Dressing up was not an issue. I wore my silly costumes proudly and they were always homemade. I was a fairy godmother one year. I was a gypsy for about three years running. Another year I was Bo Peep, complete with sheep.

Then one year, I was diabetic.

When the central focus of the holiday is eating candy, what’s a kid with diabetes to do?

I can’t admit that I remember it being a big deal, but my mother will recount that first Halloween, when she leaned in to give me a kiss and she smelled chocolate on my breath. “I thought it would kill you,” she admitted. That panic, that first taste of unadulterated fear was something my parents felt so I wouldn’t have to. I was just a little six-year-old kid. I was more concerned about whether or not my gypsy skirts were getting tattered on the edges from running through the streets on Halloween night.

In the first few years after my diagnosis, the candy was monitored and handled by my mother. I had a few pieces, a little bit was stashed away as “reaction treaters,” and my brother and sister bartered with me for the rest. My older brother, little sister, and I would sit on the floor after trick-or-treating and pour our pillowcase collections of candy out onto the floor, separating the candy into genre piles – one for chocolate, one for hard candies and gum, and a potluck of the non-candy items like pencils and stickers. Somehow, I usually ended up with all the pencils and stickers as my brother and sister grinned at me with chocolate-stained mouths.

I used to sneak pieces of candy, though. I do remember finding the “reaction treater” stash and cramming five or six mini-Snickers bars into my mouth. The chocolate taste was sickeningly sweet and tasted like a melding of delicious deception. I didn’t get caught but the feeling of guilt I experienced is something I can still feel deep in my stomach if I think about that moment too much.

So now I was a diabetic trick-or-treater. Couldn’t tell by looking at me. In my group of friends, you couldn’t pick me out of that crowd. Which is probably why the cop used his police cruiser intercom to harness my attention.

I was about nine years old, trick-or-treating with my friends in one of their neighborhoods. There were seven or eight of us and we were all costumed and toting pillowcases to carry our bounty.

The headlights came up behind us first, then the swirling red and blue police lights. The intercom squealed on.

“Kerri Morrone?”

We stopped dead in our tracks. No one turned around. My friend Christie whispered loudly to me, “Did he just say your name?”

“Kerri Morrone? We’re looking for Kerri. Is she with you guys?”

My blood ran cold. What could I have possibly done? Did they know I talked during the D.A.R.E. presentation and they were mad about it? Did they find out I had pinched my sister on the arm for telling on me? Oh my God, did they know I sneaked candy every Halloween?

Like a convict on the run finally giving in, I turned around slowly and raised my hand over my head.

“I’m Kerri.”

The intercom squealed to life again. “Please come over to the car.”

I shuffled my shoes, now filled with lead, toward the police cruiser. My friends stood back, clutching their pillowcases and staring.

The window of the police car lowered and revealed the smiling face of Officer Mark, the young D.A.R.E. officer who visited my middle school every fall.

“Hi, Kerri. Sorry to scare you.” The grin on his face was warm and friendly. “You know, my wife is diabetic. She likes this special sugar-free candy. I thought, since you were diabetic too, that you might like some.” He reached to the seat beside him and handed me a white box with a black and orange ribbon tied around it.

Are people aware of the very moment they affect your life forever? The moment that they make you feel less alone?

“Thanks, Officer Mark. Really, thank you. This is awesome. I thought I was in trouble, though!”

His grin became even wider. “Yeah, well you’re not. But make sure you and your friends stay out of it!” He leaned out the window and gestured toward my friends. “Be careful, girls! Have a good night!”

“Bye, Officer Mark!!” they all called in unison.

The next year, I dressed up as a gypsy … again. I was also still a diabetic.

I was okay with being both.