I have spent a lot of my last two days as a care worker just sitting. One of my clients, who is normally very lively, has been diagnosed with a urine infection and has slept on and off throughout my visit. Her morning carers filled me in when I got here, expecting our usual session of crossword puzzles, coffee and chat, so effectively today I am a sitting service until her son arrives to take over.
Yesterday, a different client was upset and did not want to talk, eat, watch TV, listen to music or generally interact but just needed me to sit and hold her hand.
I’ve got used to being a doer: coming into a situation and instantly assessing all the options, sussing out and flicking through what’s going on like Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock. I try to create some order out of chaos, make it easier for people to find their way around both physically and mentally. I feed the budgie, load the dishwasher, listen to the answerphone messages and check the diary. I navigate the online shopping and appointment making. I deal with endless admin – liasing with NHS and social services, opticians, electricians, dieticians, housing, delousing, friends and families.
So just sitting, being still, is not my typical modus operandi.
But how important it is for all of us – in fact, isn’t that the definition of intimacy? Being able to just sit with another person, together but doing nothing, or nothing much?
I realise how little of that these days I do with Nick. How nice it is to do that with someone: just bobble about. Hard though, when you have so much other stuff to do for a person who can’t do it for themselves – I think I am going to have to find a window in our diaries amongst the appointments and the admin, and book in some bobbling about and the intimacy of stillness.