Joshua knew that he was going off to respite yesterday morning, he watched me pack his familiar grey overnight bag. We came downstairs to fetch his medication and while I was counting tablets in the kitchen, he opened the back door, went out into the yard in his bare feet and opened my car door, He climbed into the passenger seat, whereupon he switched on the music system and played some U2 Greatest Hits to himself. He seemed to be ready to go to me, apart from still being in his PJs, and he looked very pleased with himself when I peered in.
I drove him there for 10.30, after getting us both dressed, and he was smiling as he went through the door. Instead of turning left into the lounge, he turned right and went straight into his allocated bedroom, as if to show me that he knew where he was and recalling his bedroom. He was happily playing a keyboard when I left him, he hardly gave me a backward glance. It was still sunny when I got home, so I immediately got on to cutting the grass as I knew the forecast was for it not to stay dry. In fact it started to drizzle as I was on the last three minutes of mowing, so I timed it just right.
I was then overcome with overwhelming tiredness and I dozed on and off in the snug for much of the wet afternoon, enjoying the luxury of not being woken by being sat upon or having a cold hand in my face. At 4 pm, my husband and I decided to move and we took the dogs for a walk in the park, had a late fish and chips lunch then went to the supermarket together. I was very content with how we had chosen to spend our day free of Joshua, when my husband suggested that we go out for a drink! My initial reaction was to say no, but then the idea grew on me and we went out at 9.30 pm and I expected to be home and in my PJs an hour later. In fact we were out for two hours, until well after my normal bedtime. We met some friends and colleagues in the bar and they made us feel very welcome and so we stayed out longer than planned. We do not often go out for drinks, so it felt very grown up and thankfully nobody mentioned Mum, though I toasted her in my mind.
So we did not waste any of our Short Breaks hours and it sounded as though Joshua had fun too, when I phoned up at 8.30. He will have enjoyed mixing with new people and of course they took him to Donalds, for which they were thanked. He is there today until teatime too, so this will be his longest stay to date. This weekend was timely, to give me some space before the funeral, although I did not know it when I booked in this weekend. Mum shared in our relief that we had found and chosen a new respite provision and although she had not visited, she had read all about it and had seen photographs. She had told one of my Aunts all about it on one of her hospital visits. She was very interested in the choices that we made for Joshua and now we are going to have to visit and review his daycare options without her input. She would never tell me what to do, but she was a great listener and so often, you would resolve problems or find solutions while talking things through with Mum. I will miss those calm, caring and considered telephone conversations that we had, when I always knew that she was on our side.