Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Diabetes is a sailboat.

13 years ago I was told to put my child in a sailboat. Alone. He was to journey out to sea and I was not allowed to escort him.

You can imagine the fight I put up. I yelled and pleaded. I dropped to my knees and bargained with God. I had a fit. But alas, my flailing was fruitless...he was literally taken out of my arms and thrown into the boat. I was given no choice. He had Type 1 Diabetes and there was no going back. He could not stay on shore. He could not live without the boat...it was part of him now.

I watched the boat go out to sea and I cried for what felt like forever. The world seemed to be in constant motion, while I was stuck on pause...mourning his separation from the shore.

The viciousness of the waves were horrifying.

My child was helpless.

I was helpless.

I would have done anything to be on that boat. I willed his diabetes to enter my body so I could switch places with him. But apparently, that isn't how it works.


I was given two tools to help my son. A telescope and limited control over the weather.

I have vigilantly had my eye set to that telescope for 13 years. There have been long stretches when I wouldn't leave the scope. I wouldn't shower. I wouldn't eat.

I have had comments throughout the years that my attention would be better placed somewhere other than the boat.

What they don't understand is that my child is on that boat. My heart. My soul. How could I ever walk away from my scope?

My one advantage is, with insulin and food, I can sometimes control the weather. I can smooth the waves and bring him close to shore. On those days it almost feels he is on land with me. On those days we dance together and laugh, and joke that the ocean has nothing on us.

But other days the storms come in out of nowhere. The black clouds close in and the numbers ebb and flow with the powerful tide. On those days, I watch my son ride those waves and I spend the day at my scope...determined to change the color of the clouds. If his boat capsized...I don't know what I would do.

Sure...he is above water. Sure...he is surviving. But on the stormier days his sea sickness weighs so heavy on my shoulders, I'm sure I am going to run out of strength, and one day drown into despair myself.

My son has grown up on his boat, and I am in awe every day of his constant vigilance, and his nimble control of his craft. He is an able captain now. He can hoist the sail, he can watch for the storm clouds. He can batten down the hatches. He can steer that boat away from immediate danger...he FEELS the sea. His intuition is inspiring.

Three boats I have set out to sea. It does not get easier. Every boat I have released has killed me a little bit inside. My husband and I live our lives on the shore waiting for storms, hoping for sun...watching each and every wave.

It is exhausting. It is tedious.

But on the summerlike days, when the boys drift closer to our reality...they hitch their boats together. With their boats abreast, we can sit together and watch the sun set on the horizon and know that we can do this. We see the other boats adrift in the ocean, and their resolve and optimism lifts our spirits.

A bit ironic that the most amazing views...the most amazing perspectives...can be seen only from a boat.

No, it isn't easy. It isn't fair. The children with their feet on land are behind us, ever present...running around with no cares.

They don't have an entire craft to navigate. If a storm comes in they can simply get in their cars and their parents can drive them home. They are not required to have constant courage or patience. They are not required to grow up quickly to take on captaining their own ship.

They are free to run.

Freedom. A gift my boys yearn for.

Freedom from navigating. Freedom from weather.

Diabetes is a sailboat.

Adrift in the sea.

The boats rock gently tonight. I can see my sons at the helms. Their silhouettes against the nights sky.

Each one, every bit a hero.

We pray that one day they may set their feet on the sandy shore and rest.

That one day they may find respite from their journey.

Type 1 Diabetes is a sailboat.

And 40 new sailboats take off from the shore, every day.

They aren't just boats underway with numbers in their wake...they are families lives, changed forever.

They are significant.

Every single sailboat is significant.

And every captain, an inspiration.


  1. I love this! And I too await the day all of our sailboats return to shore...

  2. This is absolutely beautiful. What an amazing way to put diabetes in perspective. Hugs to you and the family that they will set their feet on the sandy shore and rest.

  3. Sigh... thanks for my morning cry, Meri. Right now I am watching Elise through my scope ride out a terrible storm and nothing I do for her is helping.

    A perfect, heart-breaking analogy

  4. Meri, I am going to include this with my prep materials for my son's teachers - this is a great analogy and BEAUTIFULLY written.

  5. Geez, Meri, this is one of the most beautiful things I've ever read. You ought to write a book.

  6. What an amazingly visual metaphor, Meri. Thanks so much for this. You are right about it all. Luckily, those of us in the boat(s) have some mighty strong oars and extra sails and pretty awesome life vests given to us by the greatest D-Parents ever. So, we are prepped to battle those darn waves when they come our way - with the weather-watchers helping us as needed. Thanks again!

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  8. Meri~ so eloquent, so beautiful.

