I am pleased to present a current full section of my upcoming book, Dear Warriors, to you in its entirety. It's still months and hours of editing away from publishing, but I hope you enjoy it and I look forward to hearing your constructive editing suggestions and responses in the comments section or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|A piece 10 years old still resonated with Dear Warriors
Artist: Lindsay May, 18
Age at diagnosis: 4
Title: Touched by T1D
Lindsay drew this when she was probably 9 or 10.
Heads, Shoulders, Knees & Toes
Lindsay May’s drawing made me think of my own youth. I remember countless times where we’d trace our hands or bodies for a variety of art projects. (What kid from the US hasn’t made at least one Thanksgiving turkey that way, for example.) Our hands are a great starting point of expression. Lindsay’s is an old image of such a project, clearly created in response to a question on diabetes.
This section, “Bringing the Warrior Together”, covers topics on how all of us can work with all our parts (body, mind and spirit) to build ourselves as successful Warriors. That “work” is a combination of our current conditions, sustained efforts, and our circumstances. Our parts are like building blocks that can be molded both individually and as a whole. Molded. Lindsay’s word choice was “touched”. Many things touch and mold us. None, by themselves, are us.
Considering her body, she drew physical items of diabetes (a medical bracelet and insulin pump) and a fix to her body so she would no longer have this physical condition. Her choices of “Peace!” and “happiness” speak of her mind goals- goals all Warriors can readily get behind. Her connections to spirit revolve around two concepts: “Love!” and “Support” from others. Every last one of us needs both of those! Peace, love and cure- one from each of our parts- are the three words she emphasized with exclamation points. And yet, only one of those is specific to diabetes.
To me, the sweetest and deepest part of this image is the hearts. One on every digit. I wrote an entire essay on my hands and fingers that you’ll find in a few pages. Yes, we’re touched by painful things, including diabetes. All Warriors can also be, and should be, touched by love. From within and without.
Hearts, hands, and happiness reminded me of another childhood memory: the old children’s song I’m using as the title. Do you also recollect its goofy cadence? I remember numerous occasions where laughter echoed about as we scrambled as a group through all kinds of crazy speeds and variations of this song. Parts. Hands. Hearts. Whole. Together.
Now it’s time to explore how we can use all our parts together to be our strongest selves.
What in each of my parts makes me happy? What am I most proud of, that I’d include in my own song of appreciation? Who can I dance it with? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Weathering Our Dark Days
T1D attacks the body, which can affect the mind, as shown by Natalie’s work on page 46, harming the connections we have though the spirit. Can the mind be used to help rebuild that balance and allow us to chart a new course for all three parts? I believe so. Please allow me to paint a movie scene:
There’s a Warrior at night in a cold, soaking rain. Although set in a huge city of dank, concrete and steel towers, they stand alone on a sketchy, abused corner. They fidget. Dark alleys cut left and right into unknown blankness, and while the gear is heavy, they embrace its weight. It’s solid and true. It promises relative safety. As the downpour continues, the Warrior wriggles to adjust the icy grip their fingers have on their backpack’s sodden straps.
The Warrior feels a negative voice trying to drench their soul like the rain. It washes everything in relentless cold. They struggle to remain in the pool of light cast by the streetlight of Hope, but it flickers. Tension rises. The Warrior may become lost in the shadows of Doubt, far beyond Hopes glimmering globe, as they hear the pounding voice of defeat in their head:
No point. Too hard. Doesn’t matter. Why bother. Why.
Then the thunder rolls. You’re not good enough. You screwed up. You deserve this and then some. Give it up, you can’t do it and you never will. Huge what-if scenarios form in my mind: daunting castles from the tiny blocks of fear, frustration, anger and worry. The Warrior freezes in doubt.
Warriors of all shapes and kinds face these real and imagined scenes all the time. How do we face them? How do we get through them?
When life is bright, I can easily say and believe that neither the good nor bad will last forever. That’s when I, and all Warriors, need to pay attention and prepare themselves and their gear. Before the storms and darkness.
Warriors face storms. Forests do, as well. Unlike people, trees are unable to move aside. They must have steady roots and flexible limbs to endure. Their networked branches can spread the burden safely and offer shelter. Those connections don’t happen overnight.