This song, I’ll Rise Up, by Andra Day, has special meaning to me.
I have not disclosed much of my personal life since releasing my cookbook, The Diabetic Pastry Chef about a decade ago. As many of you may remember, I dedicated my book to my mother and other close relatives whom lost their lives due to diabetes complications. I am also diabetic and received my diagnosis while attending culinary school to become a pastry chef.
Since that time, I have lost numerous other friends and family members to diabetes most notably two husbands. One was my partner of 38 years with whom I was of course extremely devoted to; Howard had previously been diagnosed with diabetes and died of pancreatic cancer in 2010, months after my cookbook was released. I also lost my father to dementia within this ten year timeframe.
My second husband, Rick, was a 100% disabled veteran, a victim of diabetes by Agent Orange incurred during the Vietnam War; he sadly died of kidney disease in 2019. We dated for six months before he ashamedly disclosed to me that he was diabetic and receiving dialysis treatments. (Of course there was no need for him to be ashamed, especially not with me.) It broke my heart to hear his feelings on this. It was easy for him to hide this information from me for a time, as we lived in different cities. But what was most amazing about this man — I kid you not, was that every Friday after receiving dialysis, he would immediately jump into his car and drive five hours from Washington, D.C. to Pittsburgh to see me. He did this every week for a year! I don’t even know how this was possible, as when my mother was receiving dialysis, she would immediately come home and take to her bed; sometimes it took two days for her to recover. How could I not love a man like that!
During this time, I also lost a brother-in-law, an aunt and two friends all whom were diabetic. My two friends succumbed to COVID-19.
In addition, during this tumultuous time, I experienced a bout of depression and was forced to close my business due to the pandemic and postal delays. Then, of course, we all got the news that those with diabetes were visited with the worst outcomes of all coronavirus patients.
So, suffice it to say, it’s been a rough number of years for me as of late. But this journey has only deepened my resolve to be a more strident diabetes patient advocate and to continue to be of service to my fellow diabetes readers and sufferers. Please know that no matter how tired, sick and down I am due to life as we presently know it, I will continue to rise up in some capacity to further this literal fight we all have with diabetes.
I pray each of us will continue to be strong and to fight this unrelenting battle as best we can. This battle is not only for us, but also for those whom have gone before us, those who are present, and for those who will come after. May God bless us all.