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Restricted from visits with his grandmother, student inspired to write a pandemic poem

Because of visitation limits and restrictions, McNiven-Berwick is only able to interact with his grandmother through her bedroom window
Skyler McNiven-Berwick and his grandmother Carollynn McNiven take a photo before the COVID-19 lockdown. Supplied Photo Skyler McNiven-Berwick

A Medicine Hat man is sharing a poem he wrote during the COVID-19 pandemic that sheds light on the struggles of living in a long-term care facility.

Skyler McNiven-Berwick is an education student at Medicine Hat College and has made a point of spending as much time as possible with his grandmother during the health crisis.

Because of visitation limits and restrictions, McNiven-Berwick is only able to interact with his grandmother through her bedroom window. He says it has been difficult not being able to have a direct visit with his grandma.

“We were doing an assignment doing some free writing during our COVID-19 experiences,” he said. “Especially around March when everything shut down, I made sure to go visit my grandma every day. I could only visit her at the window, but I’d still walk the dog there and sit with her. Soon enough it because something that everyone had to do in this situation.

“We weren’t allowed in and now we’re only allowed to have two people see her, so it’s still how I see her.”

McNiven-Berwick says the cooling weather will make it so even window visits with elderly loved ones become impossible.

“As flu season comes and more cases get reported, we may not be able to see her through the winter,” he said. “If we get to February, it’s been a year since I’ve been able to give her a hug.

“I think this is something that a lot of people are going through right now and I wanted to share with people that they’re not alone.”

McNiven-Berwick says he hopes the poem shines a light on what many elderly folks may be feeling right now.

“I know we need to protect people who are vulnerable and we do need to protect the elderly right now, but I just think we need better systems in place so they can do some of the things they love to do, and to see all of their loved ones,” he said. “Living in isolation like that would be so hard.

“We’re putting all of the value on life right now and not quality of life – I just think there needs to be a better balance.”

McNiven-Berwick says the poem he wrote is based off of conversations and interactions he’s had with his grandmother during COVID-19.

Through the Window

Every day I watch the trains

Through the window

As seasons pass, I count the cars

Through the window

The sun shines on my face, but it’s only

Through the window

I see my children. I hear their voices

Through the window

I blow them kisses, but I long for a hug, but you can’t hug

Through the window

I saw my great grandson for the first time

Through the window

I struggled to see his smile

Through the window

I am here; my heart, my life, my whole world is out there

My Lord, please, do not let my soul leave

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