Sara continued to talk and I listened, struggling to absorb what I was hearing. The cry of a mom wanting so much more for her year and a half old baby melded with my tears across the phone line. Together we just let them fall, communing in pain.
Words feel inadquate when the security one has known is suddenly pulled from underneath them. I had nothing to offer but a prayer and not because I was an admirable friend of faith, but because I needed to hear the Lord's Sciptural promises and reassurance just as much for myself. Uncertainty is a difficult place to be.
When the next emergent phone call came, Drew's new baby brother was having breathing issues and needed the oxygen bar at the hospital. "What can I do?" I wanted to know. "Could you pick Austin and Drew up for the evening and John will pick them up later?" "Sure," I replied with the voice of confidence even though I was shriveling with fear inside. Babysitters for this three year old weren't easy to come by. Even with a pump he still needed the occassional finger prick and I knew how to do that. It was time to step up my game.
The kids frolicked in the back yard while we prepared supper. My husband stood at the grill while I washed grapes and smiled at their laughter. Until the laughter broke. A quick glance out the window revealed a grinning Drew peeing in the yard. "Why does he want to be a dog?," Grace and Hannah wanted to know, thinking like all girls that every unstructured moment is meant for playing house. Trying to contain our laughter, Charlie and I retreated into the kitchen before expressing the hilarity of the moment. He fetched some fresh princess underwear - the best we could do in a house full of girls - and I put all the food on the table.
And that's when it sunk in. Watch him close, Melissa. Every bite counts.
Unfortunately, none of the children were very interested in eating. Warm weather and summer games awaited them on the other side of the sliding glass door and nutrition pales in comparison through the eyes of wee ones. On the fly, we made up the eating game. One kid chooses a number, we count to that many, and take a bite. It seemed like a fine combination of math + fun and worked. Only I didn't takes my eyes off the brown haired boy. Twelve grapes. He's had 12 grapes. I hoped that what we were feeding him was helping him. Afterall, in the world of diabetes, even healthy foods aren't always good.
He finished and I took his tiny little finger in mine. Taking out the needle, I punctured his toddler skin and induced a moment of pain before the bright red blood appeared. Not a fun job for a friend. Not a fun job for anyone. Please don't let him hate me.
My detailed eating report to Sara was met with her usual calm. The disease had quickly made her a math genius and she computed the carbs with precision. Quickly and carefully, I pressed the buttons on his pump, which Drew affectionately called his backpack, and excused him from the table.
Back outside before I could blink, the kids returned to play and I exhaled. Apparently in my focus I'd forgotten to breathe.
Loosen your grip, my child.
God's message wasn't met with a calmed heart. How was I supposed to chillax when even the greatest of medical advancements was an imperfect science in a growing boy and crisp white hospital sheets sometimes necessarily wrapped his body burrito style?
I am here.
What is right about a mom being called multiple times in a day to her kindergartener who is running high, giving him extra shots, holding him through tears, and then sending him off to music?
I am here.
How brave is a boy that lives each day with this as his "normal" while he and his diagnosed type one father await a cure?
I am here. Loosen your grip. He is in mine.
I watch this family from the outside but am struck on the inside. My admiration swells for his parents who can have him in a room of many but treat him like the rest. Not obviously staring at his twelve grapes or losing the ability to keep laughing about human lawn fertilizer. And that funny, energetic boy? His bravery puts a whole new face on childhood courage.
So today we wear blue for Drew and his dad, John, and all the other type one diabetics who remind us that tranquility isn't found in human control, but in the trust of an ever-present God.
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