“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” — Anatole France
The Wheat Immunology Program we are now entered in demands that William, my son, ingest what has been known to endanger him for his whole life. And while I fear for his safety, William’s fears are different. For the past 10 years he has grown comfortable, even celebratory of his identity as the “Gluten-Free Boy.” He loves shopping for new gluten-free goodies, meeting gluten-free cooks and experts, going to gluten-free gatherings, and feeling part of the gluten-free community.
He also has come to feel special with the extra care and attention he receives in most food environments; his friends have always been interested in what he’s eating as it is different (and often looks really good thanks to this Mom!) and his teachers and other adults work hard to offer extra support. He has a sense of identity, belonging, and specialness he has known since birth.
William expressed his apprehension with sadness and concern, “I don’t want to loose my ‘William-ness’…. Who will I be? I don’t want to be just like everyone else. I like being the Gluten Free Boy. It’s who I am.”
As we learn on any path of self-discovery, all change – even a change for the better – can be accompanied by downsides and distresses. We don’t know if we’ll like the ‘new’. We resist it, feel sad, nostalgic, anxious or even angry right up to the precipice. But once we cross the threshold, we realize we’re more ready for change than we thought.
And so it goes….
Now three days into Hospital visits, we are finding ourselves thinking more about the present than the past. We are growing wrapped up in planning our new daily schedule as William’s treatment requires him, each day, upon taking his ‘medicine’ to stop all exercise and relax for two hours while his body metabolizes the wheat.
And, thankfully, William has seemed to switch his focus from loosing his identity to creating a list of the first wheat-foods he may be able to indulge in. Dare I tell you that a NYC Dirty Water Dog is way up on the list? (He is his father’s son.)