Riley stood in the living room. I had just dried him off from his bath. I was holding his pump tubing up to the light to check for bubbles as I do every night when I put on his pajamas.
My mind was on bubbles and priming. That's when he hit me with one of those questions from out of the blue.
"Mama, how did I get diabetes?"
"What do you mean?"
"You know, how did I get it?"
I explained it to him as I put his pump in his pocket and tucked the tubing into his waistband.
"Well, you got a virus and that virus killed the cells in your pancreas that make insulin. That is why you have to take insulin. It doesn't happen to everyone who gets a virus, just some people."
I looked at my son. His head was hung down and his lips where poked out.
"Why do you ask? Does having diabetes ever make you sad?"
"No." He looked up at me with his big brown eyes and said, "I just wish I could be normal like everyone else."
"What do you mean? You are normal."
"No I'm not. I have to take insulin and wear a pump and that's not normal."
I bit my lips as the tears stung my eyes and threatened to spill out. I took a few deep breaths and gathered him up into my arms.
He sat on my lap with with his pajama bottoms on. He lay his damp head on my shoulder.
"I'm not normal. I'm not normal."
"Yes you are."
"No, I'm not. I'm not normal."
"Riley you are normal. Just because you take medicine doesn't mean you're not normal."
"Is there anything the other kids in your class get to do that you don't?"
"Then why are you not normal?"
"I don't know, I'm just not."
"Does anyone ever make fun of you because you have diabetes?"
I held my breath afraid of what the answer might be.
"You know why? Because they know you're just like them."
He looked deep in thought.
"Mama, do I have to go to bed right now? Can I lay in your lap for a little bit?"
"Yes, for a few minutes."
He got his Winnie the Pooh blanket that he used to have in his crib when he was a little baby. He wrapped up and lay his head in my lap.
I let him lie there for a while while I stoked his hair. My heart ached with love for him and I once again held back the tears that where stinging my eyes.
After a while I tucked him into bed. After his prayers he reached out and gave me a big bear hug, a little bit stronger than most nights, then he gave me a big kiss and another tight squeeze.
"I love you, Mom."
"I love you too baby bear."
I really wish love did conquer all.