It took some maneuvering, we had to cash in our frequent flier miles but Kelly and I were able to give our son Cole a Christmas gift that we thought he'd never forget... Phillies spring training tickets.
I don't leave home often without my kids. Being a stay at home dad by definition means that they are almost always with me. Arden is especially always close to me, be it in distance or contact and I don't often have the opportunity to relinquish her care. Last week however was a boys week, Cole and I went to Clearwater, Florida to watch the Phillies get ready for the 2012 season while Kelly stayed at home with Arden.
This trip was to be my second diabetes free week in five years. I still maintained communication with the school nurses but after Arden arrived home from school, Kelly took the reigns. Kelly deserves a big shout out... she did a terrific job!
Our son Cole plays and loves baseball more then I'd be able to express here in a few words. An hour after we landed in Florida we were standing at the Bright House practice fields. Not five minutes after we arrived Cole turned and saw former Phillies manager, Dallas Green. His was the first signature on Cole's ball that would eventually include Mike Schmidt, Charlie Manuel and Ruben Amaro, Jr. and that signature marked the beginning of our week in the sun watching the Phillies.
We stood and watched as the players took batting practice, ran sprints, fielded their positions and more. Every few minutes a horn would sound and the guys would run to another station. Cole was enjoying himself in a way that I've never seen, his smile truly reached from ear to ear.
Every day around 10 am Cole would stand outside of the outfield fence and try to catch home run balls as the sailed over. After he was finished, I'd get out my glove and he and I would throw a ball. This was my absolute favorite part of the trip. Standing just outside of where his baseball idols were playing, having a catch with my son. It was so relaxing and so heartwarming. Imagine your child's favorite thing in the world, imagine being at the place where it happens and feeling so close to it that you could imagine that thing for yourself. That's what this was for Cole and I was fortunate enough to be there when he felt it.
We attended a game each day, five in all. In the evenings we'd have dinner and laugh together, never once did I wonder how many carbs were in the food we were eating. It was nice not to think about diabetes. One evening at dinner I consciously thought, "this is wonderful... not having to look across the table, trying to guess how many carbs are in Arden's meal". The good feeling that accompanied that thought only lasted a moment because my follow up thought was so incredibly sad. I found myself pondering the idea that Arden would never experience this feeling as long as diabetes was a part of her life. I felt an incredible guilt for being able to escape diabetes when Arden isn't able to do the same. Those thoughts and feelings were incredibly sobering, they literally showed me where the term, "feels like a wet blanket" came from. I instantly felt the weight of her reality, I realized that Arden likely won't feel this release for a very long time, if ever.
Type I has given me a heightened perspective, I feel like knowing just how difficult life can be with diabetes allows me to properly put other situations into their place. I used that perspective, summoned up the resilience that diabetes has given me and shook off that terrible notion. I turned my attention back to our dinner conversation and was able to separate what was happening in my life in that moment from what I knew was happening in Arden and Kelly's back home.
Spring training was a marvelous experience, one that we may try to do again one day. I want to thank the Phillies Director of Public Affairs, Scott Palmer for the kindness he showed to Cole while we were in Clearwater. I wrote to the Phillies and told them that we were coming to spring training, I explained how often diabetes effects out lives and how wonderful Cole is at supporting his sister and patiently waiting while we treat low BGs, wait to eat and more. I expressed how much I'd like this trip to be just about Cole and that I wanted to make it extra special for him if I could. Mr. Palmer met us at our seats, spoke with Cole and gave him a ball signed by Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels. In a week full of ear to ear smiles, this moment ranked right at the top for Cole and I am grateful to Mr. Palmer and the Phillies for taking the time.
To see more photographs from the trip please go to the Visual Record.