Earlier this year I set out to photograph ALL of my Facebook friends. I took a break from working on this for some reason. Today – I’m feeling inspired, and that’s probably because this Facebook friend inspires me. A LOT.
When I first met Jennifer Holdgreve, I didn’t know much about Type 1 diabetes. Today, I’m much more informed. I’m much more aware. And I’m much more sympathetic.
Jennifer’s family lives with Type 1 diabetes every day. Nine-year-old Allison Holdgreve was diagnosed with the disease when she was in kindergarten. And instead of allowing this disease to take over their lives, they educated themselves and have set about educating everyone else with whom they come into contact.
What’s so great about the Holdgreves is that they also live their lives. Allison, Samantha, and Ryan are happy, active children with fulfilling lives. Instead of allowing this diagnosis to ruin their happiness, they’ve embraced it and done whatever they can to help others with the disease. Diabetes isn’t a dirty word. It’s a disease that can allow one to live a life without letting it take you down.
Of course, there are days when Jennifer, her husband Chris, and Allison all want to throw in the towel. Allison has to think about everything she’s eating. She has to ask her parents if it’s ok for her to have a snack. And she has to stop her normal 3rd-grade life to prick her finger multiple times a day. She has to take breaks from the fun the other kids are having to ensure she stays alive. That’s pretty scary shit. And for a 3rd grader to have that responsibility is daunting. But Allison? She does it. And she does it well. And sometimes, she does it with a smile on her face even.
November is Diabetes Awareness Month and I wore to work a ribbon to commemorate given to me by the Holdgreves. I was stopped multiple times and asked about my ribbon. And it was refreshing to talk to someone about the disease, and why I’m wearing that ribbon. And all the knowledge I had came from my friend Jennifer and her daughter Allison. And I love that. Instead of hiding behind it, they are out there helping others to understand. And that’s amazing.
Jennifer and I are very close friends. I would probably go crazy without her companionship. She keeps me sane. She keeps me laughing. And sometimes she keeps me drunk. Just like a very good friend should do.
The picture I’ve chosen of Jennifer and her husband Chris (NOT on Facebook, but still my friend) is one of my favorites. Their laughter is so real. Their happiness is so real. And that’s so refreshing.