There was a time when Theo joined a church camp class, I gave the diabetes talk to the teacher, and she made a joke. I had wanted sympathy; she needed to make light of it.
There was another time when we were passing through an exhibit hall near the Liberty Bell and saw that the American Diabetes Association was holding a conference there. I had been wanting to learn more about the organization, so Theo and I stopped by the welcome desk. I explained our interest to the woman, and immediately she looked down at Theo, her eyes welled up with tears, and she said how sorry she was that such a young, beautiful boy had to deal with such a difficult disease. Her sympathy was too much, and I pulled Theo away before she could say what would surely come next, that her grandma/aunt/sister had lost a leg or gone blind from diabetes.
What we need can change. It doesn't mean we don't need one or the other, just maybe not now, or today.
This week and next, we're taking care of the 11-year-old twin daughters of friends of ours. We knew Carlos and Susan back when we all lived in Tallahassee; the Scheers moved to Iowa just before our first son was born, and, unbenownst to us, when the twins were already on their way.
Susan died one month ago. She had what was supposed to be the "good" kind of lymphoma.
Some days we talk about mom, some we don't. Sometimes we cry with Carlos, who is attending a seminar during the day, and sometimes we just enjoy a regular day.
Some days after dropping off the girls my instinct is to email Susan and let her know what a great time we had together. How well I get along with her girls, and how much they remind me of her.
And then I remember that I can't. It's then that I'm immensely sad and joyful, both.