In the diabetes online community, the appearance of a blue candle suggests that someone has lost their life to diabetes. Its a time of sorrow. Its a time to hug our loved ones a little closer. Its a time to test a little more often and then we move on.
Last week I received a message that made my heart stop.
I headed over to a friend’s Facebook page.
I saw the blue candle.
I couldn’t breathe.
I read her post.
The tears began to flow.
Through the tears I sent a message to my friend. She confirmed my worst fears with her words “I just want him back.”
“Oh, I wish I could bring him back for you!”
That’s what I replied through the tears. I was numb. The blue candle was no longer for a stranger who could have been my child. This candle was for a child that I had watched grow through our online communications. This was happening to a friend who had been there for me through highs and lows of 16 years with diabetes. I wished I could bring her son back to her. The pain was too much for me, I couldn’t begin to imagine how she was feeling. It hurt too much to try.
No mother should bury their child. We shouldn’t have to mourn for those who have yet to have fully enjoyed their lives. There is something fundamentally wrong with that. It makes our hearts ache.
When we hear of a child lost, we hurt but we push it away. It happens to other people. It is horrible but it happens to other people. But what about when it doesn’t? What about when it hits your family?
Last week it hit my family and the pain is still fresh.
15 +years ago, I became connected to the internet. I reached out to find “parents of children with diabetes”. I found an information email list, or so I thought. What I really found was a family.
I found people, some that I would meet, some that I would talk to on the phone, and some that I would never know beyond the keystrokes of a keyboard. All of them would become family. They would be by my side through the good times and the bad. They would understand diabetes –its peaks and valleys but they would also understand me. They would be there for me at all hours from around the globe. They were Friends for Life–they were family.
Over the years, some of those connections have been neglected. Our children have grown. Some of the children have become parents themselves. We watched each other’s lives on Facebook and occasionally wished each other well.
Other connections remain strong. We reach out regularly. We still see each other. We have kept in contact and fondly look back on where we have been.
No matter whether we are close or drifted when tragedy strikes, we are all one big family again. One family united by pain. One family sobbing with each other. One family holding each other in virtual hugs with real tears.
Tragedy isn’t supposed to hit us. Not a direct hit. Not taking a child that we “knew” and watched grow but it has. And it hurts like no other.
I know that the pain will fade for some of us. It will dull a little for my friend but that missing piece will never be replaced. I am lucky. In 16 years, my son has stayed quite healthy. In all of this time, I have only known of one person–whom I had met, spoken with, and been friends with, who had died because of diabetes. Now there are two.
I don’t want there to be any more. We need a cure. We need better access to treatments. We need more awareness. We need more…
We will continue to work harder. We will bike more. We will walk more. We will advocate louder.
Our hope will remain.
We came together because of diabetes. We stayed together because of an incredible friendship that knows no borders. I pray that one day we will celebrate a life without diabetes. Until then, hug your loved one a little closer today. Send prayers and strength to the families who have lost someone during our fight. I am grateful to each of you who have become such an important part of my life.