I read this last night in my current novel...
If happiness was now beyond his reach, he could at least know respite, and respite, with its lifelong rhythm, can in the awareness of it be called by the name of peace.
"But there must be no before or after," said Sally.
He looked at her with polite astonishment, and she laughed.
"Please forgive me!" she said. "I was thinking of moments of respite. One can't get the most out of them unless one treats them as the next thing: as though it were the only thing. I mean, if you think about the toothache that has just stopped, it so easily becomes the toothache that is going to begin again, and all your peace is lost."
Except for a few hours on Mothers Day when part of our extended family was gathered together for a few hours, I have had ten days of respite from caregiving. The first few days with Mom in the care of a dear lady whom she loves and trusts in town (who used to manage the respite care that Mom attends now and then) and the last several with Mom in the care of one of my brothers at her beach house. The first few days found my husband and I in Asheville NC steeping ourselves in the vibrant, warm atmosphere and celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. And the last several days have been spent at home with me straying no further than the edges of the waving hayfields. Heaven.
At the beginning of our respite, I found myself now and then counting....seven more nights without the glowing monitor by my bedside...six more days when I can flit in and out of the house and do and go wherever I want without a thought...five more nights of staying in bed the entire night and early morning, without a single trip down the hall and no long minutes watching the monitor in the wee hours...four more days of working in the garden for as long as I like without the monitor beeping in and out of range constantly or needing to worry whether Mom will be happy for another minute or two as she sits nearby...three more days with little routine and long hours of quiet and no need to speak or encourage or cajole or instruct...and then I read those words last night and stopped thinking about before or after this wonderful, generous period of respite.
Tomorrow I will take up my sweet burden again. And the respite will come around again, as well. And not just the week every three months that my brothers aim to provide, but the every-other-week sleepover that we are trying to make a habit with the same dear lady in town, and the Thursday afternoons at the respite at the church when I do my errands and enjoy a few town hours on my own, and the moments I try to weave into each day...listening to the mockingbird in the sweet night over the gentle hum of the monitor, the ten minutes of weeding before Mom wakes up in the morning, the time with my novel and a cup of something while Mom naps, the moments when we are side by side together and she is content...