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Life Is What Happens to You While You’re Busy Making Other Plans

Written exclusively for bümo by Brody Van Brocklin and Cara Loren, parents of 3.

"And so, as parents, Brod and I look forward, with hope, to every single day that we have to teach and be taught by the ones we love most, our children."

Let’s be honest, Hanes being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 8 years old definitely wasn’t part of the “other plans” we had, but last night that’s what happened. And it felt like, and still does feel like a weird, scary, frustrating, painful, overwhelming dream. To see your son suffer and bear a burden that seems unfair is tough. Like really tough. Like lots of tears tough.

It quickly brings to mind the questions of why… “Why him? Why now? Why not me?” And I will be honest, I don’t have all the answers to those questions. Maybe it’s a product of living in a fallen world. Maybe it’s part of a developmental plan, one that requires patience and unfolds line upon line. Maybe it’s because hard things happen sometimes, even to our kids, that are the purest of us all. Maybe it’s genetic, environmental, stressor-related, or all of the above. I really don’t know. Those answers are heavy and probably come on someone else’s watch. 

But here’s what I do know…Love always hopes. The outpouring of love for our young warrior has left us in awe. From phone calls and messages, to visits and more messages and more phone calls and texts, we have felt the love in an incredible and profound way. I’ve read that in times of distress, God will send His angels “round about you, to bear you up.” I think maybe He meant to say he would send family, and friends, and kind words, and hugs, and tears, and advice, and smiles, and prayers, and experience, and more family and friends, and many of you…to bear us up. Let me tell you, we feel it. And so does Hanes. And as Hanes told me tonight just before falling asleep on his hospital bed, after his 6th shot of the day, he looked up with that innocent and toothless grin and said, “Dad, I sure can’t wait to play in next week’s game.”

We got this. Hanes. You are my hero. And to each of you…

So, Brody wrote the above the day after Hanes’s diagnosis. He has a way with words that somehow captured exactly what we were feeling, thinking, and struggling with at the time of his diagnosis. So now here we are…a month and a half later, and of course, we have it all figured out. Just kidding. We are so far from having it figured it out. Every single day is a learning/mistake-making experience as to how we should best be parenting and caring for not only Hanes (and his new challenge of Type 1 Diabetes), but also our other two kiddos, Arrow and Echo.

It’s tough, and it’s tiring, and emotions tend to run higher than before and are felt deeper than before, and finding the right balance is honestly and sincerely a daily struggle. But guess what…it is getting better, even if by a smallest fraction of improvement, and it is worth every second of heartache, fatigue, and struggle. The overall experience of the opportunity we have to be the parents of these amazing souls is worth every second. Brody often says that “life is about progress, it’s about doing better than we did before, because we can.” And looking back on the past month and a half since Hanes’s diagnosis of Type 1, this phrase could not ring more true.  Because of amazing doctors, technology, and resources, both Hanes and our ability to help him manage this condition, has vastly improved. Because of our crash course in education regarding Diabetes, Hanes now better understands and recognizes why he feels the way he does based on what his blood glucose levels are, and all of us now have a better understanding on how to treat those levels and adjust when they are not at an optimal state. We are also making progress in the manner in which we handle the stress/worry that can be brought on with Type 1 Diabetes. We don’t panic as much (key words, “as much”) when he has highs and lows, but rather we address them, follow the steps to help him get feeling better, and trust the process

The most important progress or improvement that has been made…our son is feeling better. He is back to the goofy, smiley, teasing, fun-loving dude that he has always been. He is playing on a daily with his brother and sister, and back on the basketball court with his buddies. He definitely has times that are frustrating and times that he doesn’t feel so well, but overall, Hanes is happier and healthier than he was before, there is nothing that brings us more joy than seeing that. He knows that this diagnosis and new challenge is just that, a challenge that will be with him for the rest of his life, but he also knows that this will not limit him in chasing his dreams and doing whatever he wants to do with this gift of life. 

Through all of this, I have been reminded time and time again that the health of those we love is invaluable and irreplaceable. I have also been reminded that some of the little daily stressors that might affect me with work, social pressures, living up to expectations, etc, etc….are so seemingly insignificant when it comes to the big picture. What really matters to me, are the relationships I have with those I love. My husband, my children, my family, my friends, and others that continue to touch my life for good in a way that could not have been possible otherwise. My faith. My hopes. My dreams. My struggles. That is what matters to me. And so, as parents, Brod and I look forward, with hope, to every single day that we have to teach and be taught by the ones we love most, our children.

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