Today is the sixth anniversary of Eric's diagnosis. And you know what? I didn't remember that until I had to run to the nurse's office to give her a new meter (the 5-year-old OneTouch Ultralink meter we'd gotten with Eric's pump gave up the ghost, not unexpectedly). When I signed into the school, I put the date down, and realized... oh.
What's funny is that October 6 and 7 represent a 2-day anniversary of what remains, and hopefully will always remain, the worst 48-hour period I've ever lived through. And it's also Eric's dad's birthday (so you can imagine how much it sucked for HIM in 2008). Here's how it went:
On October 6, 2008, at about 1:00, Eric's daycare provider called to ask me whether I'd noticed that Eric was thirsty a lot, and wetting his diapers more thoroughly than usual. I had, and her mentioning it made my stomach descend to my shoes, because I'd been telling myself for nearly 2 weeks that it was just... teething, or ... a phase, or... anything, anything, ANYTHING but diabetes. It's only happening at night, I'd thought, or Michelle would've mentioned it. October 6th, she mentioned it. I got off the phone with her and called the pediatrician for an appointment. Eric would see him, and get the definitive diagnosis, tomorrow. He tried to reassure me it could be any number of things. I already knew it wasn't, but I wanted very much to be convinced.
I left work that day at around 4:45. I spent the whole drive home contemplating Eric's now-obviously-not-teething-related symptoms and worrying and fretting and praying that I would be able to laugh at myself for overreacting once we visited the pediatrician. It's a wonder I didn't crash into anyone en route. I got to the daycare, picked up the boys, and headed home. As I swung into the driveway at 5:30, I saw Mark moving horses — not uncommon — but there was something off about how he was moving. He looked agitated. As soon as I got out of the car, he yelled to me to go take a look at our 6-month-old filly — Sweet Melissa, our first-born foal, our pride and joy — because something was "very wrong" with the way she was walking. So I hustled the kids into the house and walked down to the mares' paddock.
I didn't have to go too close to where Melissa and her dam, Mist, were standing to see the problem. It was tragically evident. Melissa's hind leg was broken, a compound fracture that had broken through the skin. In horses, any break to the main bone of the leg is a death sentence. My "other baby" was doomed, and in very short order.
My fears about Eric were abruptly shunted aside. I ran back into the house as fast as my legs could carry me and got on the phone to the vet. My hands were shaking and I had tears rolling down my face. The kids, of course, couldn't figure out what was wrong that made me cry like this. In fact, it was all the turmoil of the day being released in a flood as I summoned the vet to come put an end to my filly's suffering and pain — as well as the dreams we'd had of watching her grow up to be the foundation of our breeding program.
And, of course, the very next day, before Melissa's tarp-wrapped body was even in the ground, Eric and I went from the daycare to the doctor's office to the hospital. Our plans for Mark's birthday dinner went completely out the window when, instead of leaving with (as I'd hoped) a prescription that I could fill as I stopped to pick up Mark's cake, I found myself calling my boss to tell her I would not be in to work tomorrow because we had been told to go to the ER. It was like a door had slammed on the world I liked — the world where I had a healthy son and a gorgeous little black filly with a striking white blaze — into a world that was full of stress and confusion and heartbreak and sleepless nights.
Every year, on the 6th, I have awakened and remembered Melissa's death in glorious Technicolor. This is the first year I didn't.
Every year, on the 7th, I have awakened and remembered Eric's diagnosis and his stay in the ICU in little flashes of memory. This year, all I remembered was that it was Mark's birthday.
People say it takes 2 years to fully grieve a loss. That, I submit, is BS. Grief takes however long grief takes. Losing Melissa and losing Eric's health, one atop the other — that was a massive pairing, and the only way I was able to get through it was by recognizing that if one of my two babies had to wind up in the ground, I would rather it were the 4-legged one, all things considered.
I wouldn't say at this point that I'm fully past the grief. But I think we're making progress.
Mark with Sweet Melissa
Eric, 2 days pre-diagnosis
October 4, 2008