How often is enough?

I am maintaining my visits to Dorothy at her care home but now I don’t go every day, I have a day off every now and then. Through this pandemic era the management of the facility are vigilant, insisting (correctly) that at each visit I declare my health, and pass the forehead-temperature check. I accept this precautionary approach very seriously as I would never consciously contribute to any added risk to all the other residents and the wonderful staff. There is little doubt that my frequent visits do impact on my wellbeing to some degree and now, after she’s been there for eighteen months, I have come to terms with the reality of Dorothy’s journey – I am such a slow learner! Understanding and acceptance seem, to me, to be like two sides of a coin, they go together, but sometimes it’s heads, not tails! The loving relationship between Dorothy and myself has been forged over a lifetime and is not as ‘clinical’ and easily separated as some would suggest. Now that we are living apart, every aspect of our ‘new’ lives is entirely ‘apart and different’ and, most times, I have learned to flip the coin when it’s needed. Now, finally although I admit not entirely, I am reconciled to the reality of our separation, the understanding of it. It’s the acceptance that’s hard at times. Dorothy and I still have a deep emotional link, not easily explained by logic; a special bond involving many facets of a long-shared life and a particular mind-set which I think is hard for my family to quite understand, and they continue to urge me to decrease the frequency of visiting, but…..

It’s that ‘head and heart’ thing, and it’s so inexplicably complex and it sometimes consumes my every thought; it debilitates and weakens me at times and, yes,  I know that doesn’t change anything – it certainly doesn’t help Dorothy, either. I continue seeking, with God’s grace, the pathway which will keep me grounded and less intense. I am privileged to have a warm bed and sufficient income to exist in a comfortable way, albeit frugally. We all need, and I strive to have, involvements in other things apart from health: family, friends, hobbies, and physical activities, it’s just that, until now, sharing every moment of my life with Dorothy was at the core of my being, and old habits die hard.

The past five or so years have been difficult for both Dorothy and me. I know Dorothy is in good hands now, but sometimes I do feel a bit jaded; it would be good to switch off and especially to not have to plan and prepare meals! At times it’s been stressful and tiring and I have had ‘a few days off’ every now and then, and I know my journey is easier now than it was, even six months ago. When Coronavirus restrictions permit, I am planning to have a break, a time away with some of my family. Beyond that, again when circumstances permit, I will try to have a week or two away from here, away from family too, just to read, relax, and walk while I am well enough, somewhere warmer for a start!

Over the past couple of years I have, sometimes, felt that need to get away and ‘freshen up’ a bit; I realise it will be strange to not share that time with Dorothy, but now I confess I am thinking about it more often, not too often……