Hana Niedermeierova

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Dear Galway,
here is my Covid19 letter to future generations

Today is Monday 25th January 2021. Ten years ago I moved to Ireland from the Czech Republic. Maybe these countries still exist, maybe not. I cannot tell the future.

When I arrived I tried to learn something about Irish history. I heard about the Great Famine in the 19th century. It must have been tough, I told myself. All texts about the Irish history showed some numbers, some dates, but still I could not feel the real atmosphere of those historic days.
One day I entered a small church somewhere in the country and spotted a notice board near to the entrance. On the board there were yellowed letters from the times of the Great Famine. I started to read them. When I finished I was crying. It was the moment when the neutral textbooks became alive and personal. This experience made me sit down, and write a letter to you. I do not want to make you cry, I just want to share my personal experience with you.

You might have heard about the Covid19 pandemics in the beginning of the 21st century. Maybe not, because much more important things have happened since. Did mankind run out of drinking water? Were the biggest towns flooded by melting icebergs?

But let us go back to my story. Do not worry. My story is not sad at all. I will write to you about the wedding of our daughter Jana. The wedding was planned for May 2020. In November 2019 I flew from Dublin to Prague to help Jana to choose the wedding dress. I was pleased that she asked me to help her. We chose a lovely dress, and I flew back to Ireland while Jana and Peter flew to South-East Asia for a two month holiday. They returned to Prague at the end of January 2020.

In January the news came about an unknown disease spreading from China. It is far away from us thought almost everybody in Europe. But it did not take long, and the virus reached Europe and started to spread with shocking speed. Confused governments of EU countries set up their rules individually. Some countries closed their borders, ordered lockdown and compulsory wearing of face-masks. Other countries only recommended people to wash or disinfect their hands. The virus spreaded, and the rules were changed.

All public events in the Czech Republic were cancelled including weddings. Most flights to Prague were cancelled too. Nobody knew when it would be possible to travel again. The wedding was postponed till the end of August. Everybody believed that by then the virus would be gone. The virus does not like warm temperatures. As a result of it the pandemics slowed down during the summer months. So we bought another pair of fly tickets. Suddenly the situation in Ireland got worse and our flights were cancelled again. I asked a friend of mine if she knows someone being at the wedding of their daughter on-line. And she said that parents of our friend from Syria could not fly to her wedding in France for political reasons.

We wanted to be at the wedding of our daughter. She wanted us to be there. The situation and rules changed every day. Luckily the flights were renewed, and we could finally fly. We enjoyed the wedding together with 80 other wedding guests and without face-masks. The next day the rules changed. Only 20 people could be present at a wedding, and everybody had to wear face-masks again. So we were really very lucky. After the wedding we returned to Ireland.

We decided to move back to continental Europe to be closer to our families. In September my husband Josef tried to change his job. His potential Austrian employer wanted him to move to Austria in November 2020. But nearly all flights to continental Europe were cancelled again. So Josef chose another employer in Ireland. We could not travel home for Christmas.

Finally there is a vaccine against Covid19. According to the original plan we should be vaccinated in summer 2021. Recently we learned that the vaccination plan was delayed. Maybe we will have to wait another year before we can see our families.

We hope that the vaccination will defeat the virus. But we know that our lives and our values will be changed. From now on we will not consider many things to be granted. We will appreciate the chance of travelling, meeting families and friends. Maybe, it was time to slow down, and realize what really matters.

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