A stuffed gymnasium housed the hundreds of graduates from the University of Michigan-Dearborn. On the sides of the seated students donning navy robes and colored ribbons determined by their field of study were family members and friends. The student speaker that day in April 2007 focused her inspirational speech on a fellow graduate, me. She described how I’d overcome enormous challenges to achieve a Bachelors Degree with high honors.
The sun shone on the grey ice. It was barren of snow, unusual for early March, but the broken mirror of the surface didn’t complain. It sat like a disk in between the forested banks, and even though the centre was cracked open the surface was studded with the tin sided huts of ice fishermen.
I took to wearing long sleeve shirts on my fourteenth birthday. Two years before, I’d received my bracelet, and the restrictions started. I was born with the sugar disease, and ever since I’ve been on insulin. The insulin doesn’t matter, for it lives in a simple little pump I wear around my bicep. I replaced the cartridges with fresh ones and keep an eye on the battery charge. I could charge it with any one of my other devices, so that didn’t bother me. What bothered me was the stinking bracelet.
I shouldn’t be telling you this. I don’t mean it’s a secret, I just mean, I shouldn’t even be here. The summer after I turned five, I drowned in the ocean and was saved by my Uncle Don.
When I was little, summer meant bundling up towels, blankets, bottles of Sea and Ski, Noxzema, lawn chairs and telescoping forks, hot dogs, buns, mustard, relish, marshmallows, pots of chili with mushrooms, and a giant metal tin of saltines. We never owned a cooler of any kind, so the afternoon before our seasonal trip, Mama would go from house to house, neighbor to neighbor, in search of a Coleman’s cooler or a five-gallon thermos-like thing for lemonade for our trip.