Over the weekend, we attended an air show at a nearby Air Force base.
We watched F-16s and other planes zig, zag and zoom across the sky. The highlight of the day was watching the Air Force Thunderbirds perform.
Everyone around me exploded with excitement and exclamations:
“Look at that!”
“Oh, my G-d!”
“How’d they do that?”
“They’re flying upside down!”
“That was crazy!”
I whooped it up, too. First seeing small planes do loop-de-loops and other aerial acrobatics, and then witnessing the precision maneuvers of high-performance fighter jets flying in formation was truly spectacular and thrilling.
Despite the fact that I was surrounded by several children, I couldn’t help but belt out “holy crap!” nearly every time an F-16 roared past me.
Following the show, we walked around the base, perusing the planes parked on the tarmac. There were military bombers, fighter planes, and cargo jets among other aircraft.
Unlike my husband, who is both a military buff and a history buff and who instantly recognized all of the aircraft, I had no clue about the big birds before me.
All I knew was that we were on military grounds looking at military equipment surrounded by military personnel.
As we explored, I kept coming back to the same thought: Jack will never be a part of this.
Shortly after Jack was diagnosed, Gregg and I decided that we would never let diabetes stand in Jack’s way of doing anything. We would do everything in our power to enable Jack to live life to its fullest. We would help him do and and achieve anything and everything that he would have done and achieved had he not been diagnosed.
But, unless there's something I'm unaware of, and correct me if I'm wrong, the military is not an option for Jack.
And there’s nothing we can do about that. No amount of effort and encouragement will help. There's no battle to wage here for our son. We can’t just fix his pancreas, eliminate his need for insulin, get rid of the lows and highs and make him eligible to enlist.
I understand the military’s reasoning, and actually, I have no problems with it.
Besides, honestly, diabetes or no diabetes, I don’t think entering the military will interest Jack. This is probably a non-issue.
Also, please don’t misunderstand me. D didn’t get me down. I wasn’t moping around the base unable to think about anything but D or move beyond the realities of living with D. I had a great time at the air show. We all did.
It’s just that I couldn’t help but think about the fact that if Jack wanted to be an Air Force Thunderbird, he’d be declined. If he wanted to join any branch of the military, he’d be declined. That’s just the way it is, thanks to diabetes.
I like to tell all three of my kids, not just Jack, that they can be anything they want to be, if they just set their minds on it and work hard. But no amount of effort or determination will make my son eligible for the armed forces.
It’s hard not think of that when you spend the day on an Air Force base...no matter how wonderful that day is.