This morning we are settling into our usual old familiar back into the swing of things routine with school and diabetes. Ever since Emma was in junior kindergarten, I have always gone into the classroom at school to change the needle on her lancet every other day....I know, i know...shame on me...I should have Emma change it every time after each poke...but honestly, I think that is a bit much...so we have stuck with our every other day plan instead. (really she only pokes her finger 2 times a day at school anyway, so it's not a ridiculous amount that I am having her reuse the needle.)
Anyway, I walked into the school and down the hallway to her class this morning...just like I have a million times before now. As we were walking, Emma was chattering away next to me (she is SO a morning person...I am not...in fact, I rarely speak at all until I have had my first cup of coffee)...and she mentions to me that a little girl that we know has her picture hanging up in the hallway behind us. Out of respect, I will refer to this girl as H. I assumed that she had done something nice at school and was being honored with her picture on the wall for everyone to see...so I didn't think anything of it really...I just said, "Oh that's so nice!" to Emma and went about the business of changing the lancet needle. As we walked back out of the school to go outside on the playground and wait for the bell to ring, I happened to glance up on the wall and see the picture of H that Emma was talking about. We stopped to read it...I saw that it was a fundraiser for this little girl...she was diagnosed with oral cancer this past May...my heart leaped up into my throat...I felt nauseous instantly...tears stung my eyes as I heard Emma read the poster aloud...as I heard my daughter ask me, "Mommy? it says that H has cancer? How come?" I felt like I was frozen in place...I couldn't make eye contact with Emma. I didn't want to see her wondering eyes...and try to explain to her sweet innocent self that yes...even kids get cancer...even people she knows can get cancer. Our family has known H for at least 10 years I believe...I have seen H grow up right before my eyes...I have seen her play outside on our street...ride her bike...laugh with friends...hug and reassure my daughter when she was about to start school...hug Emma when she was diagnosed with diabetes. She is an incredibly sweet girl. Her family are some of the nicest people I know. She is always showing up at my doorstep with bags of hand me down clothes of hers to give to Emma. She is such a sweetheart.
So, there I stood...wanting to avoid the questions from Emma...wanting to not steal away that part of her innocence already...wanting to say the right thing to her. Being a parent is hard. I took a breath and looked at Emma. I told her that yes it does say that H has cancer which is incredibly sad...but she is a strong otherwise healthy girl...and she is tough...she will be ok. I told Emma that if she sees H at school to give her a hug if she wanted to...but don't treat her or say anything differently to her...she is still the same H...she is just now dealing with something in her life that is difficult, but with good doctors and medicine and the support of friends and family...hopefully she will be ok.
What a morning....