Rated: E · Short Story · Other · #2106007
“I don’t know. I didn’t think I’d live this long.”
It had been eleven years since her diagnosis of Huntington disease. She had mentally prepared herself for the years to come on that warm spring day when the doctors explained why she had been feeling drowsy and sad, along with the crazy muscle movements that came at the most inconvenient times. After googling her recurring symptoms, she read all about this lethal disease called Huntington's, paying close attention to the life expectancy. “10 to 20 years after onset.” She was only 37 and her youngest child was still in elementary school. She hid her symptoms for weeks. In efforts to protect her family, she started her medical journey alone. Visiting doctors from all over the state while the kids were at school and using the emergency credit card for copays in order to give herself time to break the news. She used this denial as an excuse to keep from hurting her kids and husband. The forgetfulness and sporadic movements became too much to hide after three short weeks. Little did she know, her oldest son did his own Mayo Clinic research and knew his mother's fate. He too held in his knowledge. She made dinner that night as normal, called the kids the table, and hesitated when passing around the first dish.
“Mommy needs to talk to you guys.”
Her husband's face froze. He knew of the disease, his best friend growing up lost his mom to it in the tenth grade. He looked at his daughter from across the table. She was in tenth grade. The next few weeks to follow were full of silent dinners and quiet whispers when mom would drop a plate in the kitchen.The doctor visits became more frequent than grocery shopping. Her kids were losing focus in school, busy researching the disease. Her husband took time off work to help, but she would only lash out against him when he tried to relieve her of housework or school runs. Her strong will was what made him fall in love with hers.
The rest of the year dragged on. Her denial turned into acceptance. She started to lose her ability to dress herself around November. She remembers the awful outfit her husband picked for Christmas Eve dinner at her sisters. The years started to blend together. The two oldest kids graduated from high school and went to colleges around the state. She would FaceTime them every Sunday and the words began harder to understand. She could no longer brush her teeth or walk without her husband's arm. Her husband was the one to worry about after year four. He was no longer smiling when people asked how she was. There was no more positivity in the house. He was her primary caregiver and he was struggling with his own sanity. The youngest moved away. Mom was ready to go, she told her husband every night. His hair started to turn gray and he thought of the life he wanted. He remembers dreaming of growing old with her and visiting their kids in their one bedroom apartments on the weekends. One winter morning, he left his wife with the neighbor to run to the store to get milk. The road was slick with ice and he was not paying attention when a small red car ran a stop light. The wives sister arrived to the neighbors house many hours later, coming to break her the news. She was her brother in law's emergency contact and the sick wives new caregiver.
“Did he find someone new at the grocery store?” she joked, when she saw her younger sister at the door. The neighbor and her were waiting for hours.
Her younger sister took over her laid husbands responsibilities and moved her into her brand new, four bedroom house with her two young children and husband. The adjustments were hard but she could barely remember the hour before anyways. After moving all her belongings into her new bedroom, her sister asks her “now what?”.