I love the Olympics. Ever since I was a little girl back in 1984 watching Mary Lou Retton win the gold medal in Los Angeles, I was hooked. I was only 7 years old then and taking gymnastics lessons already. I remember sitting there glued to the TV in our living room...watching her...watching the strength and determination on her face as she ran across the floor, hit the spring board, and vaulted her way to victory. I wanted to be like her. I wanted to grow up and be in the Olympics and win gold just like her. I wanted to have my picture on the Wheaties box of cereal. I remember feeling my heart pound with excitement and pride as I saw her stand atop that podium, gold medal around her neck, the red white and blue on her uniform, and hearing the Star Spangled Banner play over the speakers in that arena. I wanted that to be me one day. Sadly, we all know that never came to be....but it's a beautiful memory that I will never forget for the rest of my life.
Fast forward 28 years...Olympics now in London, England....sitting in my own living room...watching gymnasts perform on tv with my own daughter....she's just 1 year older than I was back then...she's 8. I think I spent more time tonight watching her face...watching her reaction...seeing her excitement and her love for the sport and the Olympics shine through across her face. It was an amazing thing to see. A lot of years have been lived in that 28 year time span.
When it was all over and time for Emma to go to bed, she turned to me and said, "Mommy? If I want to be in the Olympics when I grow up like those girls, can I?" I told her of course...she can do absolutely anything she wants and I would support her the entire way! A dark cloud seemed to pass over her face...and then she said to me, "But none of those girls have diabetes...none of them wear a pump. Would they still let me do gymnastics in the Olympics even if I have diabetes?"...............
My heart shattered as I thought of the magnitude of her question. I find myself sometimes wondering just how often diabetes runs through her mind...just how she feels about it...if she feels like she won't be able to do things because of it...if she feels different...if it bothers her. The look on her face and in her eyes when she asked me that......it was horrible...and it made me sad. Not that average sad we all sometimes get.....but rather a deep aching, helpless, angry, exhausting sad....deep in my heart...and it stung.
So, I looked at my sweet girl's face and told her that yes...she most definitely could do gymnastics in the Olympics....with diabetes...with her pump...she could do it...they would let her...she could do it.....and she could win a gold medal...because with or without diabetes....she is the strongest and most determined little girl I know...and THAT is all you need to accomplish what you want to.
She leaped and twirled to the stairs and made her way to bed....with a smile on her face and that same excited and determined look in her eyes that I had 28 years ago.