I picked up Emma a little early from school today because she had a dentist appointment. It was just your run of the mill cleaning appointment and check-up. As we pulled into the parking space in front of the dentist office, I handed her the blood sugar meter to check where she was at just to be reassured that she wouldn't drop low during the cleaning. I shut the car off and listened as I heard the old familiar 3 beeps come from the meter and Emma told me a perfect number. She zipped up the case and tossed it over the front seat in her usual fashion...my kid has no patience for handing it nicely to me for some reason...I think she likes the whole zip and toss move. Anyway, it was all normal...typical...run of the mill...an average afternoon in the life of being a parent.
And then Emma said, "Mommy? I don't even remember what it was like before diabetes."
Just like that....out of the blue...
I was caught off guard...I felt the tears instantly sting my eyes threatening to spill over and drip down my cheeks. It's weird because most of the time I get caught up in the monotony of diabetes and I have built up a huge sturdy wall around my heart to fend off attacks of pain or anguish...sadness and depression from this disease. Every once and a while though, things like what happened today just blast right through and send a shock to my system. It's like a reminder that I don't need and never wanted...a little jolt to that special place in my heart saved for Emma. I heard those words come out of her mouth and it made me sad. I knew that because she was only 4 years old when she was diagnosed that she probably wouldn't really remember those days forever. I knew that as she grew into an adult that those memories of the first 4 years of her life would become more hazy and more surreal until they probably just faded away into an oblivion of nothingness....becoming overshadowed by the constant that is diabetes. I knew it would happen. I've thought about it many times in the past 3+ years. I just never really knew that it would hurt my heart so much to hear those exact words fall from her lips. I never knew that the thought would ever occur to her. I never knew that it would cause me to feel such anger and such sadness. It took all of my strength to stop those cursed tears from falling...from letting her see how much her words affected me...from having to walk into the dentists office with red eyes full of sadness caused by diabetes. I didn't want to have to explain to them why I would have looked sad...I didn't want to have to share...I didn't want to see the pity on their faces...I don't want pity...I don't want the "poor you" and the "aww it must be so hard" and the "oh i'm so sorry!"...I didn't want to hear it. Maybe I am a callous person for writing these things out...maybe not. It's how I feel though. I loathe pity. I have used every single ounce of my strength and ability to teach my child to be strong regardless of what is thrown at her...to be strong in the face of fear...to stand up and fight for what she believes in and for what she wants...to not let anything stop her...anything...especially not diabetes. I have tried to make her understand that it is healthy and perfectly ok to feel whatever feelings she has about her life...express them...get them out into the world...it's ok to ask for help...it's ok to feel weak...it's ok to feel anyway she feels. As for pity though? Pity is not something that I want her to seek or even acknowledge.
So, I took a deep breath...got myself and my emotions under control and realized that yes...she may not remember life before diabetes now...and that is ok. It doesn't mean she is any worse for the wear...it doesn't mean she is lacking in anything...it doesn't mean she is missing out...it just means she doesn't remember...it just means she is growing up right in front of my eyes...and she is becoming more and more of a strong, incredible, loving, and balanced human being.