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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Be All You Can Be...Or Not




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:
    “Wow!” 
    “Awesome!”
    “Look at that!”
    “Oh, my G-d!”
    “Amazing!”
    “Unbelievable!”
    “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.





7 comments:

TheCrazyHouse said...

Yeah, my husband is a Marine, and my 6 year old had very high hopes of following in his father's footsteps...until that fateful day last September when he was dx'd. Now, we have to tell him he can be anything he wants to be...except the one thing he really does want to be. *sigh* He has hopes that the cure will be found before he is old enough to join and it will still happen, though.

Andrea said...

My 9 year old son is obsessed with the military! Sure he complains about D and shots and food and what not...who wouldn't? But when he is told that he can do anything despite having D, he gets very upset and says that is NOT true!!! I cannot join the military!! One dream crushed!

Nicole said...

Great post, I love how the kids and even the big kid got to get up and personal with the jets. Very cool!!

Reyna said...

I have thought about this on and off over the years. My sister flew in Afghanistan for the Navy. That will not be an option for Joe. It just is. We will shoot for the NHL instead - LOL.

Looks like an awesome time Heidi.

Amy Lederer said...

My oldest boy is all about the military. Always has been. He's not type 1 but he is mildly color blind and I think that does disqualify him from at least parts of the military (pilot, etc.). Ryan has never really seemed to have an interest but he is just 6 and that day might come. And this is a topic I am very selfish about. Seriously, my comment to my husband when we found out about E's color blindness was, "Well, at least two out of the three can't be in the military." DO NOT GET ME WRONG. I SO RESPECT THE MILITARY, EVERY BRANCH! AND AM SOOOO VERY THANKFUL FOR THEIR SACRIFICE. But I selfishly don't want them hurt and don't want them half a world away from me ever. So this one is relatively easy for me . . . at least for now because there is not A heartbreaking realization that he can't and he wants to, like CrazyHouse described above. That does hurt my heart. (((Hugs)))

P.S. I wanna go to an air show!

Jules said...

That is worth pondering. Accepting. Sure Sounded like a good day out!

Sarah said...

What a fantastic trip - my oldest, Ethan, is obsessed with the military and airplanes and would have flipped to go there.
My husband was 11 when dx with d, his father was in the army (now retired army colonel recently deceased) - anyhow some dumb nurse said while they were in the hospital to my mother in law (within earshot of him), "Well at least he can't join the military," the way the story goes my mother in law froze but my father in law stood tall and said, "if he wants to be a part of the US military he will be." I believe him, if our children want to be a part they can find a way...they allow many people to be consultants at various levels, they higher private pilots to do various jobs that the government may restrict but a civilian could do...I think of these things as I feel frustrated about the idea that just at 3 my son already ha a door shut to him. I try to think like my amazing father in law that if our children really wanted it we could find a way.