Wednesday, June 29, 2011
The Great World I Live In - my latest Dlife Column
Normally, I just share the link to my bi-monthly Dlife column, but today I share it with love here. If you would like to read more of my columns or the blogs and columns by many other talented writers in the "d" world go to: http://www.dlife.com/diabetes_resources/diabetes_advocacy/michelle_alswager/a-part-of-something
This month's column was inspired by my Death Valley ride this year and the friends who joined me. Thanks for reading:
"Thank you so much for making us feel a part of something instead of feeling like something happened to us."
I saw these words in an email from a newly diagnosed mom, when another mom already neck-deep in the “d” world reached out to her, and it really got me thinking about what a great world I live in. Some of you reading this might be in shock to hear me say that — that I live in a great world. Maybe I am a lucky woman to have all of you and to be a part of something, especially after losing my son to this wretched disease. It’s true, and I’ll tell you why.
This past October I embarked on my journey to Death Valley, California with 35 teammates and 300 other people closely associated to someone with diabetes. We had trained all summer to ride 105 miles on bicycles in 105-degree heat. The Ride to Cure Diabetes put on by JDRF is an awe-inspiring event that brings together people in ways I can’t describe to you, bringing people together to feel like they’re a part of something. I’ve said many times that you have to experience the desert to understand the love and connection.
As I was riding up Jubilee Pass — which is anything but full of jubilee — I was cranking my wheels at 4 mph on a 6-mile climb, and feeling pretty sorry for myself. I was thinking about how my friend who has a son with diabetes was deeply upset by words someone uttered earlier during the ride. The words came from a rider with no direct connection to the disease. The words were simply, “I’m so grateful to have healthy children.” The sting to this diabetes mom was great and sank her into tears because she knew after all of this was over, she was still going home to a child with diabetes. An “unhealthy” child.
I thought about her sadness for quite some time, and after pondering, I said to this mom, “You know what? I found myself jealous of your statement that you get to go home to an unhealthy child. Because while it upset you to hear the word “healthy,” it upset me to hear the word “unhealthy.” After the loss of my son, I would give anything to have an unhealthy child back in my home.” And then I thought, Michelle, there is always someone worse off than you; someone who lost their spouse and a child to a car accident; or a family who lost more than one child to multiple illnesses and accidents.
I reflected on that the whole flight home — how I am blessed. While I have diabetes in my life, and now the loss of it in my life, I’m so lucky to know the people that I do in the diabetes world. They care deeply. And when a new family comes along with a recent diagnosis, and one family reaches out to them which creates more families reaching out to them until it is a gigantic embrace, you get a statement like, “Thank you so much for making us feel a part of something instead of feeling like something happened to us.”
That’s my point.