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“Someday, you will never want to change what has happened to Joshua,” my friend Joyce (of blessed memory) told me as she and I stood outside my son’s hospital room.
Joyce’s words shocked me. Even though she had prefaced them with, “I hope you will trust that what I am telling you is because I love you,” I still felt confused and angry. “What a thing to be telling me now,” I thought, holding back tears while she hugged me.
As it turned out, Joyce was the only person I knew who could relate to what I was going through. Two years earlier, her youngest son, Barclay, had been diagnosed with Type I diabetes, just like Joshua. In the twenty years since that Thanksgiving weekend, Joyce’s insight has given me strength, reassurance, knowledge, and support. I have shared her advice with others, who, like me, were first stunned and later appreciative of her candor and wisdom. Now, when people ask how I feel about Joshua having diabetes, I tell them, “Absolutely, I want a cure for diabetes. But I would never change what has happened to our family.” I would never change what has happened to Joshua because of the man he has become. I am thankful for the bond we have in our family, the relationship Joshua has with his brother, Noah, and the family life Joshua shares with his wife, Sheryl, who is the answer to my prayer for a perfect partner for my son, and his son, Ashton.
Our family’s journey began the day after Thanksgiving, 1985. After a routine exam showed he had a blood sugar level of 500 mg, we urgently needed to find a diabetes clinic. At the time, my husband, Jordan, and I were living with our sons in Mammoth Lakes, California, a ski resort village in the Sierra Nevada. The nearest diabetes clinic was in Sparks, Nevada—a three- to six-hour drive, depending on the winter weather and mountain roads. It was sheer determination that fueled my nerve-wracking trip along the mountain road to the clinic with Joshua. Our family soon learned that all of us would need the same determination to navigate the curves and detours of diabetes itself.
Decades later, the road remains demanding and disappointing because there still is no cure for diabetes. Happily, however, Joshua has become the driver—a healthy and accomplished husband, father, sky diver/jumpmaster and attorney. I am the passenger—a wife, mother, grandmother, and author of books that educate children and families living with diabetes.
I know how difficult it is to be courageous when you are frightened, strong when you are exhausted, prepared when you are overwhelmed, composed when you are angry, supportive when you are disappointed, encouraged when you are frustrated, communicative when you want to cry, self-caring when there aren’t enough hours in the day, and patient when you are confused.
I want to encourage you to keep your eyes on the road and believe in yourself. Eventually, you will recognize the value and contentment of seeing your child take good care of him/herself, feel loved and esteemed, and make healthy decisions about his/her life.
Meanwhile, I will continue to keep extra orange juice and diabetes supplies in the kitchen. I will wake each morning and go to sleep each night, thinking about how grateful and blessed I am for Joshua, our family and friends like Joyce. I will write books to help other families on their journey. And I will wish the same birthday wish when I blow out the candles on my cake each year — that soon there will be a cure for diabetes, for your child and mine!