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Donegal-based artist describes losing her father to Covid-19 under the constraints of lockdown

Talented artist keeps visual grief journal

Maria Gasol and her loving father Josep Maria

Maria Gasol and her loving father Josep Maria

Maria Gasol is a 41-year-old woman from Barcelona who is living in Gortahork with her husband, John Columb, and two children, Liam and Nora, 9 and 6. Aside from her freelance translation work, she does artwork. She paints portraits on commission and like most artists she also paints for the love of it. She is working on two big projects: a grant-aided solo exhibition about motherhood, and an illustrated book for adults called “The Zoo of Love”. During the lockdown, because of the tragedy that hit her family, she worked on a visual grief journal too.

Here are her words and her experience of lockdown:   

"Lockdown started with a sense of dread and uncertainty, trying to loosely schedule the day, concerned with homeschooling, whether we would be able to fly home to Barcelona at Easter, and obsessively reading the news.

A natural worrier, this thing had me anxious from the start. Many people in Spain seemed too carefree to me. And soon the nightmare started: my Dad had a fever. It must be a flu, doesn’t match Covid-19. But it was. He deteriorated quickly. Nobody could visit; we didn’t understand why he wasn’t answering the phone. Finally, my mum was allowed to visit.
He was very weak. Next thing was ICU, and soon, an induced coma. Our worlds collapsed.
Worry and anguish through the roof. Diazepam. Insomnia. Waiting for that daily report from ICU, filtered through my mum. Constantly checking the phone, lighting candles, putting up photos, becoming superstitious: anything could be a good or bad omen.
Everybody said: “He’ll be ok. Stay hopeful”.
But he wasn’t.
He never woke.

Covid-19 causes blood-clotting too. We didn’t know that then, like so many other things.
Seventy-four and so healthy and full of life. The pillar in our family, our mentor and protector.
First time grieving and what an awful way to grieve: without my Spanish family, no body, no funeral and no hugs from friends. Traumatizing.

I think about him constantly and struggle often.
But despite the utter heartbreak and shock, there have been good things too: huge affection and support from friends.
The healing power of nature. Beautiful, remote Donegal. Art and creativity. Slowing down. A loving husband that takes the ups and downs, the darkness, the endless tears.
Children that have lifted my spirits and reminded me how precious they are with their empathy, care, innocence, and imagination.
Now anxiously waiting for the day I can fly to be where I need to be."

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