I wrote this two months ago, when it was my son’s “diaversary.” It was too raw to post then – it was a bad time for us. We’re in a much better place now, but I still mean what I said.
My darling girl,
You were my third child, meant to be my treat, my spoilt one, after the chaos of twins. It didn’t always work that way, my car seat baby, but we had some stolen moments, the two of us, while the boys were at school. How I loved those moments.
Then all of a sudden it was your fourth birthday, the first day of the summer holidays and you were due to start school in two months. How I wanted to make the most of that little time.
And then a monster turned up at your birthday feast, and never went away again. As your brother ordered drink after drink, the penny dropped. I realised why he’d been so tired for so long, that his chiselled face wasn’t him growing up, but something far more sinister. I knew it was Type 1 diabetes, a life threatening autoimmune condition. I knew our lives had changed, but I didn’t know how much it would steal from us, from you.
I’m sorry… I’m sorry that I didn’t put you to bed on your birthday, that I took your brother to hospital instead and stayed with him. I’m sorry we sent you away to stay with Granny while he learnt to draw blood 10 times a day to test his glucose and to inject himself five times a day.
I’m sorry that summer wasn’t about you, about last moments of early childhood and getting you ready for school. I’m sorry it was about learning how to live with the beast. How to deal with hypoglycaemia that could lead to coma, how to count every gram of carbohydrate that passed your brother’s lips. I’m sorry I couldn’t involve you in cooking anymore because each meal became a series of equations.
I’m sorry I couldn’t sleep in your bed anymore because I had to wake to check your brother and sometimes treat him with glucose. That when I tried to read your goodnight story my mind was counting the minutes until I could check on him. I’m sorry I shouted when he went low and you just wanted the last page of your book.
I’m sorry I stopped smiling.
I’m sorry you learnt your numbers from a glucose meter, learning the critical difference between a 3.8 and a 7.4, and on a bad night, learning your teens way ahead of time. I’m sorry you look at roadsigns and see four point zero instead of forty.
I’m sorry you sometimes refuse to eat treats at school in case it makes your brother sad.
I’m sorry that this year wasn’t about playdates and learning as the monster ate away our evenings. I’m sorry that sometimes I can hardly speak, let alone play. I’m sorry that when we have good times, I’m only 50% present.
I’m sorry I didn’t always notice how thoughtful, kind, fun and stylish you’ve become.
I’m sorry that when you’re tired or thirsty, you have to bleed too, because there’s a strong chance the monster will come for you too.
I’m sorry you’ll share your birthday forever with the day the monster came to stay.
I’m sorry that you’ve now lived a fifth of your life with this beast.
But on your birthday, I promise some things as well. I promise that this vile thing which eclipsed our world is starting to recede. It will always be there, but everyday we’re stealing some of its power, relegating it to a minor role in our lives. I can’t promise that I can refuse to do its bidding. But when it’s not showing its claws, it will walk behind us. It will roar from the cellar. It won’t steal your feast again.
I can’t promise you the world I want baby. But I promise you I’ll try.
Happy birthday darling girl.