Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by this author are their own and do not represent the official position of the Barbados Today Inc.
by Jade Gibbons
“We had a lot of good Christmases growing up. We would decorate the house, decorate the tree. We would have the whole meal etc. and just the memories of coming down on a morning. My mother loved to decorate the tree. Funny enough, Christmas day almost became Mother’s Day.
My mother would just give us kids a few things to put around the house. But decorating the tree was her thing. She wanted to have it perfect. She wanted to have it beautiful.
She would spend hours and hours cooking in the kitchen. She would put on her parang and her soca. And she’d be there dancing around while my siblings and I were there in the kitchen with her, talking about life and family. That was happiness. My mother died when I was 17.
“I’m mixed race. I’m descended from Kalinago, Taino, African and Caucasian. I like to see myself as being an educator, as being a healer. People tend to come to me for advice. I am a medical doctor. My position right now is Senior House Officer at Harrison’s Point COVID-19 Isolation Facility. I am single and live alone.
I generally just believe in making people happier, in adding something to other people’s lives. I believe in being patient with other people and trying to understand them for who they are, not how we wish them to be. In 2019, my favourite liming spot, generally I love food. I like to try different food places. I don’t have a favourite.
I like to try different restaurants, any restaurant that has good food. Before Corona if I needed to blow off steam, I would go to the gym. When the first COVID-19 case was recorded in Barbados I remember I had a sense of fear. I remember reaching out to close family and friends and telling them please be careful. I remember being very much afraid at the fact that here was this little island now facing this disease that had had such a major effect on larger countries, namely the United States and Europe.
And I remember thinking about how we have such a high density of elderly population and persons with non-communicable diseases. I had a very deep sense of fear about how it could impact us and the number of potential deaths we could have from it.
“Yes, I did have dark days, but they were on the rarer side for me. Honestly, I think that if anything I felt very privileged during the lockdowns with the fact that all throughout I have been able to work. And my team is very lovely.
Before this you might think I wish I could stay home from work, but one of the things that COVID-19 has taught us is the importance of companionship and being able to go out and have interactions with people.
I felt very privileged that I’ve been able to work and have those interactions outside of myself. Not only in the economic sense of still being able to earn money and having a job but being able to interact with my work colleagues. There are many people who either they are stuck at home by themselves or are stuck at home in unhealthy family and relationship dynamics. Seeing that in the people around has made me feel very privileged to be able to work throughout this pandemic.
“While COVID-19 in some areas has made it very apparent how fragile humans can be, I think that one thing I have noticed is how resilient we can be. We have it within us to continue fighting. Without gym I put on a slight dad bod. I felt a little bit down, but I gave myself space to feel that. I made the conscious decision to maintain my mental health. I made a conscious decision to be more mindful.
To be mindful means giving space for how I might be feeling in any given moment. It means validating it by telling myself that at the end of the day you are a human being. You are going to feel different things at any given point in time. And that is normal. There is an importance to feeling sad, to feeling lonely, to feeling down.
And also reassuring myself, after I validate it, I understand where it is coming from. Then I remind myself of what the reality might be. The sun is going to shine again. I do have great people around me. I am very privileged. I still have a roof over my head. I have running water. I have food.
“Do I feel like I belong to my community? Not as much as I’d like. I do have desires to do different philanthropic things. While I was in Jamaica studying, I was the Vice-President of an outreach group that had won awards for its involvement in the community.
We would do different things like go to nurseries and tutor the children there, beautify children’s homes, those kinds of things. Doing those things made me feel like I was very much part of the community. However since I’ve been back in Barbados, I haven’t done as much outreach work as I would like to.
In that regard I personally don’t feel as though I’m doing enough, but I understand that COVID-19 has made it difficult to connect. My siblings and I, we are all very close. There are six of us here in Barbados. Two of my sisters and I, we’re each a year away from each other. We have a family group chat. They check in on me regularly.”
Jade Gibbons is an arts and business graduate with a keen interest in social issues and film-making. See https://www.jadegibbons246.com