The Czech Republic - Vancouver
Art by Emily Honderich
Jarmila Herout story
Jarmila Herout was born in 1950 in Czechoslovakia, where she worked in health care. She came to Canada in 2019, and she just celebrated her 70th birthday. She hopes to be happier with her first love in this beautiful country.
The Pandemic With My First Love
I flew to Canada 11 months ago. It was a great dare to go out into the world at 70, and leave the life I knew, my family, friends, and a lovely cat in the Czech Republic to reunite with my first love from school.
The political context of 1968 forced us to separate, and we only saw each other again when I came here in 2019 to make our dream of getting married come true.
I chose happiness and to begin a new life with my husband but unprepared for the isolation I would face. I lacked the understanding of English and adapting to an unfamiliar environment and culture with nobody other than my husband.
I was grateful to hear about the great programs that exist in Canada to support immigrants, and I hoped there I would find new friends. But COVID-19 changed everything. It was like a nightmare I still can’t wake up from, one where I fear for my family back home in Prague.
Yet, whenever I remember that autumn day when I received a handwritten letter from my first love, I forget all about the isolation and loneliness and focus instead on our perfect quarantine together after fifty years of being apart.
"It was like a nightmare I still can’t wake up from, one where I fear for my family back home in Prague."