Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It’s Our Anniversary and We’ll Cry If We Want To….Just For A Minute And Maybe Not Even Today.

Today, on this exact date and time, six years ago, our beautiful youngest daughter was receiving her diagnosis of type 1 diabetes.
She was three years old.
Since she was just a little babe, she barely remembers any details with the exception of her long hospital stay, enjoying a “first” bowl of chili and meeting some very nice airplane pilots – which at this point in time might even have become urban legends in her mind.
The rest of her story is in my memory bank, where I keep it close at heart.  Someone once said ‘faded but not forgotten’ as a memory analogy and I think that applies to me as well.  I am healed.  She is healed.  Together we move forward with the memory safely tucked away.
The truth is on this particular day; I may or may not have even a bit of sadness. 
Because really, this day is just another day on the calendar.   
Especially after six years.
Still, the sad moments come when I least expect them.  Like when I am alone with my thoughts (usually driving down the road – I know, I know but that is when it happens) and my thoughts run a bit wild.  A song will come on the radio or I’ll see the old pediatricians office and sensory experience triggers the diagnosis  all over again.  Then, yes I will admit, sometimes, a fresh wave of tears burns the back of my eyes and it is all I can do to stifle big, giant sobs.
And then, almost as quickly as it started, the rush of sad feelings triggered by that memory is gone.  Sometimes, even replaced by a little bit of laughter at feeling overly dramatic. 
After all, we are doing just fine these days.
But as I have explained in our history of having both of our daughters diagnosed during this time of year, as soon as the date of one diaversary comes along, I immediately think ahead to the impending date of our second diaversary, the one for our beautiful oldest daughter.
In the beginning, facing two diagnosis dates just four days apart wasn’t merely daunting,  it was deeply depressing as well.
The hardest part is in the fact of knowing that our oldest daughter clearly remembers her life leading up to age 8, without pokes and prods and counting and living with type 1 diabetes.
She remembers that day in the family car and feeling so strange with her first low blood glucose.  She remembers seeing her father and I try to pretend bravery while hiding our tears.  She remembers wondering for a second if I had it all wrong (even though I explained when her sister was diagnosed) and diabetes meant DIE-abetes. 
Hearing our oldest daughter talk so candidly about her diagnosis is often another sadness trigger for me (and us both, I think).  My chest feels overly heavy and I have to swallow back the lump in my throat, digging even deeper for that endless strength.  I can only assume that she feels a little bit of this too.  At eleven, she is only beginning to understand and be able to put words to her deepest feelings.  Time will tell on how she continues to view that time in her life.
Even so, her conversation will probably not be about diabetes this week…   she rarely feels the need to discuss it at length now.   She is no longer the scared, skinny little girl that once overly worried about it all.  She has healed too.  With many of her diagnosis stories, she also remembers a funny tidbit and will quite often take the story from the brink of despair to a million little giggles – like coming up from the low by eating everything on everyone’s plates. 
When I look at her studying and dreaming of big things to come, I know that she is doing just fine these days, too.
What I hope that I am teaching them is the ability to embrace all of the emotions as they arise and not because they are dictated by a calendar date;
 – Unless they want to.
Because that is the choice we all have.  Freely living and embracing our emotions as they come or stifle them, tucking them away and dealing with the consequences.
Choosing the first option, I believe, has helped us all heal… and will continue to help us heal because as we all know, type 1 diabetes changes as we change; from toddler to teen to adult.  Coping strategies help to make or break the ease to which change occurs.
And so here is my plan for this year’s diaversaries… I think I will simply snuggle my girls close, reflect for a moment (only if they want to)and then enjoy whatever activity they would like for the evening.
But if it is Nerf Darts again, I better find a hiding spot now!


Scott K. Johnson said...

Diaversaries are a weird thing, aren't they? Like, why would we want to mark the date of when something like diabetes entered our lives?

I know we're all different. I choose to celebrate mine with a pat on my back and a nod to all of the hard work I've done over the past year to take good care of myself. Knowledge and experience gained, and another year of working hard.

That's worth a little something in my book.

Sending you guys all my love and support.

Naturally Sweet Sisters said...

It is an odd moment isn't it? I like how you celebrate and I think it is great to take a moment to allow all of the satifisfaction of being an AWESOME artificial pancreas for one more year... It also makes me smile knowing that YOU are the one celebrating. I hope my girls take that same care and pride someday. Thanks for being such a great friend!!!