July 2, 2021
Letter to Estefi
Parenting a child with diabetes can be challenging but also very rewarding. A mother's message to her daughter to mark the tenth anniversary of her type 1 diabetes diagnosis.
By Liliana Tieri
Liliana Tieri is from Argentina and the mother of Estefi, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of two. When Estefi celebrated her tenth “diaversary,” her mother wrote her a letter expressing all the emotions that she had experienced since the diagnosis. Liliana has kindly agreed for Diabetes Voice to publish the letter as a source of encouragement and inspiration for all parents of a newly diagnosed child with diabetes.
Today Estefi, I feel I have so many things I want to tell you,
but I don’t really know where to start,
because exactly 10 years ago today,
I realised there would be a before and an after to that day.
At just two years old,
with a giant bear that you could barely wrap your little arms around
and a rosary I hung around your little neck thinking it would protect you,
that 4th of July we were told you would need insulin to live.
That day Estefi, I hated diabetes with all my heart,
because I knew you had started a treatment that would last a lifetime.
It was a great wound for the heart and lacerating for the soul,
and at times I feared that such intense pain,
would end up destroying me.
But the days went by, and you, Estefi,
so small, so sweet and so wise,
you made me realise that you expected and needed other things from me.
I learned to take care of you, with cuddles, love and affection,
but also with education.
That same diabetes education and training,
that I have relentlessly strived to acquire all these years,
and that without knowing very well how, or when,
you made yours and took so much responsibility for!
Throughout these years, Estefi, I have seen you grow up, have fun and play.
I have seen you laugh, get angry and kick,
go to school, to English and dance lessons, and to birthday parties,
jump rope, comb Barbies and skateboard.
I have seen you compete (and win!!!!) in sprint and relay races,
and learn that in hockey you are an excellent “left half.”
I have seen you support Argentina’s national team and Las Leonas.
You are cute, funny and HAPPY!
Over the years, you also taught me
that diabetes helps children to become
confident, responsible and well-disciplined,
without losing their enthusiasm, innocence and spontaneity.
Over the years, I have learned that you are a good daughter, a good student, a good friend and a good person,
And I have discovered the wisdom you have to solve new challenges.
I found you to be strong and determined,
and you are undoubtedly the one who has strengthened me day by day.
You have been without doubt the best excuse that I have found as a person
to grow, to be strong, to fight.
And I would have given everything I have for you not to have diabetes,
but that, my daughter, I could not prevent.
Instead, what I can do is to speak out, to raise awareness,
to inform, to fight for equality and fairness,
so that you and many other children like you,
have everything they need to grow up healthy and happy.
And, you know Estefi?
Every time that from CUI.D.AR we manage to reach a child and their family,
with education, help and support,
I feel a deep sense of affection, pride and emotion,
because I feel that you have a lot to do with all of that.
You are undoubtedly the engine and inspiration that has made it all possible!
Because somehow CUI.D.AR is also the excuse that I found,
to show you how much I love you and how privileged I feel
to be close to you and to have you as a part of my life.
Thank you Estefi for teaching me each and every day
that diabetes doesn’t stop kids (and their mothers) from fulfilling their dreams.
I love you!
Liliana Tieri is the Founder and Director of CUI.D.AR - Asociación para el Cuidado de la Diabetes en Argentina, and a member of the IDF Blue Circle Voices Network. Her daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of two.