In middle school and high school, I had a good friend named Joyce Muse. She had a flair for life, for living. She could take some of the most unrelated articles of clothing and create a fabulous outfit. She had a contagious laugh. She could burp the alphabet:) She had a smile that would light up a room. The day my high school boyfriend died in a tragic accident, she came to my house and laid in the bed with me. Holding me, comforting me...for hours and hours. She was very special.
Joyce also had a father that had Huntington's disease. This meant that she had a 50% chance of inheriting the disease. After doing genetic testing, it was determined that her mother was also a carrier of the disease. This meant Joyce had a 100% chance of inheriting the disease.
Joyce passed away last week. From complications associated with Huntington's. She was 43.
When Joyce received the news of what her future held in store, she went a little crazy. As anyone would. She was angry at the hand she had been dealt. Once the reality set in, she very methodically went about distancing herself from everyone. She broke up with her boyfriend, saying that she did not want to saddle him with having to care for her as her health declined. And she definitely was NOT going to pass the gene along to any children they might have! Next, she went about distancing herself from everyone else. She moved away. Stopped communicating. She made sure that she was very, very alone.
In the intervening years, both her parents passed away. I, like most of her friends from high school, went about living life. In all honesty, I really didn't know what she was going through. I didn't learn the facts about her father's disease until years and years later. And I didn't realize that the distancing was a choice she had made in an effort to 'protect' us from what she thought would be a burden. Stupidly, I just thought that life had pulled her away.
Thankfully, Joyce had one friend that would not let her be alone. Til the end, this friend was by her side. I wish I could say that this friend was me. I wish I could say that I held her, just as she had held me.
I hope Joyce has taught me a lesson. Well, I hope she has taught me many lessons. But mainly, I hope she has taught me to be a better friend. One that will always be there. Even if just to lay by your side holding your hand.