Having a child changes everything. Until you have a child, it is impossible to understand the connection. Once you do, you cannot escape it. I have discovered this bond is not just emotional. I think it is physical, as well. It must be, and I will tell you why.
One of my children has diabetes. There is not a moment he is not on my mind even when I do not think he is. When he walks in the room, the disease surrounds him. I see it like an aura he cannot elude. When he tests his blood sugar, I wince, even when I am not with him. I know when it is near the time for a meal, he is reaching for the little bag he takes with him everywhere. I realize that when he feels a dramatic change in his blood sugar, he reaches for the bag and hopes he can get the answer in time. Is it low? Is it high? He carries his insulin and Lifesavers with him wherever he goes. Lifesavers. Who would have thought the name would turn out to be so prophetic?
Every time the phone rings, he crosses my mind. Will this be the phone call? Is something wrong? The truth is, there has not been one of those phone calls since he was diagnosed, but that does not change anything. He is only 17 and getting ready to graduate high school next year. He is still my baby, so when the phone rings, I jump, and I guess I always will.
I am amazed at his courage. He has not let it stop him or, even, slow him down. He has been active in school activities, plays the saxophone, and ice skates. He has many friends, and they know his health is a bit precarious. They can tell when he is not feeling well, and they are very solicitous. They help him when he needs them, and care about him. As a mother, you cannot imagine how that makes me feel. As he moves out into the world, I feel relieved that he will surround himself with people who will be there for him, and I believe he will be safer for it.
Somewhere inside of me, I know he lives. That place is palpable. I know it is true of any parent-child relationship. It is just more powerful when a child is ill – especially with a chronic illness. For a long time, I feared I was indulging in some neurotic fantasy. I have decided that is not the case. I think it is, instead, something magical. Maybe he can sense how much I love him, and he will always feel that love. If he does, perhaps he will take care of himself.
I will always watch over him. I will try not to hover. I hope he will find that someone special who will take my place and keep him first in her heart. I know he will take care of her, too, because that is the kind of person he is. That is the best any parent can hope for.
Image by Luis Hernandez – D2k6.es