When Life Happens…

My knee-jerk reaction when difficult things come crashing into my life is to view them as interruptions,  aberrations, abnormalities, unwanted guests, separate from the life I’m supposed to be living.  This reaction was very prevalent on Monday as I sat in the pediatricians office with my sweet 7 year old girl waiting for a urine test to come back.  I had actually called and made this appointment.  Certain things about my girl had been bothering me for a couple of months.  I had these nagging thoughts that something was not quite right, but could come up with seemingly reasonable explanations for each of them.  My growing suspicions kept bringing one thought to mind…juvenile diabetes.  Due to heightened symptoms in the last week, I got online to find out what the signs of juvenile diabetes were, and there in the top 3, were all the things I had been seeing in my child.  I immediately made the appointment.

I was prepared, somewhat, for the doctor to say that yes, her sugar levels and ketones were high and yes we need to tend to this.  I was not prepared for him to say that we needed to go to Brenner’s Children’s Hospital ASAP.  I told him we had so many other appointments that afternoon having to do with our other children’s needs.  He very kindly said that he thought others would understand us cancelling these appointments due to our child being diagnosed with diabetes.  He also said, again very gently…she needed insulin yesterday.  Life interrupted.  Life rended in two.  Life, as I had known it, halts.

There was a brief moment- as I sat in the ER at Brenner’s, after hearing the confirmation of this diagnosis, just how high her blood sugars were, and what needs to happen next- the thought came into my mind to gather up my Maddie and walk right out the doors of that hospital and return to our life as it had been.  Of course, I did not do this.  Something kept me in my seat.  Somehow I knew that no matter how difficult and painful the coming days would be, that this would be what would restore my child’s health and keep her from further damage and even worse pain.  The “difficult thing” was exactly what she needed to survive, to really live, to flourish.

What I’m realizing anew, as I have many times in the past, is that THIS IS LIFE.  This is not an interruption or aberration to a life we think we were meant to live.  THIS IS IT!  Though I am NOT saying that this is what life was MEANT to be like, I am saying that it is in these difficult patches that life can be rich, full of love and meaning and learning.  The rest of life becomes a sort of theatrical backdrop to what is really happening on stage.  I do not want to only hang out in the scenery…I want to engage on the stage of life, whatever comes my way.

I’m sounding a bit like I’m preaching.  And to be honest, I am.  I need to do this.  You must not think that tears have not been shed, or that I stoicly push myself to “look on the bright side” of things.  Even as I type, my eyes well up, my mind replays the memories of how Maddie cries sometimes when she gets her shots, the feeling of being overwhelmed looms large.  I need to live one moment at a time, one finger prick and one insulin shot at a time.  We’ve been watching Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (several times in the hospital and again last night)…the song “put one foot in front of the other” has been running in my head these last few days.  It’s a good thing to remember.

When life happens, it’s good to also remember:  The “difficult thing” is exactly what I need to survive, to really live, to flourish.

0 thoughts on “When Life Happens…

  1. anntnem says:

    I am sorry this is happening to you and your sweet little Maddie. It’s because of your good mothering instincts that she is okay and will continue to do very well. It is so hard, even unthinkable at times, to imagine something so difficult for our children. But it does get better, maybe not easier to think about, but better still. Give Maddie a hug for me 🙂

  2. Leslie Ruth says:

    Oh, I’m so glad you paid attention and followed that nudge to get her checked out! I have a little boy in my class {9 years old} who has diabetes and he manages it wonderfully. It’s amazing to see what he can handle and cope with at such a young age. I will be praying for strength, wisdom and patience for all the Edwards…

    Leslie {Unger} Petree

  3. Mandy says:

    Wow. Thanks for this thoughtful post. I am a knitter and knitting teacher at Common Threads in High Point. Can’t remember what first led me to your blog, but I’m glad I found it. I saw a binder with your patterns at Common Threads, come to think of it. Anyway. I’ll be thinking of you and your girl. All the best.

  4. vickylw says:

    Oh, Jennifer, what a crisis! I am so sorry to hear that. My eldest granddaughter is almost 7; such a young age to be dealing with something as serious as diabetes.

    I was amazed at your watercolor of Rufus — I don’t think I could concentrate so well while facing so much. Thank God you took Maddie in to the doctor when you did.

    I’ll be praying for you both as you go through this.

  5. Johanna says:

    My eyes, too, well up as I read your post. Not because your daughter has diabetes, however difficult and sad that is, but because your post and your drawings are so full of love and tenderness and hope. You are full of confidence, after all, that this is all going to work out fine. And so am I.

    All my best wishes to you and Maddie
    /Johanna in Sweden.

  6. Phyllis says:

    Moments fill our lives like the colorful dots in a Seurat painting. When we pay attention, really pay attention, the art of living becomes something truly remarkable to see – ane here, in image and in word, you have reached deep and touched a universal core. Wishing your family all good things…

  7. Martine says:

    I also had a pupil with diabetes in my class last year and she managed everything so well (she was one year ahead of the whole group !) and she was just full of life ! It’s so good you checked her. I’m sure eveything will be all right. All my best wishes to you.

  8. Krista Meister says:

    My sister and my niece, age 9, went through almost the exact same scenario a year ago. They were just about to leave on a trip and the doctor said, get her to emergency RIGHT NOW. It took several days to stabilize her. My niece does well giving herself shots, is delighted that she has to carry a cell phone on her at all times, being the only one at school who does so, but it is for medical emergencies only so she can call her Mom with her #s. She might soon be eligible for an insulin pump to regulate it.

    That said, I have much sympathy for you, your daughter and family. It IS a big life alteration. And, like you said, it is what it is. I applaud you for your strength in meeting this head on. One word of caution, and I hate to even mention this: this is a very traumatic life change for your daughter. Do not hesitate to seek counseling/group support for your daughter (and you!) if warranted. My niece started having OCD symptoms with constant washing of hands and germ fears because she did not know how to process the turmoil she was feeling. Through therapy, those symptoms have resolved itself. Feel free to e-mail me if you like.

    P.S.: Tell your daughter that Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers has diabetes too. That really brightened up my niece’s outlook.

  9. Lisa Mabe says:

    As I’m reading your entry, tears are rolling down my face. I am so sorry you all are having to face this. Thank God that you listened to your intuition and brought her in to the doctor. I know from experience that anytime anything happens to our children it is like getting punched in the gut (and stabbed in the heart) and you would do anything to switch places. I am thinking about you, Maddie and your entire family and praying for you all to have strength to get through this.

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