I cannot help but notice that for many, rainbows have not been enough. Whilst the rainbows bind us together with the hope that this will soon be over, thousands of faces have slipped from its light. Faces, who are struggling in capacities beyond my grasp, will resume to living their normal.

Some houses have not been painted brightly- and I understand why. Like photographs, the rainbows act only as reminders that they are not tangled in the same web of aspiration and courage we possess. Rainbows can be beautiful, but for others, they are only drawings pinned to windows with Sellotape, fraying at the edges. And when the rainbows eventually fade- what happens?

Eight weeks have passed, and I have chosen not to hang a crochet rainbow above my window. Instead I have written this. For those who need more than rainbows:

For those living alone. For those who can only go as far as their doorstop. For those who have lost structure and cannot sleep. This is for those who are living alone and who hate the phone. Those who depend on human touch to be happy. This is for those who are alone. Those who have been buried alone. Who are scared of being alone. This is for you: the people who are most safe when they are alone. For those who sleep alone in their bed. But also, for those who do not have a bed. For someone without a roof over their head.

This is for you, for choosing either healthy food or hot water. Those who wish they could afford both. For those who are going without. For those whose bedroom is another person’s living room. This is for those who have saved, penny by penny, but now have to spend. But for those who do not have enough for the week- who are choosing between hot water and their home.

For you- you who can only see fragments of our faces. As you battle to remember our names and what happened last week. To those whose hands are shaking. This is for those who are doing their best to put family first.

For you and your brain. For students who have lost their teenage years. For employees who have lost a year. Who cannot do the work their job demands, and for those who demand a job.

This is for you- confined in a six by eight. Who has not received a letter nor visit and can only see colours greying through gated windows. This is for those who are travelling. Who continue to walk. Who are running, because where else can they go? For those who are hiding. For those who are trying and for children who are crying. For children who are wiping their tears on mud-stained t-shirts. This is for our children who are doing their best to process it all. But this is for our children who still need their lunch.

To key workers, labelled our heroes. For you- who haven’t been able to wear your capes. For you, because you should be wearing your capes. This is for those who have not slept, functioning off coffee and a round of applause.

To those who have been pleading for help, those who are waiting for help, and those who will need help. For those who haven’t brushed their hair. Hiding under unwashed sheets.

For those who cannot clap anymore…

I imagine that there are people I have not been able to reach. I’m unsure whether these people will have the opportunity to read this. But for those of you who are reading, let them know. They are not alone. They matter. Some people need more than the rainbows…

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