Three years ago today was the worst day of my entire life.
In some ways it seems like it was so long ago. I don’t remember what it feels like to sleep an entire night through. I don’t remember what it is like to let Riley eat without counting carbs. I don’t remember what it’s like not to leave the house without a bag of supplies. I don’t remember watching him run around without worrying that his sugar will drop. It seems like he’s had diabetes for forever.
At least it seems that way most of the time. I just go on with the day to day of living most of the time. Diabetes has intermingled itself into the fabric of out lives. I’ve gotten so used to it being around that most of the time it seems like it’s barely there.
But, as Riley’s anniversary has approach it’s been on my mind more. The winces he makes when I prick his finger are more noticeable. The black marks on his fingertips stand out more. His supply bag seems a little heavier. The insulin in the refrigerator door seems out of place. The tubing sticking out of his waistband is a painful reminder of what he faces every day.
I can’t help but wonder what life would be like if he had never been diagnosed. There is no way to know if diabetes has shaped his personality. And, if it has, has it shaped it for the better or the worse?
Would my family be happier if Riley had never been diagnosed? Or are we happier because we are more thankful for the little things? Would we go more places and do more things? Or are we more determined to do things now than we would have been had he never been diagnosed? Would I be stronger if diabetes had never entered our lives? Would I be weaker?
I’ll never really know the answer to these questions.
What I do know is that I wouldn’t change one thing about my little man. Whether diabetes has shaped his personality or not, I wouldn’t change a thing about him. He’s wonderful and unique. He’s understanding (most of the time) and has a really good heart.
I also know that my family is a happy one. We’ve had our share of ups and downs. And, while my stress level is particularly high right now, I can say I am truly happy. I have two wonderful kids and a husband who loves me unconditionally. Everything else is just icing on the cake.
I feel like we pretty much go and do what we want (or whatever money constraints will allow). I’m not sure if diabetes has made us more active, but it certainly hasn’t slowed us down.
The last question is the kicker. Am I stronger because of diabetes? I know a lot of times I don’t feel strong at all. Sometimes diabetes tries to make me feel weak. Sometimes it succeeds.
Three years ago I cried on a daily basis, not just once, but several times a day. I would lock myself in the bathroom and sob. I would go in to check on Riley before going to bed and while looking at his sweet, sleeping, innocent face I would burst into tears all over again. I can’t even begin to tell you how many nights I cried myself to sleep with my head on Michael’s chest.
It brings tears to my eyes thinking about it. I know he was suffering then too. I was so wrapped up in my own grief that I didn’t really think about what he must be going through. Not only had his son been diagnosed with a chronic disease, his wife had pretty much gone off the deep end.
I know I felt weak then. I remember thinking back then that I had always thought that I was a pretty strong person. Diabetes had shown me how weak I really was. I remember thinking how disappointed I was in myself. I thought I should just be able to snap out of it and move on. I knew I had to be strong for Riley and the rest of my family, but I didn’t know how.
So, I don’t really know how to answer the last question. I don’t know if it even needs an answer. I am who I am. If diabetes had something to do with that, so be it.
Today, I’m just glad we’ve made it to where we are. I am so thankful that three years after the worst day of my life my son is still here. I’m thankful for both of my kids and the rest of my family.
I remember when Riley was first diagnosed I would read posts from other parents talking about how they had “celebrated” their child’s anniversary. I just couldn’t understand how they could commemorate something so terrible. I was convinced than when that day came I would spend my time underneath the bed covers.
The first anniversary was the toughest. But, when it rolled around I realized that I couldn’t sit around and mope. His first anniversary we took him out to a movie. It wasn’t really to celebrate, but more to recognize the day in some way. My heart wasn’t in it, but I was at least going through the motions.
On last year’s anniversary I held Walk of Hope to raise money for a cure. That night we took Riley to a local county fair where he had a blast. I felt that since October 6th was such a significant day that it should be commemorated in some way.
This year we’re going to go do whatever Riley wants to do. This is the first year that I understand why you recognize the anniversary at all.
Tonight I will celebrate. Not because he was diagnosed, but because, three years later he’s happy and healthy. I will celebrate that diabetes hasn’t defeated us. And, I will celebrate that if it has shaped us in any way, it didn’t do such a bad job.