Life takes some tough twists and turns sometimes, and I am not going to lie, living with a husband suffering with the debilitating effects of LBD is not one I ever imagined I would  be dealing with. But time away, minus your LBD loved one,  is an important emotional recharger-a necessity for those of us on the front lines of this dreaded disease, facing and coping with its daily challenges with the person we will always love slowly losing his grip on life. Recently, I was  given the much needed gift of time away by my beloved, selfless, and caring family, as they stepped up to the plate to care for Art, so I could get away and enjoy myself without fear or worry, knowing my husband was well cared for by those who love him. For this, I am truly thankful.

Each LBD caregiver has a unique idea of a dream vacation, sans their LBD loved one. For some, it may be simply sitting on a  beach, digging your feet into the warmth of heated, sun-bathed sand, feeling the massaging effects of grains of sand beneath your feet, while watching the roaring waves crash spectacularly onto the shore;  or enjoying the  serenity of a cool  mountain morning, with splashes of sunlight breaking through the magnificent evergreens towering above, as you listen to the glorious sounds of nature singing their joyful songs;  or quietly sitting on the deck of a lakeside cabin, sipping your morning coffee as the water before you seemingly glitters as the break of dawn bursts forth, and you listen to the delicate, lapping caresses of each wave as it rolls rhythmically onto the waiting shore.

My idea of a great getaway? Escaping the hustle bustle of the Boston area to soak in the slow paced life on the moors and  the Highlands of my cherished ancestral homeland of Scotland, where a lilting Scottish accent is music to my ears, and the haunting sounds of the bagpipes are never far away… Castles of my heritage awaited, misty moors were calling my name in the wee hours of the morn; glistening lochs galore, waiting to be explored, instilling a sense of peace and calm like nowhere else on God’s green earth. In Scotland, my story unfolds, drawing me near, claiming my sense of belonging. It’s where the generations of MacRae’s come from. I am a MacRae.

Not exactly a short drive north, I know. But with lowered airfares, and a good friend who was sharing travel expenses, (who turned out thankfully to be a GREAT travel companion) I indulged! Scotland, I do so love you! I lingered twelve long, luxurious days in this glorious land. I traversed wet, wonderful pastures rich with local history; hiked craggy, rocky Highland hills, and picnicked on a stunning hillside of the Isle of Skye, with breathtaking vistas where the sea meets dramatic, razor-edged cliffs; explored the desolate ruins of a once strong fortress on the banks of bonnie Loch Ness, endured the crushing emotions of horrific battlefields where the blood of my ancestors were savagely spilt; savored the tranquility of  lush, emerald rolling hills and astoundingly picturesque valleys. And yes, I visited a Scotch-whiskey distillery, which happened to be named for the highest peak in Scotland, Ben Nevis, where I partook in the tasting of some divine, full-flavored Scotch. But the most pleasurable part of my trip was spending the day roaming the pure, unblemished banks of central Scotland’s  pristine Loch Rannoch, with friends who have lived and worked much of their lives in this charming spot in the Highlands. We were treated to their personal history around Rannoch, which was indeed a special time for me to bask in the warmth and love of their friendship. I am honored that they wanted to share this part of their family’s life with me.

While much of the weather in resplendent Scotland was indeed rainy, or more often, a  misty-filled drizzle, it only added to the inspiring mystery and awe of this amazing land. My spirits never dampened, in spite of my sometimes wet, rain slogged shoes and dripping, plastic pancho. This trip allowed me the freedom to do as I pleased on a stress free level: travel abroad and truly enjoy the sights and sounds I longed to see; some new, some lovingly nostalgic from past adventures. I wish that all who are caregivers  for their loved ones suffering from long-term, debilitating illnesses, the chance to find some personal peace with some time away. To my family, I thank you for my opportunity to refresh and renew. You can not imagine how much this vacation, free from the daily stresses of caring for someone with LBD has meant to me. I have been truly blessed by your generosity. I return ready to resume my duties as caregiver…

But in retrospect, I suspect this has been a mutually beneficial experience, as you will forever have the memories of being there for our family in a time of great need, knowing that you sacrificed your time and energy, and did everything you could to help make the days during my absence a positive experience for all.

Time away is a gift, time away was a blessing.