It has been three years to the day since you came into our lives. I can still remember so vividly my daughter lying on the hospital bed in the emergency room that day and how pale, sick and scared she looked. I was terrified & heart-broken. Overwhelmed by information, sadness & worry – the first few days after the diagnosis was a blur and yet there are certain parts of it that are etched into my mind forever. Like the shirt she was wearing that day. It had brown polka-dots on it and a pink crocheted flower. I still have it, actually. I can’t seem to let it go. Or the way she grimaced as they were checking her IV. Or the smell of her hospital room and the stark white floors with black scuffmarks all over them. She looked so small in that hospital bed and yet I knew she was about to embark on the biggest journey of her life.
I wondered how we were going to tell a little 5-year-old girl who just a few days before was asking for her nails to be painted pink and was having so much fun sliding down the slide at the park near our home – that from that day on she was going to have to check her blood sugar numerous time a day and get four shots a day? I mean, how do you do that?
This picture is her on that slide just a few days before her diagnosis:
I can’t help, but think of how much more simple life was at THAT moment that picture was taken. It always brings tears to my eyes when I see it. I also can’t help but think of how we didn’t how much our lives were about to change just a few days later.
Diabetes, you showed up unwelcome and uninvited. I was angry. I wasn’t sure what the future would look like with you in our lives and I was mourning the life that I thought my daughter could no longer have because of you.
Gone were the days of being carefree. Gone were the days of innocence. You took that from us; from my sweet little girl.
Honestly, some days are still as overwhelming as those first few days. The worry cuts to the bone and aches in my heart at times. The greatest hurt is the hurt that sneaks up on you as you are just going about daily life. It comes out in those simple moments and surprises me and takes my breath away a little bit. I know it’s you reminding me that you are still there.
Trust me. I know you are there.
- I am reminded of you when Caylin wants a snack, but doesn’t want a shot for it.
- I am reminded of you when Caylin has to stop what she is doing (no matter what it may be) to have her blood sugar checked.
- I am reminded of you when I get that question, “Why me, Mama? Why did I have to get diabetes” during the nighttime prayers and then I have to comfort her with tears running down both of our cheeks.
- I am reminded of you when the first thing I think about every morning is if my daughter will wake up. I can’t truly start my day until I breathe that sigh of relief when I see her bouncing down the hall with that big smile on her face and her crazy bed head.
- I am reminded of you in the stillness of the early morning hours when I wake up to check her blood sugar at 2 a.m. I see her sweet face there in the darkness and I can’t help but hurt and cry. The nighttime is the hardest for me.
- I am reminded of you when she feels different than other kids. No parent wants that for their child.
- I am reminded of you every time I go to give my daughter food and I have to measure EVERYTHING, count EVERY carb, account for ALL activity and inject her with insulin.
Yes, there are a lot of reminders of you, but do you know what else I am reminded of? My daughter’s resilience. Her strength. Her bravery. Her good and kind heart when she wants to shield her little brother from what she goes through because she knows it might scare him or worry him.
She makes me SO very proud.
So diabetes, you may be a part of our lives, but remember this – you are only a SMALL part of our daughter. She is so much more than you. I know that as the years go by, she will thrive and succeed. She will be happy and healthy and do SO much despite you being there. You don’t define her. Your presence has made her stronger; it’s made us all stronger.
Oh, and diabetes, if you’re wondering if I am still mourning the life that I thought my daughter could no longer have, that answer would be no. I’m not mourning that life because I’ve come to realize something. She is still living THAT life. It might not look exactly like I had thought that it would, but this life of hers is wonderful and full and blessed. She makes me so proud! What’s not to love about that kind of life?
Today we are celebrating that life with donuts, a trip to Toys R Us and a smiley face balloon.