Words Without Envy

The way the year ended was pretty much the way that it started with a trip to the children’s wing of the hospital. Only this time our purpose there was not to admit Lia for what would become a very long and arduous twelve months discovering and treating diabetes, but to visit the children who now, like herself one year ago, were suffering through the holidays confined to a hospital room.

For some time we’d been scratching our heads as to how we could mark the anniversary date of her diagnosis and our thinking at first to be honest — or mine anyway at least — mostly veered in the tempting and frankly much warranted direction of we-can-do-anything in making amends for last year’s depressing celebration. Diabetes could not and would not keep us down. We all having weathered it together deserved something big, something memorable. But like many things in life often the best place to mark such a passage is not carried away with intentional bliss but closing the loop in the very same place where it started. So we shelved all ideas of a personal family statement and made plans to visit the hospital bearing notebooks and pens for the children.

In Walden Thoreau writes of his wood-pile and how during the coldness of winter and the howling windy nights he endeavored to keep a bright fire in his house and also in his breast. Writing too sustained him, as it has me too over these past many mind-numbing, inescapable months. This story-journal has been my wood-pile, my writing the axe, and just as Thoreau could look out through a window and admire his work by the volume of splintered wood chips, I look back over the words that I’ve written and the words of the friends fireside and I find admiration as well. There has been sorrow, yes, and worry and much frustration, but the moments of pleasure and pure wonderment of the grace and the courage of Lia, my family, and everyone touched by disease resonates warmly and endlessly throughout my heart.

There is much to be thankful for. For John and Krista, who have suffered from the lack of attention or too much of the wrong kind of attention and in who I love and would trust wholeheartedly would something tragic ever happen. For my parents and siblings, who have appeared here only occasionally but have shaped my beliefs and actions more perhaps than anyone. For our friends, there are no better companions. You know who are, we love you. For those strangers we’ve met on the way who promised us open arms, not once did you disappoint. Thank you for your attention, your comments and your compassion.

And, of course, there is Lia. There is nothing I could write that would adequately express my love, my pain, and my hope for her. I have tried to be honest in writing about all that has happened this year, the ups and downs, the many new things we’ve learned about each other and ourselves. The truth that’s been steady throughout is this one conflicting opinion: There is no better nor no worse person in the world this could have happened to. She has truly been like an angel.

Especially, I’m thankful for Franca. This year has been trying for both of us, in ways only parents could understand. For most of the day and night we’ve had to shift our focus on where it was needed and that has been costly in terms of being a couple. It would be a lie to say there have not been moments I did not wish to return to the lustful, love or be-damned carefree days of our past. But she more than anyone else has shown me that living without envy is not only possible, but the only way to live life. They say that marriage isn’t a word it’s a sentence. We are, this journey and she have taught me, the better story.

Like everything, there is much that changes in a year. We grow, we discover, we make our own history. We learn what we are made of, and also who we are not. Every day is an opportunity.

As we left the children’s hospital and walked across the street bridge to the parking deck, Lia was feeling especially happy. For her, our visit wasn’t about marking this date of one year with diabetes. It wasn’t even about her. It was about giving back. As she skipped along in the cool sunlight, squeezing my hand, she spoke up and said, “That was nice. Can we do this again next year?”

Little princess, you betcha.

13 thoughts on “Words Without Envy

  1. Hey Steve. I’ve been out of the blogging loop for several months but I’m making my way back in.

    What a wonderful way to mark the anniversary. I wish we’d thought of it. Thanks for sharing.

  2. It is ironic that I am reading this today…our 2 year anniversary. We celebrated with a HIGH reading and keytones this morning. I was crabby and worried this morning, and now that has passed on to my husband since we swapped places and I went to work. These last 2 years have been the most tiring, difficult, and sad of my life. However, I have become a better mother, a more understanding wife, and certainly a cryer! I have met the most wonderful people and I find joy in the most mundane things. This disease is a both a curse and, while not exactly a blessing, maybe something meaningful. Congratulations on your first year. I’d like to say it gets easier, but it doesn’t. You just get stronger, smarter, better.

  3. I am a wife to a Type 1 diabetic and mother to a 2 1/2 year old Type 1 daibetic (and mother to four others). I found you on the Children With Diabetes website. What I’m wondering is, was your daughter diagnosed on December 30, 2009? That is the same day, I woke up, decided my daughter’s symptoms were getting peculiar and used her dad’s meter to test her blood sugar. We ended up spending our New Year’s “celebrating” her new diagnosis. Thanks for sharing your family’s story.

  4. I’v just found time to comment today, Steve. Loved this post and loved the idea of going full circle. Such a great and healing thing to do. The title of oyur blog resonates with me regularly as I struggle to accept (yes, still!) that my reality is so very different from that of others. Your words and your family are very close to my heart. We’ve never met but we know each other. Keep writing. Love to Franca and the children too.

  5. “We learn what we are made of and also who we are not”
    We are within days of our year as well. When I found your blog I was not only struck by your writing style but it felt as though our families were in the same “place” over and over again. Like any before and after moment in life there is a predictable, human reaction to the event. Some have said that one will look back after the first year and realize that all was ok and one didn’t need to be so scared and dizzy with worry…I recently called a woman who asked for contact with someone who had a type 1 child. It had only been a week since her 4 year old son was diagnosed and calling her immediately thrust me back to our first week with Ellie. Pain filled my heart and it hit me a lot harder than I ever thought it would. Talking to her I was calm and told her that all would be ok. I told her to trust herself and learn as much as she possibly could. I told her I knew where she was at that moment and the fear can be so overwhelming. I found myself telling her that she didn’t need to be as fearful as I suspected she was…but to keep a bit of that fear near…some of the fear is a healthy fear of what could be. I was glad I had the opportunity to call her. D makes you a different person and I am no longer the same wife, mother, daughter, friend that I was before Jan 19th, 2010. Only in the last few weeks have I decided that fact was gonna be ok and started to look forward to the new me. I’m a work in progress I guess…who gets the opportunity in life to be a new person? (Well…besides felons! Ha!) Have a happy new year…and yes you ARE required to continue blogging throughout 2011. Thanks!

  6. Thank you for these wonderful thoughts and words. You and Franca and Lia have come so far. I love that you are giving back. Life without envy indeed Steve. Truly wonderful. I am honored to be on this journey with D with you.

  7. This is such a beautiful post- thank you for writing it and sharing your diabetes journey with us!
    You and your family are AMAZING.
    HUGS!
    Kelly K

  8. I’m not a cryer but this post made me cry. I echo what Reyna said about what you wrote in regards to marriage. Having twin babies and being diabetic has made me more tired than I imagined it would and I sometimes feel like a failure of a new wife. Then I look at my husband and see how he is perfectly happy with our crazy life and how he graciously takes over parenting when my blood sugars are out of range and I think that this is the way it’s all supposed to be. Your family is a great example. You inspire me and your hospital trip is a wonderful idea. I’m glad you wrote this post.

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