Today, my gym sent an email encouraging us to reflect, and this prompt was particularly appropriate: Name one thing you did this year that you couldn't have imagined 10 years ago.
Ten years ago today, my then 9-year old son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, the same disease that killed my dad just a few years earlier.
I'm a rational person, but that evening, I asked the ER doc in all seriousness when we could do the pancreas transplant.
Those first days were heavy. Counting carbs, doing mathematic equations to get the insulin dose right every time Owen ate, waking up every couple hours to test his blood sugar and act accordingly.
Once we got into that rhythm, we moved to an insulin pump - an experience that did not go well for reasons no one could explain. The pump would fail. Alarms would go off. Rinse and repeat. One particularly frustrating day, Owen asked me, "If we could do a pancreas switch, would you?" Oh honey...I tried.
He didn't want kids at school to know he had it, which worried me. The more people who understand the disease and know the signs of low blood sugar, the better, lest he ever become uncommunicative, and people don't know why or what to do.
We gave extensive instructions to any family hosting him for a sleepover, and you best believe I held my breath a bit until I saw him the next morning.
So...what did I do this year that I couldn't have imagined 10 years ago?
I sent my son who lives with type 1 diabetes to college hundreds of miles away with full confidence that he will thrive.
Here's what I would tell 2013 Kirstin sitting in the emergency room trying to keep a brave face for her son's sake:
He's going to blow you away.
You know he's smart, but he's going to calculate his insulin dose in his head faster than you can type into a calculator and be right every time.
The school nurses are going to refer to him as "the model diabetic" they wish their other T1D students were more like.
He's going to write notes to younger kids who have just been diagnosed to ease their minds.
He's going to form walkathon teams and be recognized as a top volunteer with JDRF.
He's going to change his food choices based on what makes him feel better.
And college? Oh, Kirstin! In the ultimate Godwink, someone is going to reach out to him on social media about rooming together, and Owen will look at his picture and notice he's wearing an insulin pump, too. He will room with that kid, and he will send you a picture of himself with his friends all wearing pink "Diabesties" hats they found in a thirftstore bin.
And you will know your dad's been walking this journey with him all along.