Today marks 7 years since you were diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
I remember getting home from the hospital and once you were safely tucked up in bed, I started scouring the internet for information and joining support groups to try and make sense of our new world.
During these searches, I came across posts from people who were celebrating their child’s “diaversary”, otherwise known as the anniversary of their diagnosis, and I’m not going to lie, I was appalled.
What on earth was there to celebrate? How could they be celebrating the worst day of their lives? The mere thought of it, made me feel sick.
But then as I read on, I realised that it wasn’t the diagnosis itself that they were celebrating, but what they had achieved in spite of it.
In the last 7 years, you have endured over 700 insulin injections, over 20,000 blood tests and over 750 cannula insertions. Having needles stuck into you is part of your daily routine. You are frequently woken in the middle of the night to drink apple juice and there are days when you are exhausted from a night, blighted by hypos.
But you never moan, you never complain and you have the best attitude to life that I have ever known.
In the last 7 years, despite what you have had to endure, you have achieved so much more than I ever thought possible and there are so many things that I am grateful for.
I am grateful for your older brother. The one who is there for you no matter what. The one who gets to try everything out before you have to, so that when your time comes, he can reassure you and tell you that everything will be fine.
I am grateful for our large network support. Family and friends that are not scared to learn and are determined to be able to look after you, so that we feel supported and can go to work knowing you are in capable hands. I know it’s a cliché but family really is everything, please never forget that as you get older.
I am grateful for the way technology has advanced since your diagnosis. We have gone from two injections a day and a really restrictive routine to eating whatever you want, whenever you want and checking your blood sugar on your Apple Watch. It’s insane how much things have improved in such a short time and I am so excited to see what the future brings for you.
I am grateful for all the holidays we have enjoyed since your diagnosis. For such a long time, I was afraid to take you anywhere further than an hour from home in case something happened. But, an Orlando holiday in the October of 2012 had already been arranged before we found out about your condition and so once we nailed that, we never looked back!
I am grateful for the amazing support you receive in school. The fact that you are included in everything makes such a huge difference to your wellbeing and no matter how many gifts I buy or thank you cards I write, I will never be able to truly convey my gratitude to the absolute angels who support you every single day.
I am grateful for your friends. You have such a lovely group of friends, some from school, some from rugby and some from the caravan. You are never happier than when you are with them and I hope you keep these friendships as you grow and continue to have each other’s backs, always.
I am grateful for your love (and talent) for rugby. Ever since you could kick a ball, all you have ever wanted to be is a rugby player.
I have never known a child to sit and watch back to back rugby matches like you do, without getting bored. Rugby is your life and all you want to do is play it professionally. You can call a decision on television before the referee and your knowledge of the game is outstanding for your age.
You spent years supporting your brother, travelling to tours and tournaments and counting down the days until it was your turn to wear the Zebras kit, and when that time came, you amazed us!
Your tackling technique is outstanding and I’ve lost count of how many times I have been told that, not only by our own supporters, but also by the opposition. You are strong, brave and determined and I am never prouder than when I am on that side-line every Sunday morning.
I am grateful for the people that have raised money towards a cure. In fact, I am blown away by how many people have given up their time and money to be able to compete in races and competitions. People have pushed themselves physically to their very limit, and they have done it for you, and only you. Please never forget the support you have received and the love that people have shown for you. If we ever get that elusive cure, it will be because of them.
But most of all, my beautiful, brave boy (I can imagine you rolling your eyes at this point) I am grateful for you! For your positive, can do attitude. For your glass always being half full and for you being up for anything, the more dangerous the better. Nothing stops you, nothing gets you down and you are one of the most positive people I have ever known. I truly believe if I could bottle your personality and sell it, I would be a millionaire and I sometimes wonder what I ever did to deserve you.
I will never forget the day we came home from the hospital and I had to give you your first ever injection. I took it out of the container and you said “No Mammy, I’m better now, I don’t need my magic pen any more!” and I looked at your little face and broke down in hysterics. And at that point, you were so concerned for me you said “It’s ok Mammy, don’t be sad, I’ll have my magic pen!” and that was that.
You see, everyone told me that I had to be strong for you. But since that day, you are the one that has been strong for me.
On rough days, when I am struggling, I only have to be in your company for 5 minutes before I am laughing. We have such similar personalities, it is frightening; the same sense of humour and the same love of sarcasm. Quite often, something dramatic will happen, we will look at each other across the room, both roll our eyes and then explode into laughter.
You keep me (relatively) sane, you keep me strong and you make me laugh every single day.
Everyone should have a Finley in their life and the world would be a much better place.
I love you so much more than you will ever know.
Please don’t ever change.
All my love always,
PS I know you said you probably won’t have time to read this tomorrow as “you know Mam, I’ve got rugby and then we are going to Pizza Hut” but it’s 2am and I have been writing this for hours and so if you could find time in your busy schedule to fit it in, I would be most grateful! xx