Looking back on that day I had no idea what was really in store for us. I knew it was going to be hard, but I couldn’t fully comprehend just how achingly hard it would be. All I knew was how hard it was to stick my child with a needle or how hard it was to tell him he couldn’t eat or drink something. I know now, that was the easy part.
I now know the hard part is the fear. The fear of waking up one morning and finding him dead in bed. The fear that I’m really not strong enough to handle it; that I have no clue what I’m doing and that instead of helping him I’m really harming him. The fear that one day he will rebel against this disease and just stop managing it at all. The fear of blindness, limb amputation, kidney failure. The fear that there will never be a cure.
For six years I’ve been carrying around these fears. The pain from this fear isn’t as stabbing as it once was. It’s softened around the edges, but it’s still there. And, I suppose it always will be. I’ve learned to live with it, not to let it rule my thoughts like it once did. Yes, it’s brought to the forefront from time to time, like when I hear of another child whose life was cut short by this terrible disease. But, for the most part it sits quietly in the back of my brain.
Every year we “celebrate” Riley’s anniversary. We go out to the restaurant of his choice and for an activity. This year it is Sappari and bowling. People often don’t understand how we can celebrate such a thing. I once felt that way too. But, we are not celebrating that he got diabetes. We are celebrating that it hasn’t beaten him. We are celebrating that he is free from complications, that he’s never been hospitalized, and, basically, that he’s living and breathing. Not just living and breathing but having a wonderful time doing it.
I celebrate the fact that he can still participate in any activity he wants. He is so happy. He loves life. He loves his video games and his big brother. I celebrate the fact that while this disease has left scars on his body, it has not left scars on his heart or his soul. And, if anything, this disease has made him a better person, a more compassionate person.
And, I celebrate all that it has taught me. I believe there is a lesson in anything if you just look for it. I’ve learned that you can chose to be happy or you can chose to be miserable, right where you are. The situation you are in may not be optimal. It may not be what you always dreamed of. But, it’s where you are. Make the best of it. I’ve learned not to take anything or anyone in your life for granted. Tomorrow they may not be there. Don’t take anything for granted that you have right now, not your health, not your family, not your relationships. Six years ago I thought I could never ever be happy again. I’ve learned not to look towards the future for my happiness, but to look right where I am right now.
Right now is really all that I have. And, right now I have a little boy with the most beautiful brown eyes I’ve ever seen. He’s happy and, by God, he’s healthy. He’s got an insulin pump tethered to his side and a huge smile on his face. And, right now, that makes me happy.
“To get up each morning with the resolve to be happy... is to set our own conditions to the events of each day. To do this is to condition circumstances instead of being conditioned by them.” Ralph Waldo Trine