The night before I was to leave I woke at 3am, three hours too early. I wondered why. And wondered. Did Owen maybe need me?
A trip down the chilly hall revealed Owen up on his elbows in bed, also wide awake. Who knows why. Who knows why I knew, why I felt the psychic call (did I?) for help. Do we do it to each other?
Three hours it was bathtime, and Owen and I were both up again. Then away I drove.
To be a caregiver — whether of an infant, or a sick child, a person with intellectual disability, or one with an aging body, or a friend in need — is to allow yourself to be connected. Plugged in. To respond to need at unreasonable times of day, without rancor. Or preferably without rancor. Simply to respond, to do what needs to be done. This is pretty great spiritual practice for an independent, impatient so-in-so like me.
For the past days I have been out of reach of my Owee radar. I am sleeping very well every night. My daughter is filling my place and her father’s place, continuing her own lessons in caregiving that began early. Owen loves to have his siblings home, particularly when they are paying attention to him. I’m sure that is why I can relax so deeply. In that sense my Owee-meter is still at work – I know he’s happy.
Freya texts me that he has been speaking in his gravelly deep voice, making remarks on a theme:
“A giant ogre!”
“Fee Fie Foe Fum”
Even though at home it’s cold, an ice storm in fact, and I learn they have lost electric power, I feel confident Freya has reserves of humor and creativity to manage what she is thrown. For a few days anyway…although as I write these words down, I can feel my anxiety rising…it helps to remember that Edward will get back home before me.
When I am with Owen, my job as his caregiver is to tune in. When away, my job is to tune out. To set down the burden of him for a while. To let go — to forget him in fact. Both things are important, in their season…each difficult. Apparently.