If you are anywhere on the internets where the Type 1 diabetes community lives, you heard of Friends for Life this past week. If you weren’t you need to listen up. Because really, Diabetes Mom Stacey Nagle has it right when she calls it the “Woodstock of diabetes.”
The love, the excitement, the entertainment, the bonding and yeah, the tears and the hoots and the gasps and the high fives and more; it all adds up to one heck of a week.
How to put it into words? I’m still taking it all in. But I do want to share some moments in time that just stand out to me from FFL: The Woodstock of Diabetes. (Warning: these are all kind of personal and about my take. My next blog on FFL will not be so much about me. Just really want to share).
Speaking: This is not a lie. When the folks who run Friends for Life asked me – almost a year ago – to do their opening Keynote Talk at FFL 13, I said this, “What? Can’t you get someone good?” To which they replied, “That’s why you are the best choice.” (That makes it sound like they all said it at the same time. And like, in harmony. It was really a group email but I just thought it was fun to imagine them singing it like a barbershop quartet. Ummmm: Moira? Focus! Okay, I will.) So anyhoooo …. I was really kind of wickedly touched and humbled and freaked out and excited to do this talk. And I loved that they wanted a “regular mom” to do it.
I speak a lot on diabetes issues in a lot of places. But the idea of having the chance to set the tone at FFL as it began was just – incredible. So the morning came and I was ready (husband helped pick my earrings … we’re never going to cure diabetes with the wrong accessories). (My hair came out semi flat. We’re never going to improve lives with icky hair. Ha!) I walked into the room before anyone else and looked around. It was HUGE. I’m more of a “look you in the eye” speaker, but I felt ready.
Okay, I wasn’t perfect. I spoke too quickly and missed a couple of points I really wanted to make. But I felt …. Connected. I mean like to every person in that room. It was an incredible gift to be given, and I will forever be thankful to Jeff, Laura and all of the FFL team for giving me that thrill.
I got lots of hugs from it too – all week long. Awesome. Thank you, FFL, for that gift.
Camp Call out: In my talk I, of course, brought up the Clara Barton Camp for Girls With Diabetes and asked if anyone in the audience was here from there. Two people stood up. I looked out and realized that while I could not recall their names, I’d seen their photos in a camp newsletter. They were campers who had met there and married! I announced that and everyone cheered. Later in the week the couple told me they were like celebrities all week, with everyone finding them to wish them the best. So cool! It is amazing how that kind of magic just happens organically – and over and over – at FFL each year. Thank you, FFL, for making their wedding year even more awesome that it already was.
Meri: Need I say more? She’s the bomb-diggidy, and the epitome of grace, courage, humor and just plain awesomeness. Ditto for Kelly, Sarah, Christina and so many others. I’ll be honest here: I don’t really feel like I’m an insider at FFL. Yet. But maybe some day … and these folks are worth even just getting a few moments with here and there.
When I ruined the fundraiser and then the FFL gods of all that is magic helped me fix it: Yeah, so there was this awesome fundraiser for the Diabetes Scholars Foundation on Saturday night. (And if you did not go: next year. Really. Don’t miss it). Part of the night’s fun was one of those fundraisers when they sell 100 wrapped jewelry boxes and one has some posh, expensive bling in it. In this case, they all had a glucose tab but the winner had a small note that said “winner.” They sold all but about 12 of the boxes, and had everyone open them at the same time only to find that … a winner was not found (well only two of three were but I’m editing for time here). So they decided to charge two times more for the remaining boxes, and call each person who purchased one up on the stage (knowing one of them has a winner in it – sparkling and expensive emerald earrings). One of those up there was a lovely little girl with T1D. So they all open them and … no winner. The room is confused.
Then I looked down.
Oh, criminy. Or rather, in my head: Oh #$%&^*(&*(!!!!
I had won. I just had not seen the small “winner” note.
The MC saw my face and said into the mic “Moira! Did you win?”
I Wanted. To. Die. Not only had I ruined the raffle, I’d forced all those people to give more. Everything stopped for a moment, and then I felt something pulling me up toward the stage. I’m sure people were thinking “Oh, she’s getting her prize,” but a voice was telling me what to do.
Give the “winner” ticket to the little girl. Just do it.
And I did. And that little girl – all of maybe 9 years old, felt like a true princess. I saw her the next morning—she had slept in the earrings. She ran over, hugged me, held her wrist up to her ear and said “See? They match my wristband.”
It was meant to be. Me – bumbling, mess-things-up and check-your-contact-prescription me was a vessel, a FFL vessel for a magical moment to happen.
I’m sorry, but I’m glad I screwed up. It was meant to be. And I’ve never felt better about bling in my life.
Pool Session: FFL was wrapping up. We’d just done a giant synch swimming thing in the pool and I was bobbing around looking for people to take me on in an underwater handstand competition (one of two of my only true talents). A woman approached me and said “Can my friend and me pick your brain for a moment?” I said sure (Okay I made them watch how awesome my handstand was first. No lie.) and we started talking. About raising kids with D and about teens and D and about how to handle all of us. As we spoke, our circle got bigger and soon, we were about a dozen or so strong, there in the middle of the hotel pool, holding an impromptu FFL session. It was incredible. We were comfortable there, in our suits and in the pool. We laughed, cried, shared and debated. We came up with ideas to help one another. We bonded. We did everything FFL is supposed to do – right there in the summer sun. That’s how it works. I almost want to pitch a pool session next year. With handstands though.
So those are my takes so far. I left for home feeling blessed and honored (I won’t go into how amazing my book signing felt. Okay I will. I seriously thought maybe two people would come. There was a line all night and I got to chat with every single person. I am the luckiest gal alive).
I headed to FFL expecting a lot. I can home with even more. The Woodstock of Diabetes rocks the world.