12 days of corona. A letter from Bernadette Kirwan

Somewhere in Wexford

Day one. [self-isolation]
Dearest Corona.
Just before I hop into the shower, I thought I’d drop you a line. I know the whole world hates you right now, but I always like to find the positive in every situation. I’d actually like to say thank you for giving me the opportunity to spend some quality time at home with himself. [Bet you weren’t expecting that!!}
Sure, were like everyone else on the planet, busy, busy, all go, go, go,… you know how it is yourself!!I
I plan on using the time well and I’d like to think I’ll be an inspiration and a help to others all around the world. I’ll write here every day so people can to follow me and learn how to manage themselves in a crisis.
Corona you may think you are strong but us women are a force to be reckoned with, just you wait and see how we can handle ourselves especially when you have people like me leading the way.!!
To start with I’ve made a list, it’s all about being prepared and in control and lists are great for that sort of thing. They keep everything nice and tidy and in order. I am actually ahead of myself, so I’ve already made mine [see list below]

Said list.
1; Declutter presses, clean house.
2; Clean and weed garden.
3; Release my inner baker and cook.
4; Stay focussed and relaxed.
3; If I’m feeling stressed practice all my yoga/mindfulness, relaxation techniques.
4; Eat healthily.
5; Alcohol for spraying only.
6; Stay away from people.
Once again thank you and I will keep you updated every day. I’m actually quite excited. Now I must go and have that shower.

Still in my room in the roof aka my attic

Day 2.
Dearest Corona,
It’s me again. You are busy I hear, but I’m doing my best to ignore you, I’m not being rude or anything, but I’ve lots to be doing myself.
I actually cleaned out my medicine press and believe it or not you may have saved lives, there were things in there dated 2010, I shudder to think what might have happened if I had given them to himself for his man flu. So dare I say another thank you.
You should see the cakes I made, once I started, I couldn’t stop, I think there’s six on the worktop and one still in the oven. All beautiful works of art and the aromas floating around re only gorgeous
But I won’t be touching them, not a morsel will pass my mouth because I like to be in control of my food intake. Himself is though, ahh sure he deserves it, I have him in the garden power hosing and weeding. He’s great really. Don’t know where I’d be without him.
I’m off to bed now. I’m actually feeling very relaxed. Sorry, just a minute my phone just beeped.

Mmm, a message to say my slimming class is canceled until further notice. No weigh-in for a few weeks, ahh I’ll be grand, I’ve got this. I know I should have a shower but It’s too cold and sure no one is going to see me anyway.

Day 3
Dear corona.
You were foremost in my thoughts when I got up for some reason. There’s just no getting away from you is there, usually, I wouldn’t notice but I suppose it’s because I haven’t been out for a few days. I made a few more cakes to distract myself and cleaned out a few more presses. Himself is gone mad in the garden so I’m on my own in the kitchen a lot, I’m wondering is he avoiding me.
The cakes smelt only gorgeous, so I had a small corner off the chocolate biscuit one. Now self-praise is no praise as my mother often said, but I really am a great cook. Before I knew what was happening, I had nearly half of it eaten. Luckily, I was on my own, so himself didn’t see me. I was a bit cross but then I remembered I had no slimming class for a few weeks.
Plenty of time, I thought, plenty of time.
Breathe, Bernie, breathe!!! I repeated
After all the decluttering the presses looked bare so I did a big online shop I, ordered a few bottles of wine just to have them in the house in case, you know yourself, you never know who might call in.

Day 4
You really are everywhere aren’t you, I can’t turn on the tv or phone, but you are there.
Shopping delivery came early today, I laughed to myself about ordering the wine in case anyone called in. sure no one is going to call are they. Anyway I stored it away safely for a special occasion.
It’s raining cats and dogs outside so himself is stuck in front of the telly, I never knew he had an awful habit of tapping his leg when he’s sitting down. Awful irritating it is.

