I don’t have a clue. How do I do this? How do I keep doing this? Caregiving through Covid: the challenges of 2020 have presented a steep learning curve, and some days it feels like we’re all just making it up as we go along.
A friend & mentor noted that “. . . your blog is titled "A Long, Lonely Journey," and yet so much you write about is of the connections that sustain you.” Connection: the miracle that saves me, every time I’m on the edge.
(Sanctuary Door, Durham Cathedral)
It’s been a struggle for me to ask for help. Sometimes I’m not quite sure what help I need; often it’s just difficult to ask. (And of course I know that no one can give me what I really want - Doug to be well again.)
(2013: a pint in a pub after a 17 mile walk - tired but as cheerful as ever)
Some of the most thoughtful, most useful help has been given to me without my asking. For over a year my sister organised her work week so that she could spend every Wednesday morning with Doug. She arrived at the door, gave me a hug, and took him to her home for breakfast, an outing or activity, and lunch, giving me a block of time to mark students’ essays, write tests, shower, grocery shop, read, sleep. She texted me photos during the morning showing my safe, happy husband.
The day I was told my husband had been allocated a bed in long term care, my best friend left her family’s dinner half-made, one daughter at a skating rink, another at a swimming lesson, rang her husband and mother-in-law with instructions, got in her car, and drove four hours to be with me as I went through the process.
My Mum, a photographer, has made a series of note cards with pictures of Piper, and sends Doug a letter every single week. The day it arrives a staff member reads it to him, then sticks it to his wall; when I visit I’m able re-read him a selection of her letters. She’s also made a book featuring her pictures of Doug. Together, we have all been walking in Norfolk, canoeing in the Ottawa Valley, narrow boating in Yorkshire, swimming in Mexico, celebrating our wedding, my graduations, hanging out in a pub, at a picnic, on the deck. There are very few words in the book, but every page says to me: “I see you Doug. I see you. I know who are you, what you like, how you think. I see you and I love you.”