Check this out . . .
On Saturday afternoon, my friend, Alma, sent me a link to a Family Fun Day event she received from another family who attends her boys’ school. It was a fundraiser for an 11-year-old Type 1 diabetic boy to raise money for a three-week long diabetes camp that I hear is out of this world (Ryan is still a little too young to go). The event was only about 20 minutes away and it had things like bounce houses, horseback rides, a petting zoo, dancing, dinner and more. So we thought the boys would have a blast for only a donation to Jackson’s camp fund. So we decided to go.
I thought we’d have fun, be in beautiful country, eat a good bbq dinner and call it a great family time on Sunday afternoon. But boy did I underestimate the impact it would make on my life.
After a formal, short greeting to all who were in attendance and public thank you from Jackson’s parents following a very powerful d video, I decided to meet our hosts and introduce ourselves . . . after all, we are both d families who live very close together and their perspective, their Christian perspective, is something we have in common.
When I introduced myself to Mrs. Steger, she was wonderfully gracious. She was so amazed we would come and support their family, and she so wanted to meet Ryan. But as she turned, she saw three other guests who, I believe, had just arrived. She introduced me to Drew & Courtney Holder and Drew’s sister, Michelle. Drew was dx’d with T1 when he was three years old. And he played professional baseball! ANOTHER T1 ATHLETE! Woo Hoo! I got so excited that I had to concentrate to not act a little giddy. But all I really wanted was for Ryan to meet him, be encouraged by him and hopefully even feel a little special because they shared something in common.
I graciously excused myself after babbling something about Ryan meeting Toby Peterson and being a Jay Cutler fan (how embarrassing, right!?!?). Then I joined my other four in line for food. And all the while just making mental note that Ryan had to meet Drew and get a picture with him . . . it would really encourage Ryan. But reality set in when Aaron came with a plate-full of food that he just about threw in my lap and I then had to stop making mental notes and start tending to my 5-year-old-accident-waiting-to-happen.
A few minutes later, someone asks if the extra seats at our table were taken. I looked up and it was Courtney and Michelle (wife and sis of the T1 b-ball player). You seriously would have thought that Justin Bieber sat down at the table with my 14-year-old niece . . . that’s how I felt on the inside. They were going to sit with us. I wanted to ask so many questions, share our story, laugh and cry a little about d. But we were strangers, right? Yes. But really no. We had two major things in common. D and our faith. “Stranger” was thrown out the window and a sort of sisterhood set in. We ate and talked for nearly two hours, almost yelling over music and endless raffle winner announcements. We talked . . . a d-wife, a d-sis and a d-mom. I get all choked up from just writing it. A sisterhood of d. It was wonderful. It was comforting. It was real.
Courtney. She is amazing. She married a T1er. I know she isn’t the only one who has. But she is the only one I’ve talked to face-to-face since Ryan’s dx. We, as d-moms, did not choose the d-life. It was given to us and we take it and survive or make the best of it because it’s our baby, our child, and because they simply cannot survive without us. But Courtney CHOSE life with Drew with d tagging along. That touches my heart and moves so completely. She doesn’t take it passively either, like it’s Drew’s disease. She owns it. She’s willing to advocate with him, encourage others right by his side and share hope in the process. She loves him. She.chose.him! I pray, really pray, God is already working on the heart of Ryan’s precious wife. I pray that she takes that perspective that Courtney has taken. She gave me so much hope.
And Michelle, Drew’s sister. She is sweet and fun and knows what it’s like to grow up with a T1er. She’s witnessed seizures and talks of it even with a smile on her face. What I get from that . . . she survived it, unharmed, unscathed, NOT bitter. The whole family did. She learned signs of his highs and lows and would help him when the sugar would over-take and cloud the judgment of doing what you need to when you need to do it. She was the adult version of what I imagine and hope Ethan & Aaron will be one day. Talking confidently without resentment about Ryan and how it was natural to step up and pitch in and help with Ryan’s care. She was interested in me, an often barely together d-mom who struggles. And she brought me comfort.
But the real impact they had on my life, even if our paths never cross again (which I will make sure they will), was immeasurable. There are no words. I was able to talk so freely, so easily. I shared my fears. I shared my struggles. They listened. They got it. Their perspectives, so different from mine but somehow the same, were powerful. And I am so grateful. I could have talked with them all night. But I know how to contact them, we’re fb friends now . . . muah ha ha ha (evil sinister laugh) . . . they will have a hard time hiding from me. 🙂
But I watched Drew, a twenty-something adult man, interested in Ryan. He watched Ryan, interested in their special connection (which Ryan was honestly a little unaware of with all the other activity going on). He tried to talk to him during dinner, but Ryan’s a little shy with new people. But it didn’t seem to bother Drew. He just kept talking a bit. And would talk with Jay and me. He got up and checked out Ryan’s pod when we were taping it secure before going in the bounce house. Then pulled up his shirt and showed Ry his site on his belly. He wears a Cozmo (out of warranty but he LOVES it). But the tenderness in talking with Ryan and watching him . . . I could see it . . . it was beautiful. And again, a total Godsend.
Completely without exaggeration, they were like three angels God sent my way, while I was discouraged with so many things. With d, with some saddness and loss in our family, missing loved ones, wanting more for others. <Sigh> Life is just hard. And it’s when we need it the most, God places special people, special unexpected friends in our lives to help us along the way. And last night was simply that, God orchestrating with his very fingers a special meeting.
It was kind of funny when we were driving home. Leaving the farm-house, the three of them were in front of us and we followed them to an intersection when they turned right and we turned left. Ryan, who seemed a bit disconnected from them the whole evening, piped up and said, “Hey, let’s follow Drew to their house!” Ahhh, yes! The connection WAS made. Drew, you DID have an impact although you probably didn’t see it. But it was there. Thank you.
I hope our paths cross again. Better yet, I pray it’s the beginning of a wonderful friendship.
You can see the news clip that connected Drew to the Steger family that eventually led us to meet them here. Pay special note to what Drew says about how d has, or rather, has NOT limited him. I love it!