Embracing Life & the Child with the Disease

Encounter with Strangers

After three weeks of Jason working six days a week, 65+ hours AND going on a two and a half day business trip one week back into the job, we had a leisurely afternoon on Labor Day at the pool celebrating Ethan’s 13th birthday.

Yes, I am officially the mom of a teenager now . . . OH MY WORD!

But back to the pool.

We had a huge breakfast out and Ryan had a protein-packed, complex-carbed breakfast.  Important because it was a Texas-hot, mid-90s,big-blue-sunny-sky kinda day.  I knew swimming and climbing the stairs to the water park sized slides would make him burn carbs fast.  But I felt confident.

About an hour and a half into swimming, Ryan got out of the pool and said, “Mom, come with me to check my sugar.”

Go with him? What? This is very odd for him to want me to go with him because he just does it on his own, usually broadcasting the number for all the pool guests to hear.  But he wanted me to come with him.

A bit startled by the request, I got up from the side of the pool and scurried to catch up with my sweet one.

I noticed his hands shaking a little opening the “black bag” to grab an alcohol wipe. So I just decided to take over and my fiercely independent eight-year-old did not protest.

Calmly & with no words, I grabbed a juice box and jammed the straw in the hole, handed it to Ryan and looked to Jason in the pool who was already watching, waiting for the number.  I gave him the hand signals for a 3 and a 7 and sat back in my chair and watched my 8-year-old work to chug down the juice.

Sitting behind me, next to our pool set up under a large shade awning was an African American family including a grandmother, son and three grandchildren who were sitting out drying off getting ready to leave.

Very courteously, the Grandmother asked, “Can I ask you a question?”

I sat up and turned around in my seat, “Sure.”

“What is that?” she asked pointing to Ryan’s pod.

“It’s an insulin pump.”

Now, I must insert here that people ask about Ryan’s Omnipod all the time.  It’s part of him, part of who he is, and people ask.  I don’t mind the asking.  But in all honesty, people are too often not very gracious or say the most incredibly stupid things when you tell them that your child has diabetes.  And I am sure that too many times, I am curt with people from the get-go, particularly when Ryan is within earshot, not wanting him to hear the erroneous things people say.

Her reply, “Does he have Type 1 diabetes?”

Aahhhhhh.  Someone who knows the difference. Or at least that there is a difference.  And I relaxed.

The conversation continued with explaining a little about what we were doing (waiting for his sugar to come up from the treatment of the low) & when he was diagnosed. Her son walked up during the conversation and asked if he could possibly ever grow out of it (a common question, which the answer is obviously no), how well Ryan does with dealing with it and so on.  I took a little time and gave a very rudimentary explanation of what happened to his body and what is going on with it now.  They were very engaged.  Very interested in learning.  Very compassionate.

Ryan was just listening, watching.

They were sincere and animated but there was such concern.  Such love from total strangers.

Then it happened.  Something clicked within this man and he engaged — WITH RYAN — I became invisible.  He asked how he felt about having diabetes.  He asked how hard it was to poke his finger 7-10 times a day.  He asked if it bothered him to sit out of the pool while his blood sugar went up and so on.

Then he praised him.

“You are an amazing young man.”

“God has big plans for you.”

“Your mom must be so proud of how much you work at taking care of your body.”

“You are a young man of great courage.”

And Ryan, even as quiet as he was because we have taught him not to talk to strangers, was a sponge absorbing every drop of every word.

And suddenly the man paused for a moment.  A pensive pause.  And he asked if it was okay if he prayed with us for Ryan right then and there.

I had no words.

As I watched that man offer to hold Ryan’s hand and Ryan take his hand and close his eyes and listen to that precious man talk to God about my boy . . . there just are no words to adequately describe my heart at that moment, or even now recalling that moment.

Our world is changing.  We so lack community and love for mankind, for a child, for unique individual struggles and for the things in life that make living it hard.

But in that moment, the world was right.  Denomination did not matter, race did not matter, age did not matter, nor did gender or economics or status.  We were merely two families brought together by a pool and love for a child – MY CHILD.

And they loved on, encouraged and prayed for my son.

And that prayer.

He called Ryan a courageous warrior.  He pleaded with God to continue to protect Ryan’s organs.  He thanked God for the great plans He had for Ryan’s life despite diabetes AND because of it.  He asked for strength and wisdom for Ryan’s parents in dealing with the challenges ahead.  He thanked God for allowing him to meet such a hero as Ryan.

And he touched my heart.

And Ryan will never for get it.

And the grandmother, Ms. Edna, asked for his first and last name as they were leaving, saved it on her phone, and leaned down looking right into Ryan’s eyes and said, “Ms. Edna promises to pray for you every day, by name, every day.”

Maybe you wouldn’t be so encouraged if something like this happened to you. Maybe it would make you feel uncomfortable.  In all honesty, if I was reading this on someone else’s blog, I might even myself wonder if it would make me uneasy or even embarrass me.  But I will tell you the genuineness and concern for my boy . . . it made everyone and everything else disappear as if we were the only ones at the pool.

And I will tell you, when you hear so much from strangers all their uneducated advice, ridiculous suggestions, their stereotypical solution to diabetes or their way-out-there “sure cure” for this currently incurable disease, it is refreshing to find someone who sees my boy exactly the way I see him — as the courageous hero he really is.

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Comments on: "Encounter with Strangers" (6)

  1. This just left me with tears streaming down my face. What a great encounter for you ALL to have. LOVE, LOVE!! Thanks for sharing!!!

  2. Thank you for posting this. God’s people are out in the byways and highways and at pools doing God’s work. We are to encourage each other and pray for each other. Lord I ask you to bless both of these families and strengthen them to do your good deeds.I look forward to learning how you use Ryan in other’s lives. I praise your name Jesus!

  3. Yep, had to find the tissues!
    That is just so wonderful…wish there were more of those kinds of encounters!!

  4. WOW…what a wonderfully “everything-is-right-with-my-world” experience. Love this…Did not like the 37 tho. Poor Ry. xo

  5. Wow! What an awesome story and encouraging to hear how complete stangers showed sincere concern and love. Unfortunately so rare these days!

  6. What a great story! We hear so much about the stupid comments people make, it is nice to hear that sometimes it doesn’t have to be that way!

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