com·mu·ni·ty kǝ-‘myü-nǝ-tē\ n.
1. A unified body of individuals.
We were blessed to spend our Thanksgiving this year with a wonderful group of new friends. This group of people has been working together, living together, and celebrating together throughout the evolution of life over the past ten-plus years. They are singles, couples, parents and children, and soon-to-be-parents. The group has shifted and changed over time, but their core values persevere:
Love. Compassion. Support. Joy. Family.
Put into practice, these values result in acceptance, generosity, genuine interest in the lives and hearts of other people, true emotional connection, and gatherings that are dang fun.
Something new that my brood and I bring to the group is diabetes. Insulin, pumping, finger sticks, hypos, infusion sets, middle-of-the-night alarms, carbohydrate counting–these are things that are now so pervasive in our lives that I’ve almost completely lost the perspective of life without diabetes. Spending extended time like this with new friends makes me more aware of just how burdensome and strange it all can be.
For example, another mom in the group offered to take Luke home with her from the park we were all at to play with her son, and it took me nearly a full 60 seconds of silent internal deliberation, calculation, and trouble-shooting to even answer her. And then I had to give The Plan. And then I made mental notes about absolute times when I was going to need to call and check-in. Would 1 hour be too long? I’m sure I seemed like a crazy person.
And did I wake anyone when I was shuffling through the house, barely conscious at 3 o’clock in the morning, to maneuver through a pile of sleeping kids and check blood sugars? Did anyone notice the vacant stare I adopt when my kids sit down with a plate of food and I’m mentally analyzing and calculating the carbohydrate content? That fleeting look of panic when someone starts to cut up pie?
The great thing about this cohesive group was their acceptance and attendant willingness to learn about what makes our world go ’round. People asked questions. They talked to my kids about their experiences and were interested in the answers. They watched me change infusion sets and dial in boluses, asked me about food and routines, and just genuinely cared about us.
And that’s what is so valuable about being part of a community. Whether it’s a small group of friends and family, a church or social circle, a local support group, or the larger cultural or medical communities, it’s valuable and vital to be able to share your struggles, burdens, accomplishments and joys with people who share some common thread. A common unity.
Everyone needs a community.