Tomorrow is the end of the seemingly-endless week of respite, and I got almost nothing done — the garage isn’t cleaned, the cupboards are not tidied, the garden isn’t ready for winter. What I did do, is have long wandering uninterrupted conversations with friends, and walks in the woods and at the beach. Got my hair cut, bought new jeans…..
I cried my eyes out that first night, and later I started sleeping 10 to 12 hours each night. I talked to myself incessantly. I found it hard to remember that I didn’t have to schedule every little thing around care for Don. It was weird to just be able to do what I wanted.
And I found I didn’t have a clue what I wanted.
By the end of the week, I suspected that I was addicted to being a caregiver – I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t have him for an excuse, and I didn’t even know what or when I wanted to eat. I did enjoy my respite time enough that I think I can get over the addiction.
I had no idea what kind of price I was paying for the caregiving, and I am thankful for the case manager and health staff who insisted it was time for this next step.
I love being alone. I have known for years that price I pay for this love. The dementia and the shadowing just makes it much worse.
More, I realise I will not have an idea who I am or what I want to do with my few remaining years on this sweet sweet earth until my responsibility for Don – at least the daily responsibility – is relieved. This is what I need before I die – time to be with and for myself in the universe.
Is that ethical? Practical? Shrug. It sounds to me like Don was pretty content in the very competent care of others. There was a heart-breaking moment when he told one of the caregivers that his wife had died, and was very happy to be told that was not the case.
So what’s next? Two weeks at home together and by coincidence, there is another week of respite scheduled. The silence of the stars awaits.