Arden was diagnosed in August of 2006 and we participated in our first JDRF Walk two months later. Yesterday was Arden's ninth consecutive walk, and this year we did things a little differently.
In the past our group has been seventy people strong, other times we've walked with a dozen friends, six people came one year, we usually have team shirts – yesterday it was just us. We didn't invite family or close friends, never sent an email or made a post on Facebook announcing the walk, heck our son even had something to do and couldn't make it for the first time.
Yesterday Kelly, Arden, myself and one of Arden's friends (Hi Jamiee) made our way on a windy and cold morning to the take the walk that has meant many different things over the years.
The first year we were still in shock from Arden's recent diagnosis when we went to the walk out of, what could be described as, a manic desperation to cure our daughter. Year two felt like giving back to the people who were diagnosed after Arden and we put so much effort into fund raising for the first five years. Over time the walk has been a celebration, a call to arms, always an opportunity to spread awareness, but yesterday I found myself reflecting for the first time.
"Can you believe this is our ninth walk?", I asked Kelly. See replied, "Can you believe Arden is ten years old... and how is our son fourteen!?". Time certainly does fly!
The walk began on Sunday, as it always does, with a slow descent down a hill that this year was lined with signs that were adjourned with kid's faces and the details of their length of time with diabetes. When we reached Arden's sign my heart filled with an odd blend of pride and sadness. I wondered to myself how it was possible that in just one more year, we'd be doing this for a tenth time. After we took a picture of Arden's sign, she and Jaimee spent the walk on their scooters as Kelly and I strolled behind them enjoying the fall air (except for when a girl in front of us lit a cigarette - why?) and chatting. Early in the walk I shared with Kelly that I almost cried thinking about how long we've been at this diabetes thing and Kelly reminded me of the year that Arden wouldn't accept being held because she thought she would have to refund her donations if she didn't finish on her own. Overall I tried not to give type I too much of my attention, opting to enjoy our time together in the beautiful park.
Kelly and I did talk for a while about the possibility of making Arden's tenth walk into an event. It was nice to have this year to quietly walk alone, but I'm hopeful that next year will find us back with a huge, raucous group, because despite enjoying the low key nature of our morning - we missed everyone.
Maybe we'll see you next year for Arden's 10th JDRF walk!