She walks a line, sometimes running off on one side in pursuit of the toy aisle…other times stumbling on the opposite side with her cell phone in hand. She stands on the cusp between wanting to play imaginary games and wanting to explore deep conversations about life with her friends.
I’ve watched her come to this place…this place between being a child and being a teenager. I’ve walked alongside her with a meter and juice box in hand. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes three weeks after her second birthday, and the milestones that followed have been accompanied by diabetes ever since.
When she dropped her insulin pump in the toilet while potty training, diabetes was there. When she buttoned her shirt and learned to tie her shoes, it was there. When she climbed to the top of the slide on her own; and then, when she crossed the monkey bars for the first time a few years later -- it was there. Diabetes was there when she learned to ride her bike without training wheels, when she learned how to swim, and when she ran her first cross country race. It was there when she cried for the first time watching a movie. It was there when she slept away from home for the first time.
Diabetes has always been there.
Sometimes Almost-Twelve giggles over boys and asks for more eclectic music to be added to her iPod. Almost-Twelve has a diary and falls asleep with her glasses on while reading books. Almost-Twelve likes to go for bike rides around the neighborhood without her mother and sisters tagging along. Almost-Twelve calculates her own carbs, independently operates her insulin pump, and takes care of her blood sugars while hanging out at a friend’s house. Almost-Twelve stumbles and fumbles insider her changing body, but always manages to figure it out. Almost-Twelve has been fun.
Somehow we’ve come to this moment. Eleven is fading fast, and Twelve is waiting. Twelve with its excitement to learn about becoming a babysitter and inquiries about makeup. Twelve might shave her legs, and Twelve might develop a new sense of fashion style. Twelve will learn new things about friendships. Twelve will learn more about the world around her, and sometimes it will hurt. Twelve will have her deeply rooted opinions and will probably test her parent’s patience.
Twelve is just around the corner.
I’ve heard stories about how Twelve wreaks havoc on blood sugar levels…growth spurts and hormones and emotions. Sometimes I’m scared, but most of the time I’m excited. I’m excited to witness the making of the person she is becoming. I’m excited to see her navigate the crossroads. I’m excited to see how her life experiences thus far shape the future that is waiting.
Beyond Twelve her first school dance is waiting. Her first job. Her first romp around the mall without her mother stalking. Her first date. Her first of so many things is yet to come. She’s growing up fast, and there’s still so much life to discover.
Along the way, diabetes will still be there.
And so will I.