Over the weekend, in the ridiculous downpour, I headed up to Clara Barton Camp to hear Dar Williams sing.  Dar is on a summer camp tour, and she ended her stint by singing to a group of girls whose pancreases (pancrei) have gone on hiatus.

Dar doesn’t have diabetes.  And when I spoke with her after she performed, she told me that she was moved by the campers at Clara Barton, getting to know what type 1 diabetes is all about.  “They have an energy that’s just unparalleled.” 

Kerri Sparling, Dar Williams, and a painting of the pond that supposedly has two snapping turtles in it.

Snapping pics with the lovely Dar Williams 
(and thanks to Julia R. for offering to camera-wrangle!)

I’m not that familiar with Dar’s music (though she has a lovely voice), but she was engaging and sweet and her talent is obvious.  She played a few songs in that old CBC barn, and had everyone laughing and singing, and when she asked for requests, a group of CBC staffers raised their voices together from the back:

Family!  Family!!”

Dar smiled (after cupping her hand to her ear and saying, “Emily?  What?  Ooh, FAMILY!”), and the room quieted down as she began to strum her guitar.

I’ve never heard the song before.  Dar told us that it was written by a friend, about another friend who had passed away, and the lyrics spoke to that collective mourning and healing.  She sang alone for a beat or two, but the campers and staffers joined in after a moment.  

“You are my family, 
You are my family. 
We stood outside in the summer rain, 
Different people with a common pain.”

The rain was still falling outside, on a humid August day.  Hearing her sing those lines grabbed me, even though I knew they were intended for a different cause, but they applied to the room.  A room full of pump wires and insulin pens and glucose meters.  Some girls were smiling.  Others were hugging the person sitting next to them, crying openly and without any fear whatsoever.  

Different people with a common pain.

Clara Barton Camp is home for so many, even those of us who barely visit anymore.  It’s the place where I first saw a community of people with diabetes.  It’s the first place I felt like needles were no big deal.  It’s the only place I’d ever felt “normal,” until the online community began its journey.  

Even though I barely knew a soul in that room, they are my family.  That’s how it works.  And that’s an incredible thing.