Friendship in the time of COVID-19

#InternationalFriendshipDay

Tilly Trinder
Two friends
@UNICEF/Jordan
30 July 2020

If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.

Winnie-the-Pooh

Exactly a year ago, I wrote that Winnie the Pooh was a source of comfort for me while growing up, not only did he help me get to sleep, he also helped me understand the importance of friendship. Little did I realize that, a year on, his words would provide more comfort than I could ever imagine.

Like most people I have spent the past five months in isolation. In that time, I have experienced loss and grief, and a series of ups and downs. One of the biggest challenges has been not being able to see those closest to me, to spend time with them and embrace them. In some small way, this reminds me of the stories that I have read and continue to read as part of my work with UNICEF’s Middle East and North Africa Regional Office. I have pored over the discussions in Album ‘11’ and Book of Dreams projects, listening to the dreams of returning home, embracing friends, and clinging to a sense of normality. Winnie the Pooh reminds me that despite distance we are stronger and braver than we think.

Isolation has taught me how to adapt in the face of adversity. Time spent with friends has changed. I find that I am spending much more time having phone calls and playing games. I guess you could say my friendships have become much more childlike, reverting to play. Through the children’s stories that I have heard, and my time in isolation, I have learnt the importance of play. Displaced children often talk about their friends and their need to play to make light of a bad situation. This reaffirms Pooh’s second point: we are smarter than we think.

Winnie the Pooh’s words have taught me a lot of things, most importantly that despite distance, friendship makes us stronger, braver, and smarter. If it wasn’t for the support that I have had during isolation I wouldn’t have felt any of these things. I have clung onto the words of Winnie-the-Pooh to remind me that the despite the distance placed between me and those that I love, I can still carry my friendships close.

To all my friends who have stood by my side (including Winnie the Pooh), thank you.