The Virus Chronicles – My Sister’s Birthday

As COVID Restrictions Roll On, I Wonder How Many More Birthdays We Will Spend in Lockdown.

October 21st, 2020

Today is my sister’s birthday, the fourth in our family since the lockdown. I spoke to her the other night and tried to come up with a plan to meet her halfway. We have both moved house during lockdown and haven’t seen each other’s new places.

We have always lived relatively close to each other but now we are in unfamiliar neighbourhoods and live further away. She has moved from the suburbs to a regional area and I have moved closer to the city for work.

We scoured google maps trying to find a halfway point within the 25km limit between our two homes. Somewhere we could get a takeaway coffee and go for a walk. But when we did the maths, 25kms didn’t cover the distance between us. My sister suggested meeting near her workplace, as she had a travel permit to go there. But on a weekend, the only time available to us, her reason for being at her workplace would be questionable and not worth the fine. We decided to wait another couple of weeks to see.

My mother’s birthday was in April. I delivered her present to her door and wished her a happy birthday from the front lawn. We were still new to restrictions and she couldn’t understand why I didn’t just come inside.

“But families are allowed to see each other.” She said.

I explained that was only if they lived in the same household, but not to worry. The restrictions wouldn’t be for long and we’d soon go back to normal.

With my other sister’s birthday in July, restrictions eased, and we planned a family get together. But right before her birthday was due, the second wave of lockdown started and we had to cancel our plans only days before.

Fortunately, some of the shops were still open and I was able to buy a present and send it to her. I browsed the local bookstore and found something I thought she would like and took it straight to the post office. With mail delivery slow and only days before her birthday, I bought an express post envelope and scrawled across it in thick black texta that I couldn’t be with my sister on her birthday and to please deliver the parcel on time.

On the day of her birthday, the postie turned up at my sister’s house. Smiling broadly, he held up her birthday parcel. We joked that my emotional blackmail had worked.

My son’s birthday in August was a bust. Only days before, he and I had just moved out of our home following the break-up of my marriage, and into a two-bedroom unit. With shops and restaurants all closed, I sent some cash to his bank account and we ordered uber eats. Sitting amongst the unpacked boxes, we ate on the couch. It was a far cry from his 21st last year, when our then in-tact family enjoyed a sumptuous Chinese banquet before he went out clubbing with his friends.

With the latest birthday in our family approaching and restrictions due to ease, I hold off mailing my sister a present in the hopes I can give it to her in person. Hopefully, the shops will be open and I can get her something she likes. But the announcement comes only days before her birthday that the lockdown will remain in place, so I must make do with emailing her a gift voucher.

I place the order with an eco-friendly company and hope that it would make it to my sister’s inbox in time.

As I send it off, I wonder what my birthday in January will bring.

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