    My friend, you are a beacon of light

    You are always shining bright

    even in the darkest night.

    When I need someone to turn to, you are there

    and I know that you always care

    and will follow me anywhere.

    Like a point of light on the edge of the sea

    You are always there for me.

    Thank you for being my Beacon of Light!

    Thank you for your inspiration. <3

  9. Such a poignant truth, painfully so.
    I am glad to have others like you to stand with on the shore, to hold onto when the waves threaten to knock them over.

  10. This is so beautiful. love love love this.

  11. Oh my. How beautifully said, written, expressed.
    You really are an amazing person.

  12. You are a wonderful writer. You make me cry in my afternoon Cocoa Pebbles, but I love it. I want my baby's sailboat back in the harbor. Soon.

  13. Meri,
    your life lived out encourages so many of us!
    So well painted. Go ahead and place me on your book orders - serious! I want a 3D book on my coffee table.

  14. Beautiful! And so heartbreakingly true.

  15. Oh Meri!!! This is absolutely beautiful.

    I'm so thankful to have a friend like you to stand on the shoreline beside me.

  16. beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.
    thank you for this post.
    today was a definitely a storm, but more for us along the shore than the speedy little boat.
    i always love that tomorrow is a new day.
    thanks for your beautiful words meri, a million thanks!

  17. Thanks for the comment info. I noticed that on other blogs but didn't know how to fix. When you get a chance will you pop over and see if I actually fixed it? Thanks Meri.

    Beautiful post. You are a gifted writer.

  18. Holy cow, this is just beautiful and has brought tears to my eyes. You write beautifully and this is a definite keeper. It reminds me of the Holland poem which I am obsessed with. Unfortunately we all understand and pray for that day when they set their feet back on the sand. Wow, wow, wow...beautiful!

  19. "I'm sure I am going to run out of strength, and one day drown into despair myself."

    I can totally relate to that as I scream from the shore the last few days. Like Joanne said... thanks for my morning cry.

  20. This is a beautiful piece of writing and explains so well how we feel as parents watching our children journey through lif with type 1. Thank you. Hope you don't mind I have copied to my D mums Facebook group.

  21. Meri!!! This was amazing! I honestly think you need to publish a book or something! A collection of all your wonderful posts!
    Love it and love you too!!

  22. Being a sailor in real life - and a T1 diabetic of over 40 years - your blog really touched my heart. I'm going to be reposting this on my Facebook wall for all other D-mums and diabetics!

  23. I love it. I feel the very same way even though I haven't been on this journey as long as you have but my heart aches just the same.

  24. It's been said in a hundred comments before this one.
    BEAUTIFUL POST. wow. just wow!

  25. Absolutely brilliant, imaginative, clever, inspirational and emotive. You are a talented lady. I have a facebook page for mums with type 1 children and just had to share it. Keep writing xxx

  26. You have a very special gift for writing. Thank you for sharing it with the DOC and putting our thoughts into eloquent words.

  27. That's an awesome post - that metaphor of living on a sailboat sums up moving into life with T1D. Ever since Luke was diagnosed, that's how I've seen it as well. You boys are very lucky to have each other and the two of you!

  28. Meri, you are AMAZING! Such an awesome metaphor. And so eloquently written. I had tears through the whole thing because I get it.

  29. weeping. openly. thank you for putting our story into such beautiful words.

  30. I could barely finish reading this through my tears. Every, single word is how I feel about my daughter. I just want her on shore, without worry, with rest. Thank you.

  31. I too have set 3 boats out to sea for 3 of my 4 children! My husband too sails alongside them . This is a beautiful verse and means so much too know someone else is feeling the same x

  32. Thank you for this. I have two little sailboats afloat, and hope every day that I don't ever have to send the third out there.


  33. You have put so eloquently into words an analogy that has been hard to explain to others who aren’t going through this. Some days I feel so all alone in my fears for my daughter. Thank you for sharing that we are not alone in feeling this way.

  34. Thank you & bless you it is a beautiful way to tell the struggle of Diabetes. I have a 12 year old son who had struggled for 6 years now but things like this give hope to all who read it xxx

  35. Thank you for putting my heart and soul into words. You sharing this somehow brings me a sense of hope and peace.

  36. Wow. So well put. Thanks for sharing.

  37. Can someone tell me where to find the sailboat picture? I love this and I have one out to sea. I want this in my office!

  38. Your post is now 6 yrs old but I just read it for the first time today. We are just 6 months in to diagnosis with our 7 yr old son. Thank you for putting into words exactly how I feel. I hope that these 6 years have brought far more sunny skies than stormy weather for your 3 boys. ❤️


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