Paris—When My Mom Thought She Lost Me


The door banged open and light flooded into the room. I bolted upright out of bed as my roommate groggily sat up. It was probably 3 or 4 a.m., Paris time, maybe 6 or 7 in California, where my family was. A dark shadow appeared in the doorway and flashed a bright light in our faces. She was holding a clipboard and had a cell phone pressed to her ear. She looked around and upon seeing me, shut off the light and said into the phone, “She’s all right.” I looked around confused, but after hearing my mom’s muffled sobbing at the other end of the line, I realized what had happened.


24 hours before, my mom and I had been in Paris, celebrating our last day together on an incredible trip. We were there for a few days to take in the sights together before I started a summer class at Parsons Paris. My mom and I are the perfect travel companions. In our family of six, pleasing everyone on a vacation can be a bit of a challenge, but not when it’s just my mom and me. As soon as we hopped off the plane we went straight to Le Soufflé and devoured our savory and then sweet soufflés. (Don’t ask me how many carbs are in one, I honestly have no idea, and at the time I was way too excited to be eating Soufflés in Paris to be concerned with what the proper dose was.)

Over the next few days we took in the sights of Paris—The Tour Éfille, the Champs Elysses, Notre Dame Cathedral, Jardin de Tuilleries and more. We biked through the streets with ease and even though it was my first time there, I felt at home instantly. We treated ourselves daily to Pain au Chocolate and beautifully colored Macarons from Laduree. We visited museums and got to see the incredible Marc Jacobs / Louis Vuitton Exhibit; my blood sugar went low and we had to take a detour to stop for a soda. I was living my dream in finally being able to visit the place I had always felt an insatiable thirst to visit.

My mom dropped me off at the hotel I would be staying at for the duration of my class and flew home to California. I headed upstairs to meet my roommate and begin the inevitable discussion about type 1 diabetes. Now I am much more confident in my diabetes than I was back in college. I always felt the need to fit in, and I was a bit embarrassed about having to explain myself to people. But I knew I had to tell my roommate just in case anything happened. Luckily, she was nice about it, but I also downplayed the seriousness as I assumed nothing bad would happen. Why would it?

That first night I awoke sometime early in the morning. I was groggy and confused, everything was hazy. My shirt clung to my back, sticky with cold sweat. As I slowly pushed myself up a wave of dizziness crashed over my head, nearly sending me back down. Shit. I thought. I’m low. Shit. I should text my mom.

This was before Dexcom share, so at night I would text my mom if I woke up low so she would at least know I was low and would be aware if something happened. Usually her mom-ESP senses would already be tingling and she would be awake, telling me she had a “feeling.”

I texted her then stumbled out of bed and across the room to the small refrigerator. Inside was a box of three macarons I had been planning on saving. But I stuffed them into my mouth, painfully choking down a French pastry that is meant to be enjoyed slowly and deliberately. Shit. I thought again as I looked around the room in an increasing panic. I have no more sugar.  We kept texting as I unsteadily shoved my feet into some slippers and shuffled quietly out of the room, trying to not wake my roommate. I took the elevator to the second floor where the little restaurant and kitchen area was. I looked around at the barren tables and shut windows in despair, thinking at least there would have been a vending machine. I finally saw the packets of sugar piled in the straw bowl sitting on a ledge to my right. I ripped open and dumped a packet or pure white sugar into my dry mouth, in between small assurances to my mother, who I was now on the phone with, that I was okay. I stomached a few more sugar packets, shoved some in my pajama short pockets, and headed back upstairs, feeling less low but more exhausted. I crept into my room and got back into bed.

The next thing I remember was the banging door, the bright lights, the girl with the phone and my mother’s crying. I looked at my phone and saw the longest list of texts full of escalating worry, then phone call after phone call. Shit. I thought for yet another time that night. I fell asleep before telling my mom my blood sugar had gone back up. How long has it been? She must have thought I was dead.

Tears welled up as I took the phone and repeatedly told my mom how sorry I was for falling asleep, how bad I felt for not telling her I was okay and that my blood sugar was okay now. I felt so terrible. My family must have been so scared. I knew my mom was trying not to cry; she barely ever lets anyone see her cry; but I knew how scared she had been. I don’t know the fear of truly losing a child; I know I won’t until I have my own kids, so I can only imagine how she must have felt.

After the call as I lay back down I felt both terrible and lucky. Terrible for causing this stress, but lucky that I had such caring parents. Ever since the day I was diagnosed they had been there for me, jumping headfirst into educating everyone around us and fundraising for a cure. I thought of all the other sleepless nights my mom had endured, whether it had been from the 2 am blood checks she had performed while I slept or just the worries of type 1; all the unknowns and the what-ifs. Through it all she had been so strong for me, just as she continues to be today. I texted my mom to tell her I loved her again, and that I would text her in the morning to let her know I was safe.

When I woke up the next day, I did just that. And when I came back from class in the afternoon, there was an entire Fed-Ex box filled with airheads waiting for me. Needless to say I didn’t run out of sugar again, because I have the best mom in the world.

Thank you mom, for everything you have ever done and continue to do for me. I could not be more proud to call myself your daughter and every day I am thankful to have you as my mom.

WRITTEN BY Mary Lucas, POSTED 05/07/16, UPDATED 09/26/22

Mary was diagnosed with type 1 in 1998 at the age of 7, and despite having the disease for 17 years now she still approaches each day with a smile and a sunny outlook. She attended Parsons the New School for Design in New York where she studied fashion design with a focus in childrenswear. Now in her role as community partners + programs manager, Mary loves connecting and sharing stories, tips and tricks with other people with diabetes. She grew up around philanthropy and is passionate about living well with type 1 diabetes (T1D), finding a cure, growing Beyond Type 1, and her French bulldog Lola! Find her on Instagram @MaryAlessandraa