Michael came home from his first day back at school with some disturbing news. All the teachers had to stand up and do the "what I did over the summer" thing. A fellow teacher stood up and announced that her six year old daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes this summer.
Michael talked with her afterwards. Best I can gather she felt lost and scared and overwhelmed. I felt such empathy towards her.
Hearing of this little girl made me think back to those first few weeks after Riley's diagnoses. At first, I was just numb. I think I was in shock for a while. Actually, I know I was. Everything seemed surreal. I was poking my 3 year old with needles every day. That just couldn't be right. But, it was. And, over the first few weeks I had to somehow grasp that it wasn't going away.
Before diabetes entered our lives I had always thought I was a strong person. I could withstand whatever came my way. I had what I call the "nurse mentality". I was very good at being strong and keeping a level head in bad situations. If I needed to cry when the crisis was over, I could. But, those break downs hardly ever came.
After the shock and numbness wore off, I realized the "crisis" in this particular situation was never going to be over. I broke down several times a day. I'd cry myself to sleep at night. I'd sit on the edge of Riley's bed and watch him sleep as his sheets became damp with my tears.
I'd never cried like that before. This crying came from the depths of my soul. Places I never knew existed. I saw no end in site to my grief .
This super woman had found her kryptonite. Something bad happening to my child had incapacitated me. I felt weak and inadequate. I felt like a failure.
That's why when Michael came home with the news about his co-worker, I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I don't know her. I don't even know her name. But, I know how she feels and my heart aches for her and her daughter.
When I went to the mailbox yesterday there was a special envelope. I knew it was coming and as soon as I saw it a huge grin spread over my face. In it was a donation for Walk Of Hope. This donation came from a woman I've never met. I have no idea what she looks like. She lives hundreds of miles away. But, yet, she felt a need to send a donation for our walk.
Why would she do this? Because her son was diagnosed with D when he was 3 1/2. Because she's felt all the same feelings about this disease that I have. Because, she looks into her son's eyes and envisions a day when he won't need insulin anymore.
We parents of children with diabetes have a special bond. I've rejoiced over Daniel's run of good blood sugars. I've cried over Danielle's diagnosis of Celiacs. I've swelled with pride over how Joseph stood up in front of a crowd and shared his experience with diabetes.
As much as I thought I'd lost my strength in the beginning of this journey, I now realize that I only stumbled. We parents of children with diabetes are a hearty crew. We are strong. We don't have a choice but to be. We all stumble occasionally and sometimes we fall. But we pick ourselves up and brush off our knees and trudge ahead for the sake of our children. They are watching us. They need us.
While I wish Riley had never gotten this disease, I am honored to be counted among the Sandras, Vivians, Jamies, Beckys....of the world. We do have a special bond.
But, I still mourn when another parent joins our ranks, because that bond we share is cemented in heartache.