Recently, I've had the pleasure of corresponding with a great champion of caregivers, the award-winning poet and founder of CareGifted, Heather McHugh. Heather won a McArthur Fellowship and decided to create a charity that would fund respite holidays for caregivers. If you need a break, have a look at CareGifted's website to see if you qualify.
To illustrate just how sensitive Heather is to the daily realities of caregiving, read her deeply moving poem.
Of life, par excellence, who is the scholar?
Who marks its prosodies as she does, gifted to discern
How fates revise a partner's eyelights, or the muse retunes
a mother's groan? Who else
could stand it, standing by,
or understanding all alone,
so many months of eye-blinks, years of minutes,
while a child must struggle for her wits
or elder for his breath? How many learn to bear
The bearing down, while simultaneously
Bearing up? And who will mark the tiny
Calibrations in the text, if not herself, himself, or you?
How many have such friends,
for the asking, for the tasking, for the end
of a long relentlessness? All boundaries
are sounded there, beyond the daily
thoroughfares, or just above,
where caregivers at painful length refine
their feeling for the articles of fate we others
only hastily or late will grow awarer of. And if,
mid-stress, there comes a bit
of stroke-struck luck, or half-
intelligible phrase, or single spoon a palsied child
delivers unassisted to her mouth!—whose joy
is greater then, than hers (whose help may long
have been thought better of)? Of life it's not
her sacrifice we ought
to celebrate: it is her love.