Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Lesson I Hope To Remember

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.

9 comments:

Lisa said...

I knew it was coming but still not ready to hear of her passing. Not been a good week but at least she's not suffering anymore.

Busy Bee Suz said...

Oh, this is so heartbreaking. I feel for her. I feel for all of her friends (YOU)
Had YOU known, you would have done something; reaching out to her. BUT you did not. Don't beat yourself up over this. We unfortunately can't be there for everyone...especially when they don't let us in.
Just know that she is at peace and in no pain in heaven.
xoxoxo

George said...

'Being there' for someone is often the very best gift you can give. You don't have to say something, you don't have to do something, you just need to be there when someone is hurting. That's a very valuable lesson.
Keep Joyce with you in the happy memories of your times together.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Don't beat yourself up, Woody... She made the choice to distance herself... She probably didn't know what to do or say. That is a wicked disease.. George's sister's hubby has it --and even though he's still alive, he has no quality of life much left. He's existing.. Who wants that? It's so sad....

We humans all just do the best we can... We also learn from things in life... You are a great friend to many--and always have been...

I am very sorry about your friend's death. I lost a very good friend recently to another wicked disease. It does HURT.
Hugs,
Betsy

Desert Survivor said...

The other commenters said it better than I ever could. So ditto their thoughts and big {{hugs}} to you. We should all go on living the best we can, and your post helps raise awareness in me to look out for those who just might need someone to be with them during hard times.

Linda said...

I'm so sorry about your friend. What a horrible disease! Mine is mild in comparison.

Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog!

Tammy said...

Such a sad story.

Mental P Mama said...

Hugs, lori. Nothing can take the pain away...and those odds are wild....

Snooty Primadona said...

So, so sorry. It's hard losing a friend.

Believe me, I know this lesson all too well. In the end, when my best friend died, I realized that I was angry with her for not letting me be closer & not telling me the truth about her illness. It just doubled the pain of losing her.

Of course, if I ever develop some horrid disease you can be sure everyone will know, since I'll probably blog about it...