This was originally written in September, just now posting it. Click here to read the Welcome to Holland poem I refer to in this post.
Imagine my surprise when we came upon THIS sign on our way to a baseball game this afternoon! Actually, not just one sign, but sign after sign lined the street in this interesting little town about 45 miles from our home. Jacob is on a travel baseball team and this afternoon he played a double header about an hour away. I didn't really think anything when I looked up the directions and saw he would be playing at Holland Athletic Association. Actually, I thought we were going to Suffolk, VA. As I was trying to find the field out in the middle of nowhere and not get lost, Natalie said, "Hey, that sign says Welcome to Holland!" WHAT?! I laughed and said it sure does. Wow, I didn't expect to see that today! Then I said "okay, let's pay attention so we don't pass the baseball field." She said, "Well we just passed one back there, but Jacob's team wasn't playing." I turned around because it sure didn't look like we were going to come upon another baseball field anytime soon. She is my little GPS system.
Who knew that we lived so close to Holland?! As I thought about it, I realized there were a lot of similarities between the Holland in Virginia that we landed in that day and the Holland in the poem that we had no desire to go to. Sometimes Holland can be very lonely and feel like you were dropped off in the middle of nowhere. Often, you may feel that no one understands your life with T1D and you are all on your own just trying to catch your breath. Then sometimes Holland is closer than you ever thought and you are surprised when you meet someone else in Holland that you never knew was there as well. It may not even be someone that lives the T1D life. It might be a family with a child with a different special need, but they get that your life is full of extra challenges. They get the heartbreak you feel that your child has extra obstacles to overcome.
This baseball team is a fairly new team for Jacob, so I don't feel like I know many of the other parents very well. They weren't part of our lives when Natalie was diagnosed so they don't know much of what we go through. In fact, Natalie's diagnosis occurred right smack dab in the middle of an All Star tournament for Jacob when he played on another team. At the time, he played for a league that he had played for since age 4. We knew those people well and they supported, encouraged and stood by us through it all. At the beginning of her diagnosis, I always felt the need to explain everything we do to care for her, but now I am content to just say "yes, we are fine" when they see me checking her blood sugar and are concerned. I'm happy to answer any questions; I just don't feel the need to anymore.
That day as we were leaving Holland after I had to dash across the street, avoiding heavy farm machinery, to get this picture, Natalie said, "Oh, that says Alaska!". Huh?! Oh right, she was watching the movie "Snow Buddies". Thank goodness, let's just stick with Holland for now.
Follow up added January 8, 2013:
Last week as part of a JDRF project, I had the opportunity to assist in interviewing other families about their life with T1D as well as be interviewed. Wow, what an emotional day that was. As I shared our story and heard others' stories, I wasn't the only one moved to tears. In fact, everyones' stories were very emotional for many members of the family; not just parents, but also siblings and Grandparents.
As I heard those living with T1D for longer than Natalie explain their emotions as well as how they feel physically I was overcome with emotion. A young woman that was diagnosed at the age of 4, the same as Natalie, said she doesn't remember a life without diabetes. That is exactly what they told us will happen with Natalie. To hear her actually say those words and see years down the road, just broke my heart though. A man that was diagnosed in his 40's became emotional as he compared his life before T1D and after T1D. He explained the awful feeling his body went through as he came down from a very high blood sugar at diagnosis. These adults were able to communicate what the younger ones are unable to put into words. Siblings expressed their fears of future kidney damage and the possibility of transplants. A fear I try to keep tucked away, and do not dare say out loud. Hearing their stories validated my emotions and fears. It validated that this diagnosis is difficult, this life is hard; there is no break ever and every day is different, throwing us different challenges each day. That's what being in Holland is like. I have met so many families through JDRF who are now friends and I am so thankful to have them in our lives. While I wish for a cure for T1D; frankly, T1D has broadened our horizons, and made our hearts more sensitive to others living with struggles. This reminds me of one of the first JDRF events I attended. I met many other families and while we really knew nothing about each other personally we shared the bond of having a child or loved one with T1D. When I left, it made me think of the theme song to Cheers:
Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.
Wouldn't you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they're always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
You wanna go where people know,
people are all the same,
You wanna go where everybody knows
by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo