Little did I know that some of the hardest days of my life were right around the corner.
In 2003, right after my daughter's seventh birthday, she became deathly sick. She exhibited some symptoms similar to those seen in individuals with diabetes. After making a few calls to my mother, who is a nurse practitioner, we got the dreadful news that Juvenile Type I Diabetes was probably the likely cause of her symptoms. Unfortunately for my daughter, this was the diagnosis of a pediatric endocrinologist as well.
The years of her sickness took a toll on all of us. I had to put any hopes of securing a good job on hold in order to stay home and take care of her. My boyfriend worked two jobs sometimes just to put food on the table. We completely dedicated our lives to raising this beautiful little, girl. And somehow, we managed to survive, and she always found a way to make the best of her illness.
She has suffered from Type 1 Diabetes for ten years now. She has had several close calls with extremely high sugar readings. And over these past ten years, she has been air lifted twice by helicopter while fighting hard to stay alive. Her strength and resilience never ceases to amaze me. She always comes back stronger and more determined than before to manage her illness to the best of her abilities.
It was during this particular hospital stay that I learned a couple of valuable lessons from this amazing young lady. This came about when I overheard her talking with my boyfriend (who she has called "Daddy" for years now). She told him that she was so glad he came into our lives when she was little; that she had been blessed with a father who took her for his own even when her biological father had abandoned her. She went on to tease him about the fact that they favor each other more than most blood related fathers and daughters. Finally she thanked him for being so good to her and to me throughout the years. As I listened to the two of them reminisce about the previous years of her illness, I couldn't help but break into tears. It was at this point that I learned how lucky I really am; not only as a woman, but as a mother, friend and partner.
I have always believed it is the parent's job to teach their children the ways of life. However, in those few precious moments, I realized that our children can teach us some of the most important lessons in life, and mine did. My daughter taught me that life should be filled with three essential elements: love, laughter and strength. I also learned through watching her this last time at the hospital that nothing in life is guaranteed. Thank goodness she has now recovered and is doing great, but in an instant, she could have been torn away from us. This is why it is so important to love those who are dear to you, laugh to keep your spirits up and finally, find strength in those who recognize the strength in you!