The names in the story have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals.
Growing up at the beach you had your regular friends. The friends you went to grade school, dancing school and CCD with, and the ones who came to almost every birthday party you ever had.
And then you had your summer friends. Summer friends only lived in your town during the summer, and you almost never saw them during the school year.
Summer friends were the friends that you played flashlight tag with, and whose cousin Chip gave you your first sort of real kiss when you were in 6th grade. You’d spend all day at the beach with your summer friends, and then play over at their house all night, until it was time to go home. Then their father walked you around the corner & dropped right at your front door.
You slept over your summer friends houses and read Nancy Drew & Little House On The Prairie at the same time, then acted out the plot of the books.
Summer friends were great, except that by the end of the summer, we all got sick of one another and couldn’t wait to see our school friends again.
Still, every June, the summer friends would come down and the cycle of “Summer Friends” would begin.
I had a whole gang of both summer and regular friends who lived around the block - And we played together from the time we were about 4 until we were in our early teens.
Then, times changed the summer I was 13.
We still hung out, but I could tell it was different. The whole neighborhood kid dynamic started to drift.
That was the last time I was with my neighborhood gang, and it all started with the break-up of my summer friends, the sisters Lucy & Ethel.
Lucy was a year older than me and Ethel was a year younger. Most of the kids in the neighborhood were closer to their ages and that was the summer when age lines started to be drawn in the theoretical sand. Sometimes Lucy would play with me, other times she couldn’t bother. Same with Ethel - who could be moody anyway.
Now the break up was mostly my fault, and I’ll admit it.
I’d begun to sneak food (Oreos & Entenmann’s pastry) from Lucy & Ethel’s kitchen on my way to the bathroom. I’d take the contraband carbs into the bathroom, close the door, down the carbs, rinse my mouth out with water , and went on about my business like nothing happened.
It was the summer and I was incredibly active and growing like a weed, and I was ALWAYS hungry.
Test strips had only been out for a few years and our family shared both a prescription and a meter for 3 people. And since it was the Diabetes Dark Ages, anything and everything was off limits.
It was also the first summer in three years that I wasn’t going to diabetes camp because my family couldn’t afford it. My dad had lost his job and my sister Debbie kept getting sicker. I felt my world changing faster than I could keep up with.
One day I went over to Lucy & Ethel’s - And out of the blue, the jig was up.
Lucy: Kelly, my mom saw you take a danish from the kitchen yesterday afternoon.
Me: No I didn’t . ( I SO TOTALLY DID)
Ethel: She saw you take it to the bathroom and she heard the sink water running in there while you ate it. It’s not good for you, Kelly - You could get sick.
Me: I didn’t eat anything!
Ethel: You did too!
Lucy: It’s OK, just don’t do it again.
Lucy: It’s OK, just don’t do it again.
ME: I DIDN’T DO IT!!! I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I’m going home!
And then I ran out the door and I never went back.
I was so embarrassed that I could barely see straight and the tears were streaming down my face! I ran down the block, took a short cut through my neighbors’s yard, hid behind the giant Honeysuckle bush and cried my eyes out.
I felt like such a bad kid. I told myself I was loser and a dork and I felt so alone. The diabetes diet back then was so restrictive and just wanted to enjoy food like everyone else.
I spent a lot of time that summer alone, babysitting and taking long bike rides after dinner.
8th grade sucked for many reasons, and all too numerous to mention, The following summer I started hanging out with kids I’d be going to high school with, and a new group of summer friends.
And I steered clear of the gang around the corner - I was so afraid that Lucy & Ethel had told them what I’d done,
Whenever I think about getting caught and how I handled it, my face still turns red with embarrassment.
It’s never easy growing up, and growing up with diabetes adds a whole new twist - Add growing up the Diabetes Dark Ages, and the twist turns into a big, fat, sinewy knot of denial.
I wish I could have been honest with Lucy & Ethel. but more importantly, I wish I could have been honest with my self.
And I wish I wouldn't have felt like I had to lie. I wish I could have just taken extra insulin and not worried about it.
But that's not how it was back then.
I long to tell the girl I was that it would all be OK, and that she was going to be OK.
I can’t go back in time, that’s impossible. But I can share my story with you, because I know I'm not the only person living with diabetes who's ever lied about food as a kid - or an adult. But back then, it sure felt like it.
Now a days when we eat something that was once forbidden fruit, we can bolus for it and enjoy it!
Because today, nothing is off limits - AND THAT IS A BEAUTIFUL THING. ~