This is easily one of my favorite questions asked while in the company of lifelong friends, because most “remember whens” crack us up so much it makes us look like we are the most fun people on the planet. Every few months or so, a group of my friends from high school get together for lunch. Today, we met up at our central-to-most-of-us Don Pablo’s restaurant. It’s been an easy go-to place where everyone can find something to eat, and who cares anyway, when it’s the catching up that’s most important? The only thing that made us skip a beat was a toddler practicing her Freddy Krueger death-scene scream. One of my two kids did the same thing, so I joined several at the table in giving a hearty thumbs up to the mom after we saw her hand raise to cover her sweet angel’s mouth. Saying it was impressive doesn’t do it justice.
We graduated in 1984. Lunches began right after one of the dudes pictured here had a massive tumor invading his frontal lobe. It was so invasive we were afraid to believe he could beat it. At the time of his surgery, we all chipped in for a comfy Lazy Boy recliner and as soon as he was cleared for the outside world, gathered together for lunch and memories. Those early years were scheduled around his brain scans. He was our glue. I never forget that part of the dastardly beast still resides inside his zippered noggin, and celebrate whenever we get news of yet another clean scan. Those beginning lunches made us realize that any one of us could fall, and getting together periodically to celebrate our lives was important. Over time, our lunches became about the other people at the table who were dealing with their own seemingly insurmountable issues such as; death of parents or friend, cancer, divorce, or in my case, a diabetes diagnosis.
On 12/16/11, lunch was on the calendar. Pip had been taken in for a nurse weigh early that morning (10 lbs lost!) and our appointment with the doctor was at 4pm. For normalcy, I left her at school and went home to pack a bag for the hospital. I didn’t need a definitive diagnosis. All that time on my hands was too much, so I turned to this group and showed up for lunch. Upon sharing my news (because I KNEW), one of the girls (not pictured above) blew it off, belittling the reality of what a life with diabetes was like. I thought about that today and it made me feel good to know I would have reacted in a much different way than I had back then…back then I said, “No, you don’t get it”, wanted to smack her and tried not to cry. Luckily, one friend was a nurse (not pictured above) and a simple sympathetic nod from her showed me she understood what we’d be facing.
Today, as I sat across from the beloved George Clooney of the group, (he’ll never read this), I reminded him that 3 ½ years ago I was sitting with all of them for lunch in that very restaurant on my Pip’s diagnosis day. GC was all, “Wow. I remember that day”, and I was all, “Yeah, uh-huh, wanna see something really cool?”
That’s when I pulled out my phone and opened my Dexcom Share app. This got the attention of the entire table. Showing them just how far the diabetes technology had come felt really great, and before everyone could go to the “Big Brother” aspect of Share, I interrupted with the happy part of how it lets us sleep at night with much less worry than we had for those years without it. And, for a parent of a TWD (teen with diabetes), that’s our biggest reason for using it.
He and I continued talking and I shared my excitement over the Children With Diabetes Friends For Life conferences that was days away. He asked a few questions about it, then marveled that one disease could bring about a convention of that magnitude.
GC (not even close to his real name) is an artist and designs toys for a living. With him being one of those 2nd grade friends we bonded at a young age over art, having been tossed together to work on art projects along the way. Our moms were friends and I have always been extremely fond of his siblings who we’d often give rides when we saw them schlepping up the hill to school. We have a connection that I’ll always cherish.
He recalled a high school teacher who used to badger the string bean of our group to tuck his shirt in. It reminded him of how string bean used to look when he showed up at his house ready to play. GC said, “Wait! Wait!” Then drew this…
I am sooooooo looking forward to flying to Friends For Life on Monday, to learn more about the world of diabetes and to reconnect with new friends I’ve stayed in touch with in the DOC (diabetes online community). I have one year of “remember when’s” with this group and look forward to loading up on more memories. I’ll take more like these, please.
Children With Diabetes Friend’s For Life? I’m gonna hold you to that.