I had arrived. After birthing four kids in less than five years and safely seeing the twins to their second birthday, I declared myself ready to live again. The treadmill became my evening companion, helping me shed ten pounds over the long winter.
My hair finally acquired some color (other than grey) and an actual style. Be gone, ponytail! Soccer games, birthday treats, and family vacations paved my future. Bring it, world!
Then it happened.
Twenty-six month old Levi couldn’t play, lethargic and cranky. Shrieks of thirst destroyed naps. Diaper after diaper filled as quickly as I could change them. Then the weight loss.
I sat in the ER knowing the diagnosis before the doctor could confirm it. My two-year-old asthmatic son had Type 1 Diabetes.
His pancreas quit, and I hung my head. Forget the soccer games. I wouldn’t even let him out to the backyard. The wind that had blown through my new hair stilled. I became consumed with the daily goal of keeping my son alive, fearing a diabetic coma every hour of the day. Driving through the DQ was no longer an option. Every carb had to be counted. Five to six times a day, I chased and held my son down to inject him with insulin. I thought I had lost sleep when we had two newborns in the house. Forget it. This was forever.
I’d stare in the mirror and wonder what happened to my new life, as if I were in some twisted space-time continuum. My ten lost pounds were found, along with five of their friends. I could not function. Life came crashing down, and dreams were destroyed.
Having a special needs child opened a new world. Many well-intentioned people offended. I didn’t want to hear about my friend’s aunt’s diabetic cat. I didn’t want to hear about exercise or miracle foods that would heal my child of an incurable disease. I didn’t want to hear about the diabetic neighbor who lost his eyesight or the uncle who had both feet amputated. I didn’t want to hear people tell me they didn’t know how I did it. Curling up in a fetal position would do nothing for my family, so “doing it” became the only option.
We are just past the seven year mark of Levi’s diaversary. Since that date, my son has added severe allergies and insulin resistance to his list of diagnoses. (It’s like needing applesauce to live but being allergic to apples. Took me a while to wrap my brain around that concept.)
Throughout the process, I have learned empathy. I have realized that I until walk in her shoes, I cannot relate to the mother of an autistic child. I don’t understand the struggles of raising an adopted baby with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. I learned it was acceptable and best to admit that I had no clue what friends were experiencing with their struggles and discovered I loved when people confessed the same to me.
Most significantly, I have had to learn to surrender my dreams, for myself and my son, to God, sometimes willingly and other times begrudgingly. God continually whispers Joseph’s story to me from the book of Genesis. Joseph dreamt big things, but at least twenty years passed before his God-given dream was realized. Even through being sold by brothers (who were supposed to someday bow to him) into slavery and being unjustly jailed in a foreign land, Joseph kept his dream surrendered to God, patiently and faithfully waiting. The end result? God gave an abundance far greater than I think Joseph ever imagined.
As I watch my son mature, I grieve or celebrate depending on the circumstance. But, I also wait patiently and faithfully through the hospitalizations, injections, and frustrating diagnoses with faith that God will turn my surrendered dreams into more than I could ever imagine.
What dreams do you need to surrender today?