A Heartbreaking Diabetes Coincidence that Made a Friendship Stronger

The JDRF Gala


I called my friend Anne from the ER. “Lauren’s in the hospital,” I said. “She was just diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. And I’m wicked scared.”

Anne is my friend and neighbor. We met pushing baby carriages down the street. While I’m a loud (sometimes overbearing) extrovert, Anne is calm and reserved. I was thrilled she wanted to be friends with me.

I was right in my choice of whom to call that terrible day. From that first call when Lauren was six, until today, almost 20 years later, Anne has done all the right things. She let me sob when I needed to, and she knew to make me laugh when the time was right. She learned all about Type 1 diabetes. She asked polite and sensible questions. She studied the old insulin regime NPH and R, and could be with Lauren for hours at a time. She let me whine and sometimes she brought me wine. She got it.

About three months into Lauren’s diagnosis, a well-intentioned friend brought me a book on diabetes complications. Until that moment I’d been so focused on figuring out the moment-to-moment way of life with diabetes, I’d not even considered anything long term. And reading about it shattered me. I called Anne.

“Moira,” she said. “I was wondering when you were going to start thinking about that. Listen to me: just do your best. It’s going to be okay. This is all going to be better in the future. Put the book down and focus on life today and Lauren’s happiness.”

And so I did.

Anne and her family came to every single one of our JDRF walks. Her youngest son Jeffrey even won our “youngest walker award” as a baby. She came to galas. She cared and supported me continuously.

And I appreciated it. Deeply.

Seven years ago, I got a call from Anne’s husband, and that jarred me. Something is wrong, I thought as he said hello.

“Moira,” he said, choking on the words. “Anne is at Children’s Hospital with Jeffrey. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes yesterday.

The wind was knocked out of me. Jeffrey: that baby who won the “youngest walker award.” Now we would walk for him. Anne: that friend who always said and did the right thing. Now she was in my world.

I hung up and picked up again and dialed Anne. I knew that I was right in doing that – only a fellow D mom can make that hospital call without asking first. We were on the phone linked to Children’s Hospital again, needing one another, but this time the roles were reversed.

Today Anne and I talk constantly. We take walks whenever we can and share insights and information. We have a bond that few have in this life, friends first, D-Mom partners next.

I hate that Anne and her family joined us in this world, but – and I feel guilty for thinking and saying this – it has given me the strongest bond I could possibly have with a friend. If it had to happen to our children, at least we had each other to lean on and pull ourselves through the days.

One morning at my house as we drank coffee, Anne took a call from the school nurse. I listened to her side of the conversation, understanding every single thing.

“248? And he did he finish the snack? Uh-huh. No, don’t check for ketones yet. I’m sure it’s just an underbolus. Yes. Correct but only half! Gym is in two hours.”

When she hung up, we both burst out laughing.

“I know this is terrible,” I said to her, “but this is kind of freaking awesome. We get each other, Anne. We really do.”

There’s a beauty in that. I am thankful for all my D-world friends I’ve made along the way. I am thankful for the many who let me pick their brains and who gave and continue to give me and my child guidance and support.

But most of all I am thankful for Anne. Thanks for being my friend from the start, Anne, and for always caring about Lauren in a real and meaningful way. Thank you for continuing to support me and for letting me support you. The coincidence is wrong, sad and makes me angry. But I celebrate it too.

Moira McCarthy
Moira McCarthy

Moira McCarthy was pursuing her dream career in active sports journalism when her young daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 1997. While she continued on that route, writing for the New York Times Sports and Leisure Division, Snow Country Magazine, Ski Magazine and becoming a daily newspaper sports columnist for the Boston Herald, she also began dedicating much of her life to diabetes advocacy and education.

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