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.