ON SATURDAY, I had the unexpected pleasure of hearing the pipes and drums twice within a couple of hours.

The first was the talented Haddington Pipe Band, creating a real and welcome buzz at Haddington Farmers’ Market; the second, the delightful Dollar Academy Pipe Band paying tribute at a memorial service in the Royal Botanic Gardens for a dearly loved friend.

Both performances evoked opposing emotions.

The first was an uplifting feeling of overwhelming relief as the happy activities of social gathering and shopping for locally produced food left me feeling upbeat and energised.

East Lothian Courier: Haddington Pipe Band, shown here playing in Tranent, caught the attention of Mary Contini in HaddingtonHaddington Pipe Band, shown here playing in Tranent, caught the attention of Mary Contini in Haddington

Later, however, during the very special memorial service, the rendition of Highland Cathedral left me deeply moved and grateful for the life of my cherished friend.

We need to be optimistic, put our faith in the resilience of our communities and businesses to rebuild and flourish again.

But, parallel to this, we should be mindful that many among us are carrying a heavier burden from the last three years; those who were bereaved and those who worked with the sick and dying.

I don’t think we can truly comprehend what it is to lose a loved one unexpectedly, excluded from being with them; what it felt like to have to wait months, without closure, unable to mourn a loss with supportive family and friends around you.

Can we understand the torment of feeling a life was lost too soon, perhaps due to mistakes, even lost in vain?

READ MORE: Mary Contini column: A perfect storm for our chippies

Government must and will be scrutinised and brought to account for decisions made.

Facts were scarce.

But those tasked with carrying out Government policy, our NHS, to a person stepped up and, putting their own and their own families’ lives at risk, made exceptional sacrifices for the good of us all.

They went to work when many were locked down. They cared for the sick. They consoled the dying. They telephoned the next of kin to share tragic news. We owe them.

NHS Lothian havs released a film tribute to the exceptional response of these professionals. Watch on youtu.be/vZqlC-I2pJc