I've got this dad, see. His name's Dayton... no joke. It's his first name. Actually it's his middle name, but he uses it like a first name because his actual first name is, uhm... weird.
Anyway, I've got this dad named Dayton, and you know how we think of dads as being protective of their kids? Well, I'm the baby in the family, and I was diagnosed with type 1 when I was smaller than our family dog and looked like a blonde, blue-eyed angel (I say it humorously, although apparently I really did), and my dad, Dayton, wishes it had never happened.
Okay, he's never actually told me that, but I'm pretty sure it's true.
Another thing we sometimes associate with dads is that they're reluctant to express their feelings. Right here my dad would say "I'm not reluctant to express my feelings! I just don't feel anything!" and then he'd laugh. My dad Dayton is eager to express certain feelings: joy, goofyness, curiosity, enthusiasm, love, support, excitement, determination... He's good with the good stuff, and he's got the good stuff in spades.
Can you guess what he doesn't really express? Of course you can. He doesn't talk about feeling scared or sad or angry or regretful... the tough stuff. I have never, in 34 years with diabetes, seen him so much as get misty about it. And I know it's not because he doesn't get misty about it...
Here's the story of the one time I ever witnessed what he feels about my diabetes:
I must have been about 7, and I was suffering from terrible, chronic insomnia. We're talking 4 hours trying to get to sleep every night. I'd had it on and off since I was a baby, when a doctor prescribed me some crazy (and probably no longer available) sleep aids so my parents could get some relief from my all-night tirades of furious, exhausted frustration. Well, so this one night when I was about 7 I couldn't sleep and I was my usual mess, and my blood sugar dropped. I was a runty kid. And angry. I was prone to spectacular temper tantrums, had absolutely no concept of their potential consequences... and looked like an angel right up until I started spitting fire.
Insomnia + hypoglycemia + raging little kid = nothing good. I'm beyond exhaustion, will never get to sleep and I've got diabetes? Someone's gonna pay for this, and it's going to be anyone within shouting distance. My dad got out of bed. I guess it was his turn, or maybe my folks compared notes and decided he had a bit more compassion to spare in that moment. He bravely faced the Herculean task of feeding and calming me, and trying to get me to sleep. My poor dad.
He succeeded. Or at least he managed to feed and calm. And then came The Moment. I was lying in bed, on my back, and he thought I was finally asleep, but I wasn't. He was sitting on the floor next to me. My dad, Dayton, gently put his arm over me, inclined his head an inch over my stomach, and took a long, deep breath. And my miserable, desperate 7-year-old heart felt it: sorrow.
And then he got up and went back to bed. And I've seen only the determination and enthusiasm ever since.