“Mom, why do you wear that bracelet again?”
She knows why, but every few months, she asks again. Why do I wear a medical alert bracelet? Why is that thing as important to leaving the house as having my keys?
“I wear it because it says I have diabetes, just in case someone needs to know.”
“Why would they need to know?”
“In case I wasn’t able to say it myself. Like if we happened to be in an accident or something, or if I was asleep.”
She thinks about this.
“Is this why we have a house phone?”
“Yes.” She knows the reason but asks anyway. We decided to get a landline telephone in the event that there was a storm that knocked the power out, or if we had a babysitter and needed to call the house. Or if my husband or children ever needed to call 911 on my behalf. “We have a house phone on the waaaaay off chance that I’d have trouble waking up because of a low blood sugar. You know, if I was passed out.”
I forget that the words we use matter. That they are easily confused and conflated. That she’s just a little kid.
“Yes, but that’s a very rare thing. It hasn’t ever happened to me. It probably won’t ever happen, but it’s smart to be prepared, just in case.”
It was then that I remember hearing her and her friend talking about her friend’s grandmother, who had recently passed away.
“OUT, honey. Not AWAY. Passed out means I would be having trouble waking my brain and body up and need extra help. Not dead. It’s very different,” I scooped her up and held her close, aiming to hug the panic away from her as I listed all the reasons why passed out was different from passed away and also how it wouldn’t ever happen to me, right? Right.
The reality of my own thoughts every night before bed stood in contrast to the confidence in my voice talking to Birdy. The thought is fleeting, but also sharp and cuts through my mettle, reminding me that diabetes looks easy and seems quiet but exists with an undercurrent of worry.
And I’m learning that I’m not the only one who worries.