Sunday, February 9, 2014

Spare A Rose

The day I knew my fiance was right for me was the day he explained, out of the blue, why he didn't get me flowers.

Now, I know that sounds strange. In your traditional sitcom, the guy who forgets to buy (Valentine's Day, birthday, anniversary, Columbus Day) flowers is always depicted as being, shall we say delicately, SOL (shit out of luck). This hapless gent tries to find something, anything, in the already-closed flower shops or the bottom-of-the-scraped barrel at the grocery store, or the gas station. Anything to prove to his harridan of a significant other that he cares. But when my fiance said, "I didn't buy you flowers," it was actually one of the sweetest things he's ever said, because of what followed.

"I didn't buy you flowers because I know they make you sad. They're pretty, but they die, and it breaks your heart when you have to throw them out," he said. Flowers are pretty, and symbolize life, but they also symbolize its fragility, because, cut, they die quickly. Instead, he gets me delicious things to eat, or takes me to a play, or gives me a book, or finds my favourite show, or even hunts for new and interesting glucose tablets; anything to show that he both cares and knows me as a person. Once, we went to a sushi place that made us intricate flowers out of vegetables; a wonderful subversion of the trope for a special day.
The veggie flowers

Our wedding will have very few flowers. If there are any, most of them will be living, in pots, so that people can take them home and cultivate their life, rather than admire their death.

Don't get me wrong; if you have ever gotten me flowers, I have loved them. I have loved the gift, and your thoughtfulness. And my heart has broken a tiny bit when I've had to finally throw them out; I hate to get rid of anyone's thoughtful gesture, even when it's expired.

I'm telling you this because it's Valentine's Day this week, and because there's a cause I passionately believe in that understands that, in the developing world, the life of a child with diabetes can be as beautiful and short as the life of a cut flower.

Insulin is expensive for me, particularly during a semester without insurance, but I can stock up on it and, in the end, I can afford it. Many people can't. The leading cause of death for children without diabetes in many countries is not hypoglycemia, DKA or diabetes complications: though the latter two are usually involved, the root cause boils down to lack of access to insulin. As another blogger pointed out, if you have to choose between feeding the rest of your children and one vial of insulin, the insulin will not win. Making that choice is brutal, but it is a brutal reality.

Lack of access to insulin is a diabetes complication that we can DO something about. So much of diabetes is random and unpredictable in terms of what happens to you, that it seems crazy not to fix the things we actually can.

To that end, I'm asking you to be my valentine and Spare A Rose. Spare A Rose, Save A Child is a campaign to raise funds for Life For A Child, an International Diabetes Federation organization that brings diabetes-related medical supplies and education to children all over the world. Nobody should die from diabetes, but most of all, nobody should die of diabetes due to a lack of education or supplies.

Spare A Rose asks you to omit one flower from your Valentine's bouquet of 12 roses, and to donate that $5 to provide a month of life to a child with diabetes. Donating $60 (12 roses) will sustain a child for a year.

None of us can choose the numbers on our ticket of birth in the lottery of life. For me, diabetes was a losing number. But I have so much love and care in my life, and because of my family and my opportunities I am comfortable financially. I have won so much. It chills me to the bone, and not just because it's February, to think where I could be right now had I been born in another country and to different circumstances with the same faulty genes. My life, like a rose, could have been cut.

Spare A Rose, Save A Child. I promise you'll be my valentine.


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