This year is Leap Year. Which means we have an extra day added onto our calendar. This has always made me ask, “Why it is called year if it is just a day?” “Why not just call it Leap Day?” Anyway, with that awareness the thought jumps around in my head, “What would I do with an extra day?”
As a caregiver, time for myself is something I get little of and I crave. It isn’t that I do not take time for myself but more that time has to be strategically planned. Oh the thought of going and pampering myself with a pedicure, massage, and facial runs through my head. Taking in a movie, mindless shopping, or oil painting like days of old crosses my mind. Even just going for a walk in the park, followed by a lunch outing make the list. And then reality sets in and I think, “Just a long uninterrupted nap would be nice.” I don’t seem to get enough sleep as it is and now, as a caregiver, it is always in segments. So a day to just cuddle up in the covers and get served breakfast in bed sounds heavenly. I envision myself as the Scarlette O’Hara character in Gone with the Wind or even more recent Lady Mary Crowley from Downton Abbey where a maid enters my room with a tray of the finest delicacies and waits on me hand and foot. What can I say, I am a dreamer.
Basically, what I realize is that I miss those days before the stroke when my husband and I would go on impromptu outings. It was not out of the ordinary for us to load up our dog Max (miniature dachshund), a basket of wine and cheese, and go to the lake to soak in all that nature gives to us. Don’t get me wrong, we do these things now but it is different because I must do most of the work. It is work to get everything in the van. It is work to pack and prepare food for the both of us, as well as, Max. It is work to pack a “Husband Bag.” I do all this then it is work to load him, my most precious cargo, in the van. Sometimes we go to the destination and it will last fifteen minutes. The moment I had planned for a nice outing becomes overcast by a scurry to get my husband back to the comforts of home. He sometimes has anxiety so the outing becomes less enjoyable. This in turn strikes up sorrow with in me and I have to bury it because I don’t want to upset my husband. I crave those days when my husband would surprise me and serve me breakfast, or prepare a nice dinner with wine that he strategically picked out all with a story of how much I mean to him. Certainly, I still have special moments with my husband it just always includes assistance from me, the caregiver.
All in all, I have adapted. I plan fun activity at home because it is easier. I order carry out so I don’t have to cook. I rent movies so we can watch them at home. The list goes on of things I do to take the burden off of myself but the one probing thought that still remains about Leap Year is, “What does my husband crave? What would he do on this extra day?” Oh sure I still think, “What would I do with an extra day all to myself.” Balancing having my own time verses time care giving for my husband would be grand. It is like creating a piece of art. There is a blank canvas, oils in various hues, and brushes to bring the two together. It is a masterpiece continually being adapted to perfection.
Mostly though, what I realize with this thought about an extra day is that I have my husband in this day. I thank God each time I watch the sunset for having stamina to care for my husband at home. I praise the miracles of healing surrounding him. I am filled with joy for each moment we have to plan movie night, to plan what food to order, and to find comfort with just a touch. After all, it comes down to what matters most doesn’t it? For me, that is my husband surviving. So, on this extra day I plan to spend my “Leap Day” with a wonderful man who is a Stroke Survivor. I plan to savor every moment because who knows what tomorrow will bring. I plan to embrace that I am a caregiver and smile proudly while doing it. I plan to Leap with Joy on this day.
So, my readers, I ask the question of each of you: What will you do this Leap Year Day?