This Father’s Day reminds me of a scene set long ago. It was almost 23 years ago. It was the summer that I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as an 18 year-old.
The entire diagnosis was not handled well by me. I arrived to my parent’s house and crumpled into a heap on my daybed. My dad followed me into my room and sat on the floor next to my bed. My dad was a big strong guy who had never shown big emotions while I grew up. This was different. We knew life was changing in colossal ways. Life was suddenly scary and completely foreign to us. There was no normal to be found. Diabetes throws in a huge learning curve and it takes tons of time to figure out. In the beginning you feel like life is over. Without support, it could downright break a person.
Suddenly, my dad was crying and saying out loud “I wish I could take it for you, I wish I could take it for you”. Of course, I’d never have let him. The love goes both ways, as does the will to protect our loved ones. I didn’t want diabetes, but I wouldn’t have wished it on anyone. I sometimes find myself thinking it is good that it was me and not either of my two siblings. I have a younger brother and an older sister. They might not be able to handle the difficulties that diabetes delivers. I know that it is my path to walk in life. There must be a reason for it. I often think that perhaps it was given to me so I could help others, to connect with people like me. We need each other.
He had never cried in front of me before. We felt so much helplessness in that moment. At the same time, I saw his love for me like I’d never seen it before. He hasn’t cried in front of me again and I hope he never has to. I feel like it bonded us in ways that helped us see how important we are to each other. Thanks for that loving moment, Dad. I am strong. You taught your daughter well.