I had a desperate urge to throw a cushion at him and then I thought I’d go meet someone for coffee and then remembered I couldn’t. felt like a right egit I did. [Not often I feel silly I must admit ]
“Breathe bernie breathe “
I half laughed when I looked down at my flour stained pyjamas and imagined if my friends could see me now. I really should have a shower I thought as I reached for another piece of cake, a coffee one this time, I really am a great cook.

Day 5
Dear Corona.
What are you trying to do to me? I woke up today with the worse headache in my whole life, for a minute I thought you’d got to me but then I remembered the bottle of wine I started and finished last night.
It seemed like a great idea at the time, “spray it and drink it” I said, “to be sure to be sure” I said…… The 4 bags of crisps didn’t help either.
Himself was snoring like a racehorse too. It’s gas how you begin to notice the little things. The urges to throw things are getting stronger but the I practice my breaths,
in on the count of 4….1….2….3…4 and hold and…….
The kitchen presses are gleaming now, and the garden is only gorgeous. As I’m writing this it’s only 11am. The days can get awful long so they can. I finally hopped in the shower and washed my hair and got dressed, my jeans feel awful tight for some reason.

Day 6
My Dear Corona.
Can I just get a few things off my chest? I’m not being rude or anything but it needs to be said. I’ve decided I don’t like you very much, in fact, you are nothing but a little piece of uselessness causing pandemonium wherever you go. I hadn’t a clue what day it was when I opened my eyes and then I realised it was Saint Patrick’s day. He got rid of the snakes and if you think for one minute that you are going to take hold of our country you can think again you jumped up little piece of sh…it.
You do realise that you might think you are winning but helloooo you can think again.
Ok so I can’t get my hair cut and its growing like mad and I was a bit worried for a while. But then I said to myself “Bernie it’s hard being beautiful all the time so embrace your inner grey and let it shine bright”. Himself offered to give it a go with the dog clippers,[ sometimes there are just no words.]
I’ll just cover my legs for now though!! Ahh the freedom of being my natural self is soooo liberating.
I actually see a nation of women after all this is over, with lips teeth, cheeks eyebrows exactly where they should be, in all their natural glory.
Thanks be to god I’ve had nothing like that done, like where would I be now if I had, everything would rapidly deflate and drop, and I’d just be a big soft blob..
Speaking of deflating, I’m inflating by the day so I’m making no more buns and cakes. I’ll just finish what I have though, shame to waste the two dozen buns, tw0 chocolate cakes and 3 sponges. That’s will be it then.
See didn’t I tell you I’m able to find the positive.
Sorry I had to stop there for a minute, himself just walked in on my shiny clean floor and left footprints.
Don’t mind telling you I had to breathe for a few minutes, then he made a cup of tea and left the lid off the tea canister and now there’s crumbs all over my shiny clean worktop. He did offer to make me one but I said “NO” actually bit my tongue as I said it
Spent the last few minutes restoring everything to its former glory of cleanliness. Then I spotted his dirty paw marks on the light switch. I’m flipping wrecked I was, so I needed a few buns to give me energy. I think the dog has worms too so I hope they let me get her a dose in the chemist. Actually, I’m planning on going to the supermarket first thing tomorrow, so I’ll get it then. Ill update my list before I go to bed, it’s going to be all vegetables and fruit and healthy stuff. [did I tell you that lists are essential to staying in control].

Day 7.
Corona or whatever you like to call yourself. Who the hell do you think you are? I didn’t sleep a wink last night and I’m blaming you. And for the record you are getting far too much attention for my liking. I’ve decided I’m writing to you early and then I’m not going to think about you for the rest of the day.
I had to spend the first ten minutes breathing before I could even leave the bedroom. Himself was snoring like a tractor, so just for the crack I accidentally on purpose set off the house alarm. I’m a devil like that sometimes, the devilment just takes hold and I can’t help myself.
Anyway, I nearly gave him a heart attack and the dog went mental so neither of them would look at me. I managed to pull on my loosest jeans and went to the supermarket, in a bit of a huff I might add. I sprayed my hands and donned my mask that my fabulously talented daughter made for me.
I’ll finish this when I come back ….
Well I’m back now and wait till I tell you what happened. When I got to the store there was a man stopping people at the door and turning people away. I hadn’t a clue what was going on but when it was my turn, he let me in.
I didn’t know whether to be deliriously delighted or insanely unhappy when I realised first priority was for the elderly.
He never even asked me my age. He just assumed!!!!!
I was so flustered that I could hardly see my healthy shopping list so I just randomly threw anything and everything in. Some sort of devilment took hold again and I found myself in the wine section throwing six bottles of wine in, [6 for 40 ……like you’d be a fool not too].
I arrived at the checkout and the lady looked at me with one of those knowing looks. I hadn’t a clue what she was trying to portray but when she pointed to her watch and pointed to the wine the penny dropped, it was only 9am.
Mortified I was and once again it’s all your fault.
Yours Bernie

