poignant moments in my 'd' life
this is gonna be different. way different. I can feel it. different than my usual blog posts. I'm thinkin' that's a good thing every once in awhile. give it a chance... I hope it says something. maybe it's just intended for me... but then again...
For some reason, last night some of the 'seemingly random moments' in my 'd' life all came rushing back to me. It happened in a flash... I was struck by just how connected they all seemed to be. Somehow... some way... connected. Just as all of us are... Some of the memories were of warm and fuzzy moments. Some fun ones. Some tragic... I began to write...
My friend Lanny was diabetic. Had been as long as long as I had known him. I think we met when I was 2. Our parents were friends. We did everything together. Everything little boys can get into; year after year, if it could be eaten, poked, prodded, thrown, smashed, burned, or uh, smelled, we did. lol Everything except for the 'shot thing'. Lanny did that alone. And he didn't talk about it much. The last time I saw him, we were 9. My family moved to another town far away, and I never saw Lanny again. I remember my mom saying on a few occasions through the years that Lanny wasn't doing so well, and wasn't taking such good care of himself. Something about he was tired of all this, it was his life... I never really thought too much about what she said. I was immortal and invincible, everyone was, right? When I became diabetic at 17, I decided to look for Lanny. His family had moved a few times, but after much searching, we were finally able to track down his parents. I was so excited. I was going to get to see my buddy again, and tell him how, in a funny little way, we were now even more alike than ever! It wasn't to be. Lanny had died a month before I was diagnosed.
In 6th grade, the school asked for volunteers to help tutor one of the kids who was in a wheel chair, and was having a bit of a hard time after suffering a recent setback. It was Mark, a boy I had known since 4th grade in Ms. Capps class. I remember we both had a crush on Ms. Capps. I brought her a bottle of perfume for Christmas. It was a 'tester' bottle they gave away at the mall. Mark brought her a red cap, and a green one too... you know, since her name was Capps. We laughed about that... When they asked for volunteers, for whatever reason everyone looked at me... Now I have to tell you, in 6th grade, I was about as dorky of a short runt as you will ever find. I didn't grow until some time later. In my mind though, I was a giant. And handsome. All the things I wasn't... yet. lol. That day, though, I stepped out of the crowd without hesitating, went up to a sign that had been placed on the wall, and signed up for every Tuesday and Thursday for the next two months. That was as far as the calendar went. And so it was, the next Tuesday I found myself walking over to Marks house. "Why had I done this?", I thought. "I like Mark, he's funny and has always been nice to me, but I don't really know him all that well. Besides, it's cold out here, and I'm hungry." I thought about turning around and just going the other direction. I didn't. When I walked into Marks room, his face lit up like a he was standing at the entrance to Disney-World holding a lifetime pass with the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders lined up on each side of his room calling out his name over and over and over. In reality, the effort it took him to show any kind of expression was more than Herculean, as his face was somewhat paralyzed from the recent stroke he'd suffered. It didn't matter though, his eyes told me everything his mouth was struggling to say. I helped him with his school work, and then we played some games until it was time for me to go home. I didn't feel the cold so much on the way home, and the snacks Mark's mom had brought in had more than filled me up. I felt at least a foot taller too. "Yeah, I'm going back on Thursday" I thought. And I did. And then again the following Tuesday. And Thursday... I did this for two more weeks, and each time I did Mark looked stronger and seemed a little more like his old self, except now his parents had to help him do his 'shot'. A few days later, I was getting ready to head to Marks house on a Friday after school for a special get together his parents were having for everyone who had been helping when the phone rang. I remember the look on mom's face as she hung up the phone. "Tim, that was your school principal letting us know that... Tim... Mark died this morning. Honey. I'm so very sorry." "He... what? But I just saw him last night!?!"
Mark died in his sleep from a massive stroke caused when his bg crashed during the night. Some months later I received a letter from the school, with words thanking me for the extraordinary sacrifice I had made to help Mark. I remember thinking they'd given the letter to the wrong boy. I still have the letter. Every so often I look at it. It reminds me...
