Normally I would be happy to come across an unexpected little funky cafe: one of those rare preserves of hippiedom (except, of course, this is the west coast so it has an espresso machine that also plays chess and composes haiku). There’s an old upright piano painted with a colour called “leftover rec-room/fence blend” with a customer working on his Van Morrison chops. A variety of home schooler kids clamber on the pine trestle tables while the home schooler parents/instructors sit at the other trestle table comparing homespun hats and flax muffins while spooning mashed avocado into the gaping maws of their entry level students.
Under most circumstances I would be smiling at my great good fortune because, while not raised on a diet of peace, love and home made granola, I did spend a considerable amount of my young adult life sucking back mulligatawny squash and barley soup at the High Level Co-Op. This sort of place brings back memories of Perth Country Conspiracy and Stringband concerts–admittedly vague memories for more reasons than just the passage of time. Today, however, I could not afford to go digging around in that tickle trunk of herbal nostalgia because what was needed was a quiet coffee cafe type of place.
Every year at this time I am asked to interview families of the JDRF youth ambassadors for a short article in Island Parent Magazine about how they deal with the diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes in their lives. The unexpected noise level at this cafe was going to play havoc with my recording equipment (such a grand name for a wee yellow Iriver but I have yet to find a more reliable, portable device for this sort of thing). Not to mention my being able to actually hear what was being said by my mom of the day.
So when she showed up, equally surprised at the level of activity – “it’s usually dead at this time of day” – we traded funk for west coast modern (same level of vegan-fad food but chrome, laminate decor plus leather furniture ). I listened to her war stories, just fresh from the front lines of a recent diagnosis.
We compared scars and equipment.
Her son was just over a year old when diagnosed, my daughter was 9 years old but there are more things the same than different. She has been living with the reality of life with Type 1 for just over a year, our family has been rolling with it for 11 years now. I’m not going to go into everything right now: I find these interviews draining–like a good mulligatawny soup, sometimes you really don’t want to look too closely at what you’ve stirred up…
We did say good-bye on a positive note, however. She asked me what do I say to parents who are in the early weeks of dealing with the diagnosis of Type 1. What answer is there when they ask, sleep-deprived, sodden with grief and searching for that easy confidence the sun will rise again which they used to take for granted, “Will it ever get better?”.
We talked a bit and came to the conclusion you can’t lie and say it will because, well, frankly, it doesn’t. The unexpected doesn’t change, we just get better at dealing with it.