Day 8
Dearest Corona.
Today I’m going to be really nice. You have the ability to bring out my bad side bit today I’m in charge. Afterall I’m a strong independent woman. I’m beginning to imagine you like an old crone so after today that’s what I’m calling you.
If you’re not sure what that means look it up, it means an ugly old woman. it’s a rather powerful feeling imagining you like that …weak and miserable.
I, on the other hand, am feeling strong and positive. I woke up this morning feeling really safe and warm and uplifted.
You see I had a lovely dream, [wine free]. It was as if the earth spoke to me.
I was walking in my local woods, the birds were singing louder than ever, the earth beneath my feet was soft and lush and full of new shoots and buds peeping from the ground.
All of nature seemed to be shouting telling me to get out and see her beauty. She is alive and going nowhere, in fact the well-earned rest is making her bloom more than ever. She wants everyone to see her beauty, to hear her and to say thank you.
She has been neglected for a while but bears no grudges. All she wants is for all of us to thread gently as we walk our path. To remember her beauty that is so evident now and to embrace it.
Her trees that have withstood the elements over and over again can help us. We just need to observe them as they stand tall rooted in the earth. She is full of gratitude for this opportunity to be at peace.
When she is at peace she blossoms and thrives. She is there to help us all, use her to wrap her cloak of protection around each and every one of us.
I woke then feeling peaceful, was it my imagination or were the birds at my window singing louder than ever.
I don’t think so.
Go gently on the earth friends.
Yours Bernie

[All published on 23/03/20]

Day 9.
Listen you loser, you are causing pandemonium all over the place. Were all avoiding each other because of you. not only that but I’m finding it hard to avoid myself.
I got up to go to the loo last night and on my way back to the bedroom wasn’t there this awful haggard looking crone walking towards me, frightened the be jasus out of me she did. She had a fierce wild look about and her eyes, you should have seen the stare she had.
The biggest fright was when I realised, I was looking at myself in the big mirror at the bottom of our hall. didn’t sleep a wink after that and himself snoring in the bed beside me didn’t help. He hasn’t shaven for over a week now, you should see the state of him but I’m saying nothing. It’s hard sometimes, saying nothing, I mean. Doesn’t come naturally to me at all but I’m doing my best.
I read my list every day, but it doesn’t seem to be as important for some reason. I’m too busy you see; this self-isolation is hard work and gets harder by the hour. I don’t see anyone outside our house and that’s actually not too hard. It’s what’s inside that’s becoming a problem
I swear the walls are closing in and this morning when I woke up, I decided the house is shrinking. Trying to self-isolate in a confined space is driving me to distraction.
You see dear darling CORONA or CRONE …. or whatever you like to call yourself, how am I meant to self-isolate from the fridge, the larder, the wine, the cheese, the chocolate. Answer me that why don’t you. Well I’m waiting for an answer…. Nothing to say now, have you??.
Otherwise; sure were all grand

