So, just to recap, my daughter and I have recently removed gluten and dairy from our lives, in what I’m calling our Slice of Life Diet, at first simply because it coincides with this challenge. Little did I know then that this diet would slip into three of the past four posts and work to earn its name.
It’s been three weeks since we modified our food intake upon the advice of our naturopath. Before we got the results of the blood test that would run her antibodies against 90 different foods, it was a safe bet that dairy and gluten were the likely culprits in the crime against her skin: eczema that covered both legs like ants on a picnic spread.
In three weeks, we’ve gotten really good at trying out new things and relying on old favorites to see us through the transition to a world without ice cream and bread. Old favorites like breakfast for dinner, minus the toast, with eggs made fluffy at the hand of a nine-year-old. It is the first meal she can make for us without help.
“It’s the only thing I know how to make,” she told me tonight as tears streamed down her face.
Yes, the results are and she is not only allergic to dairy and gluten, but eggs and “many more foods” that will be revealed in our appointment next week.
“This sucks,” she says.
“Yes, this sucks,” I tell her. In my mind, images flash:
- people in Haiti without clean water.
- an eleven-year-old whose kidney disease will eventually lead to transplant.
- a brain cancer survivor.
I once heard Michael J. Fox make sense of his disease by saying that if we all put our problems in the center of a circle and could take anybody’s problem as our own, we’d take our own.
He’s right. “Yes, this sucks,” but this is my “this sucks.” I know it is these moments that make us stronger, that shape us into the people we are meant to be, the people that others need us to be.
So how do I communicate all that to my nine-year-old? I start with “Yes, this sucks.” And I sit with her in the car as her tears subside. And I help her make choices at Qdoba that she’s always loved. And I drive her home, listening about the fight that happened at school today. And I sit with her while she flips through the channels. And I help her make choices about a bedtime snack, berries that she’s always eaten by the handful. And I promise that we will work through this “this sucks” the way we have all the others: together. And I remind her that when this “this sucks” feels big and hopeless, that I will carry her through.
Though I know she won’t need me to.
I’m participating in the ninth annual Slice of Life Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers. Submit your own slice in their daily call post or simply show up to read and enjoy the slices of over 250 writers across the world. Bookmark those that inspire you or that you could use as mentors for your own writing or for your student writers.