But from time to time, we do talk about it. The other night, Jill used a phrase that indicated why she is so at peace with such a terrible disease.
“It’s inevitable,” she said, referring to the fact that there is no cure for it, and thus, HD will cause her to suffer in the years ahead as it ravages her mind and nervous system.
The conciseness of the phrase, the way she said it (as calmly as if she’d said, “It’s sunny out”), and what it signifies have taught me an important lesson: Acceptance means focus.
Let me explain.
I have X amount of energy and time during the day, so what I choose to focus on demonstrates what is important to me. I have known some people who focus on what could or should have been or what they believe is unfair in life. It’s so easy to complain. It’s so easy to play the victim. I know I have done this at times.
But is that how I want to be remembered? Is that why I was put on Earth? I would rather be seen as someone who radiates joy and light. I would rather live an abundant life, and I’m happy to report that this is how Jill lives.
She inspires me with this attitude. She reminds me that there is a better way than to focus on what is wrong in life. She shows me how high the bar should be set. For her, being alive means focusing on what is important, which is loving her family and putting her whole heart into showing how much she cares for others.
For instance, she doesn’t like to bake. But she is famous — and I’m not kidding when I say “famous” — among our friends and co-workers for her brownies. They are so delicious that it is not uncommon for one of them to ask her, “When are you making brownies again?” Several of them even tell her when their birthdays are “in case you want to make me brownies.”
(For the record, her brownies are not “special brownies.” Many people have asked her for the secret recipe. So far, she has refused to divulge the ingredients to them. I know what the recipe is, and even if I’m tortured, I will not reveal it. However, for a large sum of money, I will tell you exactly how to make them. Also, for the record, she never makes the brownies to enjoy them; she is allergic to chocolate.)
Even my co-workers have been the recipients of her brownies. I work for the Catholic Church, which explains why one of the recipients includes the former bishop of the diocese I am employed in. He is now retired.
He was in town recently, and he knows that she has Huntington’s disease, so he asked how she was doing. After I told him, he said she continues to be in his prayers and then added, with a smile, “Tell her she still makes the best brownies I’ve ever had.”
You have to realize that the last time he had them was the last year he was in charge of the diocese, which was 10 years ago.
It takes time to make brownies. It takes time to buy the ingredients and whip them together and bake them and make sure they are just right. Jill focuses her attention on them because she knows how much joy and pleasure they bring to people. Rather than take that same amount of time to complain, she focuses her time and energy on others.
Every time she does this, I am reminded of how grateful I am that she is who she is. I also appreciate how she is teaching me that a strong focus on giving — showing love rather than complaining — brings joy and leads to an abundant life.
Note: Huntington’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Huntington’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Huntington’s disease.
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