Moving Is Hard, but Job-hunting With Huntington’s Is Harder
I learned a new recipe for the overwhelming chaos known as moving.
Take a dash of living out of several suitcases. Now, add that to living in someone else’s home. Top it off with an old dog and slippery wooden floors with stairs. Serve it with a glass of feeling overwhelmed at my super busy job, and you will enjoy the moving chaos that my wife, Jill, and I have been experiencing.
As we settle into my brother-in-law’s home in Maryland after our recent move from the Midwest, a lingering issue hangs over Jill’s head. This issue, which involves her deciding on her future plans and job as someone who’s gene-positive for Huntington’s disease, will never go away.
Before I get to that, I want to share some good news. My brother-in-law’s home is nice and big, and now that he’s started a new job out West and brought his daughter with him, the house is officially “ours.”
Jill and I have set up our little world downstairs in the recreation room, and we sleep in the spare room, which is also downstairs. Our old cocker spaniel, Baby Girl, is adjusting, too, as it’s not easy for her to walk on the wooden floors or up and down the three flights of wooden stairs.
In other words, she slips a lot. And she barks a lot, especially when she doesn’t see one of us close by. She’s definitely feeling uneasy and anxious about living in a big home, far from the apartment we used to live in.
Despite the chaos, Jill has been busy making the house feel more like our home. She’s organizing everything, starting by cleaning out all of the food in the home’s two refrigerators. She then went to work on the rest of the kitchen, throwing out items that have expired or that we don’t eat, filling up several dozen garbage bags in the process.
Jill is a hard worker and rarely complains. When she does, it’s usually in the form of a funny story, but sometimes she needs to share something deep.
This past weekend, as we sat down to eat, she looked at me with her big, beautiful eyes and said something I don’t often hear from her. “Carlos, I’m overwhelmed.”
After telling her I felt the same way, I said that unpacking and moving was a lot. And because I’ve been working 12 hours a day, six days a week since I moved here, I was sorry I couldn’t help her more.
Jill looked at me and said, “I can deal with all of the moving chaos. That’s not what’s overwhelming me. I tried to update my résumé today and just couldn’t do it. I broke down in tears.”
I knew the answer, but still asked why.
Her answer was simple. She said it’s been 11 years since she looked for a job. Eleven years ago, she was younger, sharper, and Huntington’s hadn’t started to manifest itself in the little ways it now has, such as the slight twitching in her eyes and toes called chorea, and a decrease in her mental sharpness. She wonders how HD will affect her once she gets a new job.
I hugged her. What could I say to that?
She didn’t need me to say anything. She just needed a hug.
As hard as moving has been, Huntington’s is even more difficult. The disease forces you off a cliff, and there’s nothing you can do as you fall.
As I hugged her, I closed my eyes and thought, Jill will cut through the chaos, one day at a time, and she’ll figure it all out because she’s the toughest person I know.
This hope is what keeps us going.
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