Day 10.
As I write today, I realise “I’m quare sick of you”. Here’s the scary bit, I’m getting sick of myself too. Sure, I thought I was only lovely, a unique piece of human perfection.
It’s been a while since I spent so much time with myself and now, I’m beginning to wonder. All sorts of questions and doubts are popping into my head, not all good ones either. Trying to avoid myself isn’t working anymore because everywhere I turn there I am. I’m just going to have to meet myself head on and say “howya Bernie, is it yourself”, and see what happens.
I’m afraid to ask himself what he thinks, I’m just too sensitive right now about everything. Speaking of himself, he shaved yesterday, I could hear the tap tap tap of the razor on the sink, on and on it went, but I said nothing. My hearing seems to have improved no end because I’m suddenly hearing things I never noticed before, like the sound of him chewing and the way he seems to clear his throat every few minutes. I’m saying nothing though
Only last night they were talking about flattening the curve, now I know what they mean but the paranoia is bad, and I thought the lad on the telly was talking directly to my curves. You see I’m getting curvier by the day because of you.
The baking has stopped but we have decided to use up everything in our freezer. [I’m a great cook, did I tell you that already] I’ve discovered the feckin freezer is full of all my batch cooking and baking so were going to have to eat that now. My dog refuses to leave the couch, she’s worn out from being walked and I’m sure she’s wondering who the heck is Corona. Anyway I’m sick of writing so I’m off to meet myself for a while.

Day 11.
Dear corona.
I was saying to you in the last letter about how my hearing is getting better for some reason. [letters that I think you aren’t reading by the way] That’s nothing new for me, sure no one listens to me most of the time.
Anyway, back to what I was saying, I seem to hear everything now, I can swear I’d hear a pin drop, it’s not helping my issues that have arisen around my sensitive state though.
Speaking of which, myself and himself nearly had words over the porridge this morning. You couldn’t make it up. He was heating his for ages and I said… “2 minutes is enough” and then he said “I didn’t need to tell him how to heat his porridge” and then I said…….ohh I said nothing, I just fixed my face a certain way.
And then I laughed smugly when I saw him nearly burn the mouth off himself.
Corona!!!!! you are bringing out all sorts of sides to me that I had never knew I had. The fact that I laughed at himself in pain is worrying me. I always saw myself as a kind caring and perfect individual, now I’m back to doubting myself, [it was kind of funny though, you have to admit.]
I had a lovely dream last night about a story called Heidi. You mightn’t know her but when I was a child, I wanted to be her. She lived in the hills in Switzerland where the air was pure, and the skies were blue. I so wanted to live there because it looked just perfect.
Wait a minute…. maybe I’m getting my wish. Today the air is clear and the skies…. they are so blue and the birds, they are singing from the roof tops. So, a tiny little thank you is in order Corona for allowing the world to take a break and for helping me to get to know myself all over again. Bit scary what I’ll discover next, but I’ll plod on. Not a lot else to do for now.
Tomorrow I’m having toast for breakfast!!

Day 12
Dear Corona.
12 times I’ve written to you and not a word. I thought you would be gone by now, but it looks as though you’re here for a while more. Day 12 has me pondering a lot and at this stage I don’t care if you’re not listening.
When I had breast cancer many years back, I had to learn to self-isolate, live in the moment, take things day by day and not think too far ahead. I learned so much from that time in my life.
Thankfully I recovered and some of the lessons I learnt slipped a bit, but they were always there, deep in my psyche, like a little voice, ready to remind me when I needed reminding.
It’s a bit the same now Corona.
I wonder in years to come will we look back at this time with longing for what it thought us. Will we remember the lessons?
When the roads, the skies, and streets are congested again will we think of this time as a huge learning curve in our lives.
I will continue to wonder and learn. I’ve ticked the boxes on my to do list. The house and garden are spotless. Great, but I’ve more important things to do now.
I’m going to embrace all that I learn, surround myself with positivity and love and take nothing for granted in my life. I might drop you an occasional letter to let you know how I’m getting on, [only if you want to of course.]
Bernie xx

[letter 9-12 added 31/03/20]


Bernie is a mother, wife, nurse who loves to write all sorts.


  1. Brilliant, I love the style and pace of these letters, you can feel the spiral out of control, then back to sanity again. Most enjoyable reading thank you Bernie

  2. Needed a boost this evening after being told how many underlying conditions I have. Your summary gave me a great laugh…. Keep writing and sharing…. Kathleen

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *