As I approach my 40th birthday, I find my friends and I talking more and more about how things used to be, what we used to look like, what we used to do in our lives before kids….we’ve done a lot of reflecting back on the “good old days” and what we think of ourselves now as compared to then, whenever “then” may be.
Andy Bernard from The Office kind of summed it up for me in the series finale when he said, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”
In 1994, I didn’t know I was in the “good old days before diabetes.” (I also had no clue about how to style my hair or wear sweaters that didn’t look like my grandma lived in the southwest and knitted them for me. Oh, 90s – you were so cruel in the fashion-less sense that you gave me.) This picture was taken literally days before my diagnosis. I see a healthy, young, fresh face with big Brooke Shields eyebrows. I was dating a boyfriend (that I should have broken up with months ago, but instead, he broke up with me post-diagnosis. Creep.), was still in college, still not knowing what I would “be” when I grew up. I vaguely remember this day at a family get together – laughing at some awful joke my Dad told, trying to get my Mom to let me take a picture of her, hugging my grandparents, cousins, aunts & uncles….and it’s blatantly devoid of diabetes. I had no clue how dramatically my life was about to change. Ignorance was bliss.
Fast forward to today…..I look nothing like this picture. I’ve had type 1 diabetes for almost 19 years. I am married to a loving & devoted husband, I have a beautiful & healthy daughter, and work as a Project Manager at a tech company. (Me? Technical? Funny.) Since that day in 1994, my grandparents and my Dad have passed away. I have loved and lost many people, and many things. I had the joy of owning and being owned by a miniature schnauzer named Xena for almost 13 years. I’ve experienced many accomplishments and failures. Met goals, and thrown other goals aside. I’ve seen some friends come and go, made new friends, and had many friends and family by my side through thick and thin.
And even though I frequently reminiscence about “good old days” like the ones before my diagnosis, or the ones in college with my friends when I was thin and carefree….I can’t help but take a moment to appreciate that THESE are also now the good old days. I love where I am and who I’ve become. I love my family. I love my friends. I love my life – as hectic and painful as it can sometimes be, and as hard and frustrating as it is with diabetes in it, it is still mine, and everything that has happened before now led me up to this point. Every day is not bliss, and I have my share of struggles, but that is life. Today is my last day of being 39, and tomorrow I will be 40. While it may just be another milestone birthday in the grand scheme of life, I do recognize that I have so much to be thankful and hopeful for…maybe I should catalog this era as the “good new days” instead.