This is a story that has its beginning at the very end; a funeral. My grandfather’s funeral to be exact. He was 84 and I was prepared for this day. But he did not die of natural causes or in a time of normalcy. He died from a hospital mistake, made during a small routine operation at a big Norwegian hospital. The operation occurred, only two days before all national hospitals postponed or cancelled all non-life threatening medicine, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. His body fought sepsis for 11 days, before his organs gave in. The hospital where a ghost town at that point.
On his death day, I was in quarantine 8 hours away from my home town. Confined to my home because of an business trip to Spain a week prior. Will I even be able to come to the funeral? 8 more days of physical confinement. All planning occurred over the phone, no face to face contact. Physical distance, even in grief. They decided on a casket burial, since his COVID-19 test came back negative in the end, they had that choice. The funeral was set to the 1st of April, without any gathering after the church funereal. This was two days after my quarantine was over. I felt a wave of relief. I was lucky, this was more than one could hope for in the year of Corona.
On the train station in my hometown, Grandma greeted me. Between us were a big loss and two meters of social distance. No hugs, no physical contact. We sat quietly in the house on the mountain, with the big window, overlooking the fjord - “I dread tomorrow” my grandmother suddenly expressed. Rubbing her face, trying to hide her tears. Most signs of my grandfather were cleaned out of the house. The only traces I could see, was his soap in the shower and the fake rubber “Crockes” he used to wear in the garden. My grandmother had tidied him out of the house, as part of her grief proses. The only part that stood intact, was the tool-shed by the front door.While we were waiting, the churchwarden explained the COVID-19 restrictions in the church; only three people in every other church bench, maximum 50 in attendance and anti-bacterial in the entrance. My grandmother, in her dark sunglasses, greeted everyone by holding her gloved hand over her heart. – “I wish I could hug you all, but I will do this”.