See, eight years ago today, Kiley was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Our little, precious, energetic, challenging daughter was desperately ill. We knew at least an hour or so before we were told by medical professionals. She was very sick. She had been developing this for some time, no one was sure how long. I cannot even really put it into words, how it feels as a parent to look at your small child in what seems like a huge hospital bed, and know that their life has been forever altered, by the uttering of a few words.
But, that isn't really what I want to share with you today. That pain, described oh so briefly above, is not what I want revisit today. Today is Kiley's anniversary of her diagnosis. We call it her "diabetes birthday". At first we recognized it simply because we couldn't not forever hold that awful day in memory, we couldn't know when that particular date came. We had to recognize it, deal with it, get through it. But she, and another child newly diagnosed, really changed how we viewed it. He called it his "live-abetes day" because he was LIVING with it not DYING with it. We liked that thought. Kiley wanted to celebrate it with all those things that might have been denied had she developed diabetes years ago - with lots of ice cream!! So, to make a hard day easier, we started to celebrate it. And eight years later, we still do. Now, we have forgotten it once or twice, which tells you how lovely life is. But generally, someone realizes it and we commemorate it. Today we had ice cream and pizza. Kiley had totally forgotten what day it was, two of her siblings were returning from camp, two are still gone on a mission trip, and Dad is in Phantom of the Opera and off performing.
But I remembered. I remembered when I was at the post office and wrote the date for the first time that day.
My heart stood still. It was that day.
I will never forget that day. But what is best of all is remembering all the days since then. Yeah, I try to ignore the bad ones, the days that are real battles against this monster we live with. But diabetes is the disease. Life is what we live. Diabetes is what we take care of, or as we tend to word it - that we beat! - so we can live life well.
Today I celebrate my strong, vibrant, amazing fourteen year old daughter. I celebrate all the hardship she has come through because it clearly has helped to define who she is. I celebrate that she is so determined, and will push to achieve what she wants to achieve. I celebrate that she is a dedicated equestrian, and athlete of high caliber, an actress of great caliber, determined to always give a good show, no matter what. I celebrate that she can be a royal pain in her mama's backside - it tells me every day that she has the strength to get on in life. I celebrate this child who has never given up. Who has allowed us to carry her when she needed it, who is such a strong person to fight back when she needs to, who has the compassion of a saint (most times and always with animals, maybe not always with siblings), who is thoroughly enjoying having two of her siblings home, even though she won't admit it.
I celebrate quietly that her dad and I have managed to keep up the fight and to hide from her, some of the time, our fears. I celebrate that she is who she is supposed to be. I celebrate that while we may not have a cure for diabetes, we do have ways to LIVE with it. And this child is the poster child of that. She lives with it. She is not a "diabetic child", she never has been. She IS a "child with diabetes", though I likely cannot call this amazing young woman a child anymore, but you will allow me that grace, as I AM her mom, and I will always know that she is my child. I have to remind myself at times, a hundred years ago, I would be visiting my child's grave. There was no way to battle it, at least not for long. We may not have a cure, but we have the miracles of insulin, both fast acting and long acting, we have insulin pumps and pen needles, we even have continuous glucose monitors. We have hopes of much research in the works to improve my diabetic kids' health (remember, Aman has type 1 also), and maybe someday even find a cure, though what we have is good. We are so much better off than we were in even the 1990's. And that was while I was in college!!! New things being discovered and refined daily.
"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11