What I Have learned about myself, my family, my community and my faith during lockdown – By Una McCrory

Friday the 13th can often be considered to be an unlucky day. As a Year 8 student at Loreto, Friday 13th March 2020 was to be the last time I sat in a classroom situation, laughed and walked with my friends down the school corridors, ate my lunch in the canteen and travelled home on Ulster bus. As my school principal rightly said ‘these really are unprecedented times’.

These last three months have been surreal. I never could have imagined that a pandemic could have threatened our very existence. I have learned to become so resilient and tried not to worry about what lay ahead. I felt many lows in the first few weeks at not being able to see my friends, my grandparents. My whole routine of getting up on weekdays at 7.30am changed quickly. Also, I soon realized I had to look at the positives of my life. I love to bake so I focused on that skill which my family appreciated. I never before had time to go for long walks without it being on a schedule. I enjoyed the calmness of this. I miss my football training and camogie. Especially the whole team element.

My family are one of the units I really started to appreciate more. My mum is a teacher so she kept the whole day structured around school routine. I liked this as it meant that everything was organized in some way. Also, it meant that the weekend was different from the rest of the week. My dad had to continue working through most of the pandemic as he runs his own business and they were identified as being key workers. If there was a power cut or line damaged, he was on call. I appreciated my sisters so much during this time. The fun and excitement were never short in our home. I missed the visits from my extended family and especially my Grandad.

My community proved instrumental through the pandemic. The NHS saved lives throughout the whole of the north. The leadership from politicians ensured the smooth running of services during this time. Our GAA club organised food drops to help the local SVP society to feed the aged and vulnerable. It was nice to see people work together to help others.

My faith was tested at the start of this as suddenly a virus in China reached our small island. I thought, how could God allow this to happen? Yet I continued to attend Mass every Sunday morning virtually at 11am and I found comfort in listening to the words of the priest. My prayers helped me stay happy and not to fear the days ahead.