When I walked into the hotel for the JDRF Symposium last Saturday morning, two of my favorite little girls had their arms around my waist before I could even drop my bags. In that moment, I realized how thankful I am to have this life — truly, genuinely and without reservation grateful.
Today marks 19 years with diabetes. If I could eliminate this disease from my body at the cost of losing those two girls and their families in my life, I wouldn’t do it. If erasing diabetes from my life meant not knowing you, I’m happy to keep it. I am who I am because of this disease — inside and out. It has given me confidence and shown me how to be a fighter. It’s been a significant contributor to my outlook on life and believing in hope. It has taught me to be compassionate and sympathetic toward others and realize that everyone is fighting a battle regardless of whether we can see it. It’s helped me learn every emotion is valid and every voice needs to be heard.
When I think about the highlights of my life and the most important people in my life, diabetes makes an appearance in nearly every scenario. Scripture reminds me I was knit together long ago, and there’s no flaw in me. My diabetes has shaped me, and I don’t see it as a negative thing. I am thankful for the tough days with diabetes because they make me stronger. I’m grateful for the difficult hours with this disease because those moments give me determination. I am thankful diabetes makes me work a little harder because it makes the finish line that much sweeter. You may feel differently about your diabetes connection, and that’s perfectly fine. It took 19 years for my heart to reach this place.
My diagnosis seems like a lifetime ago, but I’m thankful for diabetes in my life. Without it, I wouldn’t be me and I wouldn’t have you.