How’s the last 18 months been for you Dylan?
He laughs, then I laugh, but it tails off.
‘Yeah, it has been a bit crap.’ he says. ‘My best mate went into hospital with a surprise liver transplant. So that was November all through to about March, with her recuperation, and in February my Dad passed away.’
Dylan’s parents moved to New Zealand some years ago. “I always knew, one day, I’d get that call, but I was hoping it wasn’t going to be this soon. It feels too soon to have happened. That was really difficult. Well, it’s still difficult now. I can’t get out there. I get why the borders shut, and I applaud it, but at the same time it’s frustrating, because there’s no way for me to get there. I can’t see my Mum, who’s on her own. It’s my Dad, and I couldn’t even be at his funeral.’
Dylan did apply to get a special exemption to get to New Zealand from the UK, but was turned down. “Because he had already passed, they decided there was no reason for me to go over. He wasn’t dying.’ His Dad was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease at the beginning of the pandemic, which was a huge shock to them all. ‘He was such a healthy guy, had survived a baseball bat to the head in Australia, but this is what took him out, and that was the harshest thing. It was something that took away his independence, and he hated it.’
Dylan’s wife’s Grandma also passed away. ‘She had a stroke and went into a home. All through lockdown no one could really visit her, which was really hard. Kerry was going to visit her when lockdown restrictions eased, waiting the whole year, but she passed away before that could happen, so she didn’t get to see her at all.’
‘It’s just been a combo of things, and to be fair, those are the horrific parts, losing people we’re really close to, but the rest of the time’s been alright. You know, getting to finally see people again, and going away. We went to France for a mates wedding. I’ve never been to France, and it was sunny in November so I was happy! Peaks and troughs.’
Dylan turned 40 in January 2021, when the UK was in lockdown. ‘So I turned 40, which is horrible, as you know.’ I laugh. ‘I couldn’t do anything. Had all these great plans for me and my mates to go to Disneyworld in Florida, which had been planned for 10 years, but nope, that went out the window.’
Kerry asked Dylan what he wanted to do instead. ‘I told her, just want to go outside.’ He laughed. ‘It had just rained, and me and Kerry went out for a walk, and I lost my shoe in the mud.’ I asked him what he was thinking at that point. ‘Fuck my life.’ He laughed. ‘Nah, we couldn’t stop laughing. It just summed everything up. We went home and ate a whole salted caramel cake. Despite all that, it was a great day.’
Dylan’s still enjoying working from home, although he doesn’t mention whether they’re still doing the yoga he talked about in his original post which he and Kerry started doing together in place of the daily commute.
He’s also loving meeting up with friends. ‘Hugging is nice. When you haven’t hugged other people for a while, it’s really nice. ‘Oh, and going to the cinema. I’m loving that.’
I ask Dylan what he thanks he’s learnt over the last 18 months. ‘Ooh that’s tough,’ he says, staring off into the distance. There’s a pause. ‘I don’t know. Hmm.’ He looks at me. ‘Can I say I don’t know? I genuinely don’t know.’
I’m not letting him get away so easily. ‘Is there anything about yourself that you think you’ve learnt?’ I ask.
‘Yeah. I guess..I don’t deal with loss very well. I knew that, but I don’t like to dwell on it. But I guess also I’m a bit stronger than I thought I was. I’m quite an emotional person, I always have been, but I know I can just about cope. I learnt things will affect me in ways I don’t expect. Like, I haven’t felt a drive or motivation sometimes to do the things I normally would. It was like my mental state said nope, you’re not going to do anything that’s too strenuous right now, just do the basics. My brain and my body will tell me what to do.’