Welcome to Empty-Nest World

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by Carlos Briceño |

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If you think adulting is hard, wait until you are empty nesting.

My wife, Jill, and I have a daughter who lives in the Northeast. Five years ago, she graduated from high school and went to experience college life at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We are proud of the hard work she did to get into MIT, which at the time had a 8.01% admission rate.

MIT was Alexus’ dream school when she was first looking at colleges. Jill and I knew it would be difficult for her to get in. We had faith that she is brilliant, but schools like that are super competitive.

But she was accepted. (My joke is that Alexus inherited her beauty from her mom and her brains from me. It’s a joke because Jill was a single mom when I met her, and, you guessed it, Alexus is not my biological daughter.)

Once she got in, the realization hit us: Alexus was going to be 1,007 miles away. How did we let this happen? In all the talks about college, why did we ever let her apply to any school other than the community college located several miles away? What were we thinking? But our baby bird was going to leave the nest, so we did what all loving parents do, and we supported her decision.

Of course, the decision was a terrible one. When we arrived to move her into her dorm, she had already met a few people and had somehow managed to sign up for a couple of clubs. This meant that she felt at home there. We also realized there was a certain pull to coming back “home” during her breaks (and for some reason it seems like college kids spend more time on breaks than in school. I’m kidding, of course. College kids spend more time not studying).

So she came home for the first two years. After that, she started using her “breaks” to travel or intern at different companies to see what she wanted to do after graduation. We also supported and encouraged her to do all that because, you guessed it, we are awesome parents.

She loved Boston, and at some point we knew there was a high likelihood she would stay there after graduation, which she did when she was offered a great job last summer.

We were proud that she was growing up and becoming more independent — a double-edged sword since independence does not include living at home with your parents after graduation.

We went to Boston for her graduation and moved her into her adorable apartment. That was when we felt like empty nesters. With most of our immediate family now living on the East Coast, we knew it was time to figure out how to move closer to them. I don’t mind being Jill’s main caregiver, but it’s helpful to have others around who don’t live hundreds and hundreds of miles away because, ultimately, the best kind of caregiving is done when you’re part of a team. And family is that team.

Since Jill and Alexus were diagnosed with Huntington’s, we decided that visiting Alexus would always be a top priority. Time is so precious and slips away so fast that, until we are able to move closer to the Boston area, we continue to visit each other as much as possible.

It’s sad that they will endure things no one ever should because of their illness, but I love that we figured out that being together as much as possible — and even moving closer to each other — is what will allow us to handle everything Huntington’s throws at us as a family.


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 Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Huntington’s disease.


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