I saw something amazing today. Emma and I attended a rock wall climbing event put on by ichallenge diabetes. There was a large group of kids with type 1 diabetes all having some fun and proving to themselves that they can do anything regardless of diabetes.
Emma has a fear of heights...like to the point of bursting into tears at the mere thought of going anywhere higher than her comfort zone. She was bound and determined to do this though. She wanted to go have fun, try something new, and face her fears. We are quite a few years into this life with D and it still astounds me to see first hand the incredible depths to a type 1's determination and bravery. They stare fear in the eyes on a daily basis and still manage to smile.
Emma got her harness on and waited in line to take her turn. I stayed a bit behind her...because she is 9 now and I am trying to give her more space and more of an opportunity to shine in her independence. I could tell just by looking at her though that she was having an inner battle with her fear. She had her arms folded across her chest and she was biting her nails. Her eyes were excited and yet terrified. When the time came for Emma to take her turn, she turned back to me with tears in her eyes and said she couldn't do it...she was too scared...too nervous...she didn't think she could do it.
I hugged her and she rested her tear streaked face against my chest. I told her it would be fine...she didn't have to do anything that she didn't want to do. No one would be upset with her and no one would make fun of her. I told her that she could wait...and think about it...and maybe try again in a few minutes. Well, here comes the amazing thing I saw......are you ready for it?......
Standing in line next to Emma was a little girl who is just a few months older than Emma....and she is the sister to a boy with type 1. They are part of a local family that we know and are friends with. This little girl stood there next to Emma and cheered her on....the entire way...from the moment Emma walked up to the wall and put her hand on the first grip...to the halfway point on the wall when she decided that she wanted to come back down again...because it was far enough this time and she was happy with her first attempt. This little girl stood there cheering her on...saying "you can do it Emma! You can do it! You're almost there! Good job! Keep going! WOOT! Way to go! Look at how far you made it! You did awesome!" This little girl gave Emma something that even I, as her Mom, couldn't give her. Sure, I told her how proud I was of her and hugged and kissed her and told her she did a great job.......but this little girl....oh she gave Emma so much more. Our friend gave Emma the confidence she needed...as her peer...as her friend...as someone who can relate to how her life is like now at 9 years old. This little girl gave Emma that special kind of support that only a friend can give you.
By the end of the event, Emma had made it to the top of the wall. She was scared...she wanted to give up on her way up the wall...but she didn't...she faced her fears head on and kept going. I stood at the bottom of the wall staring way up at my extra sweet girl...my heart pounding wanting her to reach her goal...wanting her to not give up...wanting her to truly feel her strength and her determination and her bravery. I wanted her to FEEL it inside of herself. I see it every single day and I tell her all the time....but in that moment, I wanted more than anything for her to feel it and see it in herself.
Well, she did...and I have no words to describe how much pride fills my heart tonight.