It was a beautiful November day in 2013 when I sat waiting for my “Moment that Mattered”. I knew it was coming, but I just didn’t know what kind of moment it was going to be. Glorious sunshine streamed through the windows, horses and sheep, along with the odd chicken, wandered by outside, revelling in the unexpected winter warmth. I, however, while I was aware of all of it, wasn’t really seeing any of it.
All I could see was this unexploded bomb sitting right in the middle of my family. And that November day was the day I was going to find out if the bomb was about to destroy us or if it could somehow be disarmed.
For months now, my Dad had been losing weight with a frightening rapidity. Everyone he met would comment on how slim and svelte he was looking…and every comment was like a knife going through us, because we all knew he was eating just as much as ever. It’s easy to imagine the one thing that was on every family member’s mind…he’s losing weight, he’s getting tired so quickly, so many things…it must be cancer. With one thing and another and, in retrospect, with fear probably playing a huge part, he didn’t get round to going to the doctor, despite my Mum’s repeated pleas for him to do just that. Finally, however, it couldn’t be put off any longer…and there I was, sitting staring blindly out of the window, trying to imagine what life was going to be like when the phone finally rang and we knew what was wrong.
Autopilot somehow got me through the day. By the time evening came, I had gone over almost every conceivable scenario a million times. The one thing of which I was certain was that nothing was ever going to be the same. It’s not that I hadn’t been worrying before then…I’d been taking pictures like crazy, even secretly recording his voice as he sang to and played with the children, just in case. It’s just that now, I actually had to face up to the reality; no more “what ifs” and “maybes” – a few more hours, minutes, seconds and I couldn’t avoid it any longer…we would know the truth.
The phone rang and, with more fear and trepidation than I had ever experienced in my whole life, I answered. It was my hubby, calling to say that he was just heading off to pick my Mum up from the ferry to bring her back to our house. My heart sank. I heard this tiny, scared voice asking him if it was just her who was coming. “Don’t be daft!”, was the response, “Dad’s coming too.” He had no more details for me at that point, so the agony continued.
In they all trooped, chatting away, kids running around delighted to see Grandma and Seanair (Gaelic for Grandad) back. My heart was beating so loudly in my ears that I thought I was going to pass out, but even so, I couldn’t bring myself to ask. I was desperate to know, but equally desperate to remain blissfully ignorant. After what seemed like an eternity, Mum said to Dad that he’d better give us an update. “There’s good news and bad news,” he said, glass of wine in hand and looking years younger already. “The good news is, it’s not cancer.” Now I realised that Mum had had this broad grin on her face since she arrived back on the island and that they both had a bounce in their step that had been missing for so long. Never has the word “diabetes” sounded so sweet. He went on to explain that things were still serious, but with some, admittedly major, dietary and lifestyle changes, along with some medication, things were looking so much brighter than they had been a few short hours before. I heard little more…my daddy was going to be ok…that’s all that mattered. I was quiet for a while, then disappeared upstairs to utter the most heartfelt prayer of thankfulness I have ever said…and also to have a good cry, tears of sheer and utter joy, as well as the release of months of pent up emotion.
That diagnosis was a “moment that mattered” in so many more ways than the obvious though. In the months that have followed, my family and I have learned so much about diabetes (although we have much, much more to learn). We have all become increasingly aware of what is actually in our food and the effects each ingredient can have on our health. However, I think that one of the most important things which has followed on from this “moment that mattered” is my approach to life and my attitude towards my loved ones. Having come so close, or at least having felt like I was coming close, to losing someone so adored and so important to me has made me realise where my priorities lie. The little, annoying things no longer bother me. So what if my parents phone in the middle of a TV programme or if the kids interrupt when I’m at a really intriguing part of a book. Does it matter if a friend pops in to visit when I’ve got something on the cooker? All of these and a myriad of other niggling little complaints no longer feature in my life. I have found a peace and am capable of appreciating every moment, every little thing about all of my family. I know that one day, we will inevitably be separated for a season, but until then, my 2013 “moment that mattered” has given me the encouragement I needed to live life to the full, surrounded by my wonderful family, enjoying and appreciating everyone and everything…even the moments that really don’t seem to matter so much, but are still important in their own special way. Thanks to the diagnostic “moment that mattered”, I’m so indescribably thankful that my Dad, the children’s Seanair, has been able to take his place at the centre of so many more “moments that matter” in all of our lives.
This post is an entry into the Lloyds Bank “Moments that Mattered” competition.