Since James was tiny, he’s had this amazing ability to stay asleep while we’re doing our “diabetes thing” with him. He’ll sleep through insulin injections and pump site changes, and he slurps up juice boxes without waking. Believe me, this is a huge blessing. I think diabetes would be much more stressful for us if James lost as much sleep as we sometimes do!

But every so often, James will wake up just a little bit. Most of the time his eyes remain closed. The only hint of his emerging consciousness is a deep grin. There are no visible teeth and no laughter and, again, eyes are tightly shut. There is just a sweet, contented look that begins to form on his face and slowly deepens. Catching one of his smiles does a lot to transform those anxious nights from drudgery and worry into something rather sublime. It becomes evident that on some level he is grateful that we care for him and recognizes that everything we do in those late-night visits—blood sugar checks, infusion set changes, fixing low blood sugars—is for his health and safety and done out of nothing but pure love.

The other night I was fortunate to spy such a rare and special smile. I was giving James a juice box after having been alerted by our continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system that his blood sugar was dropping fast. This time, I got not only a sweet smile, but for one blessed minute his eyes actually opened, and then he gave me a hug. When the juice box was fully drained he fell right back asleep, and we’ve never actually talked about that moment. But it meant a whole lot to me. It reminded me about love and that every time I have the opportunity to care for James I get to demonstrate how much I love him. It made me think that maybe he sort of understands that.

In those minutes where my eyes rest on his sweet smile, it is really our hearts that are talking to each other, expressing our love and a deeper level of comprehension of this thing, this diabetes, than we can seem to be able to say in words during the daylight hours. Truly, that one smile that says so much makes it all worth it. While the hour is late and the moment seems fraught with worry, when I catch one of those golden smiles I somehow walk away feeling overwhelmingly LUCKY. Lucky to be able to experience everything and all things with James.

Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.

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