It may seem like I have way too much to say out here on this clifftop. And it is true, I do. Out here I can think a whole thought all the way through, chew it over, shift it a bit this way or that, develop it without a single otherly demand or call for action to trip me up. Of course, I know this will not be sustainable, not once this week of freedom draws to a close. I will return to duty as I always do, eventually. We all do. Life is not a long holiday from Life. Life is a casserole of colour and texture, full of soft sweetness and tough chewy bits and not an always-full glass of champagne. Trust me, that would be unpleasant in the end. Hangover, indigestion, hunger for something solid inside an ordinary belly will always have us move towards the fridge and the oven and, besides, after one or two glasses of bubbly it turns to acid inside a mouth, melts the lippy, taints the breath and falls you over.
However whenever I am away, alone with my developing thoughts and no trip ups, I often discover a new ingredient for the casserole of Life. Aha! I say to myself. That’s IT! This is the little something I can take home with me, this Aha that will change everything. And it does for the few days I remember it as IT. But, in a short while, this amazing answer to everything loses its centre stage talent and slips back into the chorus line. Even though I know this will happen, I always hope it won’t, that this time I finally get it, got it. I know enough now to smile at that. I know enough to be able to seek, find, employ, feel the hope, the epiphanal excitement, and to let it be what it will be. After all, playing Capercaillie and listening to that angel voice of Karen Mathieson on a loop for hours and hours will drive himself crazy within a short time. Can you turn that down? Can you wear headphones? Yes, yes, yes.
But how do I say those yesses? Do they spoke out like knives into the distance between us or do they float from my smiling mouth like butterflies? Well, both, actually. It depends on how I am feeling at the time and there’s the key. If I decide how I am feeling then I am free to smile out butterflies. Sometimes, though, in the face of the rising fretful demands from a person with dementia, I can flick a knife with astonishing accuracy. Something snaps in me and I appear to be at the mercy of it in the way I respond. But, I remind myself, I am human and tired of all this walking on broken glass and, besides, how hard is it to say I’m Sorry for Stabbing You? It isn’t hard at all.
It thinks me of the times in my life when I believed I had found The Solution to Everything only to discover it was just one and could not stand alone – not in a life of change, and Life is on a right bender of change just now, more than it ever was. Instead I take this great idea as one colour in my tapestry, one ingredient in the casserole, that extra little something that effects enough change to lift the whole thing. It is no longer bland with too much grey and not enough pzazz. I just pzazzed it. And, next time I get to inhabit a solo space, could be a week, could be a walk, could be a moment or two, I will work quickly. My fingers will rummage, my mind will open, my eyes, ears, and I will wait for another ‘it’ to appear like magic, like a sudden butterfly, like a red sun just before the sea snuffs it out, the one that pinks my window and has me hurtling, in a gasp to the door. This is my best shot. And, when I go back into the sad fretful frustration of dementia I will take it with me to add to our conjoined life.
And it will make all the difference.