When my son was first diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, I’ve talked about how overwhelming it all was for us. So fast, so chaotic, and such a sense of urgency unlike anything we had experienced before. There was no time for learning curve. It felt as if we had to know EVERYTHING right away, and we didn’t really have the best teachers so we spent a lot of our time researching, reading, talking to other parents, and just doing what we could to find our footing.
The best doctor’s we knew of were in Dallas and we HAD to get our son there so we sacrificed. We sold things, everything nearly, and we had friends and family throw our belongings in a truck and we packed up our, then, 2.5 year old and twin 13 month olds and off we went. Talk about nuts. Bag-O’-Cat’s-Crazy kind of nuts. As we made a plan and pushed forward to reestablish our lives we found a new church home, began building a new house to live in (hilariously now I laugh that we called it our “forever home”). I stayed constantly busy with builders, doctors, packing, financing, doctors, kid stuff, doctors, etc. And while you'd THINK we'd be relieved to just BE in Texas you'd be surprised.
You see, moving into the new house only proved to shine a blaring light on what we sacrificed to get to that point. All the things we sold. The innumerable things that were ruined and/or left behind in our move. Each box I would unpack I would find something broken or water damaged. Furniture scarred and foodstuffs had to be tossed. Our first night in the new house, we had to drop hundreds of dollars that we had not planned just to have sheets and pillows and blankets and shower curtains etc. But it was done. It was ours. And we were grateful for it. I remember VIVIDLY coming downstairs that first morning to have cup of coffee and declaring the stair landing as my favorite spot in the house. I could hear the upstairs noises, and SEE the downstairs calm. The morning sun streaming in the back windows made for a picturesque setting each day. But there was a darkness there too. A sullen feeling, a fear…it was invisible and yet it was nagging at me. I couldn’t figure out what it was or why I couldn’t just fully breathe that cleansing sigh of relief I was waiting for. It finally took speaking to a marriage mentor couple at our church to pinpoint what I was feeling.
This husband and wife team had been trained for years to work with other couples thru marital shifts and changes. I made the appointment determined to make sure our marriage was intact and my dutiful husband knew better than to disagree with me. They sat us down and began to ask about our story, what brought us to them. As we unfolded the previous 3 years they were silent. Dumbstruck with jaws on the floor. When the wife finally spoke, she said, “you haven’t even had time to grieve yet have you?”
When she said the words out loud it was as if she spoke lightening down from the heavens and flattened me. I looked at her confused and asked, “Grieve What?” And she just reached over and grabbed my hand and said “You have not even had one second to grieve the loss of the healthy child you had dreamt of.” And with that, my world was suddenly unravelled. That nagging darkness in the back of my mind wasn’t sadness from ruined furniture. I wasn’t mourning the loss of my wedding shoes due to water damage. I wasn’t disappointed at the lack of ‘things’ we now had. I was heartsick over the reality that we had to leave behind a lifetime of dreams for the healthy boy we knew….and reshape our world around the reality of the boy we now had. I’m still letting that one sink in. In fact, it’s been hitting me so hard that it left me a ball of sobbing tears.
My son is amazing, a rockstar, and lately the ringleader of tiny home-bound tyrants bent on household domination. But he is now and forever a Diabetic. Make no mistake, as awesome as his life is and will be, and as impactful as we know his presence on this earth will be….he will be saddled with this disease forever. I’m still trying to really cope with this one. If he wants to play sports….GREAT. If he wants to be in a band or sing or do art …GREAT. If he decides that science and math are his future and he wants to go into some brainiac field….GREAT. If he likes cars and wants to be a mechanic and open his own shop….GREAT. He can still do all those things. He can do ANYTHING he wants. But not without his insulin pump…and sugar kit…and glucagon pen….and lots of water to stay hydrated…and snacks to keep him balanced..and…and…and.
Is it a BAD thing that he’ll have to be extra careful, no. Does it make him less. NO! And if I catch anyone saying it does I’ll sharpen my mama bear claws on their backside! But the reality is, Type 1 Diabetes has no cure. He won’t outgrow it. He won’t get better. In fact, despite our BEST efforts he could well get worse. And while we try not to live in fear for what those outcomes could mean for our sweet boy…there is a certain level of grief to be felt.
He won’t ever aimlessly graze thru my kitchen after school. Gone are the dreams of him coming home from college and mindlessly eating our fridge bare or going out with the guys for pizza unscheduled. Gone are the days when we send him OFF to college and pray he just passes his classes and doesn’t drink himself stupid. NOW the days come and we will be praying he remembers that middle of the night blood sugar check…and hoping he has a circle of friends that know what to look out for if he begins to drop too low too quick. Or at least know enough to tell him to lay off the beer, try Vodka instead it since it has less carbs. It’s okay though, he will be fine. MOMMY may be a basket case, but let’s face it….I may have been anyway.
It’s another part of my nature I didn’t know I had. An ability to love deeper than I thought. An ability to panic darker than I knew. An instinct to protect stronger than I know possible. And now….I’m learning, a little, about my ability to pray and let go.
It’s not easy and honestly it’s more my husband’s nature than mine. I can only follow my son around checking his blood sugar so much before I must pray and let him go play. I can only cry over this falls pre-k applications so much before I must pray and let go. I can only grieve so long before I must….at some point….pray to let that go too. I’m not there yet. My first big wave of grief really just hit me in the past few weeks. I’m still trying to find a way to lean into it and then let it go….it’s tough. But I know in my heart that God didn’t give me these children only to not also give THEM the mother He had planned for them. God clearly thought I was the mom for the job so if HE thinks I can do it…..right???
And it’s like my good friend Andy the handy-dandy missionary says (he is SO gonna hate that I called him that…hahah), “God’s ways are always better than our ways. He will never give us more than we can handle, but He sure does stretch and bend us sometimes. Finding joy in times of trial is so hard to do, and doesn't even make sense to me sometimes, but I know that on the other side of the trial my faith in God is stronger.” So fine God. Your ways ARE better and you have carried us through so much already so fine. Help me find my big girl panties and my boot straps. Help me now, Lord, to stiffen my upper lip. SHOW ME THE JOY in all this Lord while I rummage around and dust off my resolve. Be gentle as you stretch and bend me Lord, you did make me this way afterall. AND FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY give me the courage to once again, wake up to a new day with the courage to look diabetes in the eyes, roll up my sleeves, and growl…. BRING. IT. ON!