(Today’s post is written to someone in particular, but my hope is that you can take out the “Daughter” and substitute “son” or “spouse” or “friend” or whatever. It’s not like me to go all Debbie Downer on you, so let’s see how this goes).
Dear Daughter of Mine:
There are all kinds of diabetes days: funny ones (like the time you were hanging from a horse by your pump tubing); silly ones (like the time you were teaching all the little kids with diabetes how to play “pump tag.” I think the other mothers were dying right then and there); scary ones (like the time(s) you had to go to the ER or the time I was sure you were dead at college but you were just taking a nap. I am a mom, after all); happy ones (like walk and gala days); and powerful ones (like the many times you’ve helped out other people with diabetes in so many ways).
Today? Today there is only one way to spin it: diabetes SUCKS. Those who know how dearly I hold my English Lit degree will know how angry I have to be to say something “sucks”. But diabetes – you completely, totally and quite astoundingly SUCK.
It’s hard when you love someone with diabetes. You try to act all strong and say things like “You can do it!” or, “What can I do to help you?” When inside, you’re screaming. I know today, while I listened quietly to you during the long drive after your endo appointment, I was silently freaking out. Not because I was upset with you – all you do is try to live your life. I was upset with diabetes. I was more than upset; I was completely enraged.
And I still am. Because while I try to power you on and support you, I really, truly don’t think there is one thing fair about it.
I told you today how difficult I can see it is, but how amazing you are in every way. You know, there are not a lot of young women who can do the things you do. It’s enough to move far away to a college where you know no one and make a million friends in the first, ummm, minutes. It’s enough to dig into some tough classes right of the bat and do well in them. It’s enough to have the kind of focus that lead you to declaring your major and minor within a few weeks of starting school (Communications and politics with a minor in non profit studies. Hmmmm. How did that happen?) Yep, there are few young women who could do all that with grace.
But you are one of them. And while you may not think so today, you are one of them who can do all that and face down diabetes constantly as well. I’m not just saying this. I know that I do not have the strength, self-assurance and determination that you have. (I will take some credit in raising you but remember: you were the baby in the NICU who got up on her knees and pounded the isolet with her head, forcing them to move you into a crib.) You’ve been making things happen long before I had true influence on you.
This does not make it fair. Just because you CAN face all this down, you should not have to. But for now, it’s here and you must. I wish I could make it go away. I’ve tried throwing money at it, screaming at rallies at it, advocating the heck out of it. But diabetes is still here. So what are we to do?
Because like it or not, this challenge is yours. I can support you. I can love you beyond anything imaginable. But I cannot “ do” diabetes for you like I could when you were little. I hope you know you are not alone. Really cool people, some you know quite well, have been down this road. They’ve struggled. They’ve fought it and ignored it and tried to deny it. They’ve worried about their future but still not had the strength to take charge. Then they’ve gotten up, brushed themselves off and gone back at it again.
I wish with all my heart I could change all this. But it seems, for now, I cannot. So I have to ask you to do what is totally unfair and just be the strongest young woman alive. Is that so much to ask (tee hee)? Reach out to those who have been there. Talk to those who are there like you now. Go at it one day at a time, or one hour at a time. Whatever works. Find a way.
Get up on your knees and smack the heck out of it. Use the tools we have to beat it down for now. Ask for more tools, reach out for more help. We will find you whatever you need to get by (Even if it is yet another Vera Bradley bag to make carrying supplies all the more fun). No way it is easy. No way is it foolproof.
But you are the strongest young woman I know. Diabetes sucks, but don’t let it suck all the awesomeness out of you.