Like many families, the talk this time of year in our house centers around the holidays. School is out and the kids and Franca are home and there is much ado about gifts, food and sharing in each other’s company. It’s a special time, if we can keep it in our hearts (and that means keeping it out of our wallets), that allows us the opportunity to step away from the regular routines of life and simply enjoy the time and attention of the people we love and admire.
Talk also turns to diabetes, or more specifically, those difficult three days right after Lia’s diagnosis. We remember all too easily the rush to the emergency room, listening in shock and disbelief as the nurse explained the procedure for administering an IV, then the anger, and eventually all those emotions giving way to the worry and grief and reality of a threat that will never, ever go away and leave our daughter.
There are a plethora of adjectives I could use to describe the last two years. To list them would show a settling acceptance of diabetes, a path that has taken us from those early disheartening hours to a dutiful tolerance. Questions of how and why rarely come to mind. Only if someone asks do we even revisit the early symptoms or recount those first terrifying moments that greeted us in the ER. Diabetes has become, much like a new family member, a collective part of who we are.
Of course, there is still plenty to aggravate and worry us: the shots, the glucose testing, the danger that in any one moment we might make a mistake in its treatment. But diabetes is no longer the obstinate stranger it once was, and for all of us that’s a good thing.
Amongst the friends and family visits, we are planning, as we did last year, to drop by the children’s ward again today to hand out journals to children in the same situation as Lia found herself: sadly and dreadfully admitted to the hospital over the holidays. A year ago, it was a good experience for us, especially for Lia. This year the mood has changed, however. There is a bit less excitement for it. I’m not sure why that is, except to say that marking this day began as a way to commemorate both her sufferance and Lia’s (and everyone else’s) resilience in overcoming this adversity.
Those things are still important to us, as is spreading goodwill and the charitable news that journaling can help with healing. But like any new acquaintance, with time the newness wears off. You have watched them and learned and discovered the good with the bad and if they are to be important to you, you have grasped what it is about them that allows you to consider them to be relevant, if not a friend.
Perhaps it is that way, too, with diabetes. A familiar thing that cannot be ignored. But is it a reason to celebrate? I don’t know. I am taking my cues from Lia, and this year it seems it is not. She appears just as content and happy to have all her family together in one place for the first time in a long time. And that’s something we all understand.