For people who have lost loved ones in 2020, 1 January 2021 will be the beginning, not the end.
My friend Gemma is one of those people.
For so many of us, 31 October dawned as a normal day, insofar as any day in 2020 is a normal day.
With the easing of lockdown restrictions occurring, state borders beginning to reopen, community transmission numbers remaining low and the various state health departments declaring covid-safe Halloween events acceptable, Halloween was emerging, for many parents of young children, as an opportunity to give their kids a bit of fun after a rough year.
In stark contrast, when Halloween dawned, Gemma found herself lying in bed next to her 3-year-old son, heart pounding in her chest, wondering how to tell him that he would never see his father again.
The evening of 30 October was an unremarkable evening in Gemma’s house. After 3-year-old Huxley went to bed, Gemma, who is due to have her second baby in January, spent a short while relaxing before, at 10.30pm, heading to bed herself. Half an hour later, her husband Nick came to bed and, like so many men, fell immediately asleep.
Shortly after 11.30pm, Nick woke, seemingly having a nightmare. By 11.40pm, Gemma, who had watched him struggling for breath, was on the phone to the emergency services, who were instructing her about how to do chest compressions while an ambulance was on the way. A very long 15 minutes passed in that way.
When the paramedics arrived, they took over and spent over half an hour working on Nick before rushing him to hospital.
By 1.25am, Gemma found herself surrounded by social workers, midwives and nurses, who told her the chances of Nick surviving were minimal. She was taken to his room, where he was hooked up to a machine that was keeping his heart beating. She had a few moments to say goodbye before the machine was switched off. Nick was pronounced dead at 1.32am.
Nick and his family had just celebrated his 40th birthday in August.