Julie, Jeff, and John
Not long after that, one day during lunch, Julie, one of the cheerleaders and one of the prettiest and most popular girls in school came up to the table where I and two of my friends, Jeff and John were eating lunch at. "Can I talk to you?", she asked. I looked around. I just knew that rat Bobby Hinkle had put her up to it. But I didn't see anyone. My friends Jeff and John ribbed me hard and said, 'Go get her stud". I turned about a thousand shades of red, but got up and went with her, leaving my lunch behind. We went outside to a little garden area and sat on a bench. Clueless, I sat there for a minute, and then summoned the courage to say,"So, what can I do for you"? in the deepest mid-puberty 'alto/soprano/baritone/soprano voice I could muster (ok, nice move Mr. Smooth lol) In reality, I was just hoping she didn't notice how I was sitting on my hands, having no clue what to do with them, and hoping to hide the sweat that had begun dripping off of them the second she said "...talk to you"... She seemed so calm, so sophisticated, so... together... She took my hand, and we sat there for a minute. ok, WAIT JUST A MINUTE! BACK UP! Yeah, she took my hand, and she didn't even say "ewwww, it's all sweaty!" She just took it, and we sat there. And then she said. "I just wanted to say thank you for what you did to help Mark. He was one of my very good friends. We go to camp together every summer.. or well, we did. You see, I am diabetic too." She raised her shirt-sleeve to show me her medical alert bracelet. On the outside edges, she had glued little rhinestones. By this time I was in love... I noticed off to the side, just out of view stood my friends Jeff and John, giggling, pointing, making faces, and all sorts of uh... sounds....... trying to make me laugh. I didn't. This was serious, we were talking about Mark, and diabetes, and she had it too. She said, "Anyway, I just wanted to say how much Mark enjoyed you coming over every Tuesday and Thursday." I asked how she knew when I had gone to Marks house. She said, "I had the time after yours, and saw you walking home sometimes. I waved, but you didn't see me in our car. I wanted to tell you what Mark said the day before he died." I wasn't so sure I wanted to know... "He told me that he looked forward to your visits so much, because you didn't treat him any differently, and made him feel like you really cared." And as I was saying "I did care,", she reached up, and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I was never the same again...
I guess somebody must have eaten my lunch that day. I know I didn't. I stayed in the little garden with my new friend. And everyday after that. I invited Jeff and John to come and eat with us every day too, but they never would. And after school, when I would go to their house to do stuff like we always had, they were always busy. Finally, one day, about 3 weeks later, I saw them in the hallway and said ,"Hey guys, why won't you ever come eat with us? Would you rather we come and eat at the table with you?" They said, "No, you just stay with your new girlfriend and all her friends, you think you're so cool now anyway." I was confused. These were the guys I had been friends with since elementary school. They turned and walked away. And they never talked to me again. I tried a few more times, then simply moved on. It was a turning point for me.
'd' had taken Mark, and now it had sort of taken my friends too. That was sad.
You know, I've always had a tons of friends and can meet people just about anywhere, but to this day I'm still not sure what 'cool' is. I'm just me. I'm comfortable with who I am, no matter if I have one friend or a thousand. I've always been that way, but in some small little way, I think that's one of the positive things 'd' does for just about all of us.
I became diabetic when I was 17. It was my senior year of high school. I was president of one of the school organizations, had a ton of friends, and was completely enjoying life as I knew it. If I wasn't hangin' with friends then I was either... well, I can actually only remember hangin' with friends... I know I did a lot of other things, but evidently they weren't as memorable. Except for Julie. You remember Julie don't you? She had been my girlfriend for quite a while after that day back in 6th grade, and she and her friends had 'adopted me.' Or maybe I adopted them lol. In 10th grade, her dad got a new job, and they moved. We lost touch after a while, but guess what? We found each other again a few years ago, and still keep in touch. In fact, she's here on TU, and yes, we're TU buddies. (Hey Jules!!! Look, it's me, timbo bobo babycheeks LOL) :-) btw, she uses a different screen name, so I doubt you'd know it was her. She has a great family, and so far she and Tom's children show no signs of 'd'. I'm grateful. One more thing, she did say to pass on that she 'still' doesn't like some of my music choices lol.
When I became diabetic in 12th grade, I wished my friend Julie had been around, she would have held my hand again and told me exactly what to do. But that was ok, there were plenty of other friends to help me adjust. There was a guy named Ben who was a few years older than I was. Our parents were friends. He was in college, or at least he had been. He was a diabetic, but had also been diagnosed with liver cancer. He was taking some time off from school during his chemo treatments. He called when he heard about my diagnosis. "Hey man, why don't we get together and hang, I can show you stuff and you can ask me questions." I don't remember exactly why, but for some reason, our 'busy schedules' never matched up right away... it took about 2 months before we could get together. He said it'd be easier if I came to his house. When I got there, his mom met me at the door, and said,"Go right on in, Ben is in the back room. We converted it, the stairs were just getting to be too hard." hmm, ok, hadn't thought about that... Ben was sitting at his desk when I walked in. He spun around much slower than I would have thought. For a guy of 19, he....... whoa, he's in a wheelchair. I was taken aback how much he resembled Mark... Mark from 6th grade...
Ben talked for hours and hours. About everything. And he asked me so many questions... it was like he couldn't hear enough about what everyone was doing. He wanted to know about all of the people we both knew, he wanted to know what all of the girls were doing, what they looked like, what they were wearing, who they were dating. He hadn't seen any of them in two years. He soaked it all in like a man who'd been in the desert without water... And he had. A desert called 'd', and now 'c'. The big one.
Ben died a few weeks later.
'd', how is it you and your sh-tty little friends know exactly how to find the most vulnerable among us to dump your extra large helping of sh-t on? Well, ok, enjoy it while it lasts. Your days are numbered. Mine however... they last for all eternity.
And I smiled... :-)
Manny, thank you for having the vision, and turning it into reality. What you do, for all of us, truly matters...