Learning to Celebrate Life, Not Dwell in Sadness

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by Carlos Briceño |

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My wife, Jill, and I recently took a road trip. One of the reasons we’d wanted to move to the East Coast of the United States from the Midwest was to live closer to family. So, we were happy to drive to see Jill’s relatives, including her two brothers, her mom, and two of her aunts.

On the surface, the reason for the trip was a sad one. Her uncle passed away last year, but a funeral wasn’t possible then due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Now that some public gatherings are possible, Jill’s aunt held a memorial service in Virginia, 1.5 hours away from where we live now. Her aunt is on her father’s side of the family — Jill’s father was gene-positive for Huntington’s, as are Jill and our daughter, Alexus — and we haven’t seen many of them in over a decade. 

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Jill’s uncle was the kind of guy who didn’t want people to weep that he was dead; he wanted his memorial to be a celebration of life. Though some tears were shed during the amazing eulogies that several family members and friends shared, the mood was happy. Jill’s uncle was a great guy, and people were happy to remember him that way.

To top it off, it was a beautiful, sunny day, with great food and many heartfelt conversations. Jill and I were happy to feel the warm glow of family love.

When we left to return home the next day, we both felt a little emotional. We had lived far away from family for so long that we had almost forgotten how wonderful it was to be around so many of them, even if it was only for a weekend. So we were sad that it had to end. It felt a little like a rain cloud was following us on the trip home. We just couldn’t shake it.

Until …

Alexus called to share that her boyfriend would be proposing to her in a few minutes. They were hosting a party at their home in Boston, and he was going to pop the question in front of several of their good friends. A few minutes later, we got the video of the speech. She looked so happy. Jill and I felt so happy.

Our mood had shifted in an instant. The sun was shining again in our world. 

Alexus’ phone call reminded us that we never say goodbye to family. They are always just a phone call, a video, or a trip away. No matter how close or far away they are, we carry our family’s love and influence in our hearts. Just ask anyone who was at the memorial service. Even though Jill’s uncle was dead, it still felt like he was there. And he was — in our hearts. 

That day, Jill and I learned that Uncle Bill was right: Life is meant for celebration, not sadness.

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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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