Finding Closure in Sugar Nation

 It takes very  little to make me happy. There are moments that just happen and people that come into my life that I just appreciate and cherish. Even a book.
I haven't read a book in a while. I do indulge in quite a few psychology articles and such from time to time though. But, I have a story to tell you about a book that has been so good that I find myself lost in my own consciousness while I digest the words as I read. This book has put so much into perspective and it's done something I struggled with for almost 3 years now - finding closure.

One of the people I have come in contact with in the fitness industry happens to have written a wonderful book titled "Sugar Nation". We kept in touch in regards to the happenings in the fitness industry and whatnot. In due time, I scored a signed copy of his book. I have to be honest and say that I thought it'd be a boring book filled with scientific language, mathematical equations and chemistry-like illustrations telling us why we should avoid sugar. What I got when I began reading was the complete opposite of what I expected.

And here's the story.
I was visiting a friend when I received an email over FB letting me know my father had passed away. February was the month and 2010 was the year. I could see his shadow everywhere I looked for days to follow. A few months later, as I was sitting at my desk at work, when I received yet another FB message letting me know that one of my good friends had passed. I was extremely close to this man, and I couldn't help but break down into tears. Both these men had so much in common. The way I was able to find closure from their loss was very different though.
Both my father and my friend spoiled me to death. They both saw me as some sort of little star that brought light into their darkness. They both constantly talked up my intelligence. They both were workaholics, and ...they were both diabetic.
One of my favorite photos
of Doug. 
They both had very different roles in my life, but their presence has and will always make a huge impact in it. They both meant so much to me.
I last saw my father at the age of 13. I had some contact with him up until my freshman year in college. A well-established and wealthy businessman, he made one last attempt at having me in his life by requesting I move back home with him. He promised to take good care of me and make sure I lived the life of the little princess I was. I will never forget when he told me that I would never even have to make my bed (as if I do even today anyways lol) or even wash any clothes...EVER. We had maids for that. I refused his offer and decided to take life by the horns, on my own. Typical Amanda. I was built for that! I knew he struggled with diabetes, but illnesses, especially hereditary ones, are not a topic up for discussion in my family. I had very little touch with him after that--a call here and there, a letter maybe, then the note from a relative on FB letting me know that he was gone.
Last time I was with Doug, pictured
here with our Soror Mounira.
 April 2010. 
Then there was my friend. I spent a lot of time with him as an adult. He had a huge vision for me career-wise but my mindset wasn't there just yet. We often argued about it. We had a love-hate relationship but we always remained in touch. I knew that if I ever needed anything, he would be there for me. I was also around to experience what happens to a person who suffers from diabetes. I am not sure which type he had (1 or 2), but all I know is that it was real bad. On top of that, he submerged himself in work and didn't eat balanced meals. As a matter of fact, he skipped them quite often. There'd even be an entire day he'd go without eating. Not good. I had experienced his diabetic attacks (not sure if it was hypo or hyper glycemia) and what they would do to him. I had days when I would not hear from him for hours because he had passed out due to his diabetes. It was serious. But the months prior to his passing he had appeared to be doing rather well...or better at least. Nonetheless his death took a lot of us by surprise.
Burying people you love is
never easy. 
The days to follow, including the funeral, were tough for all of us, friends and family alike. He was really a great and accomplished man, dedicated to serving our community and youth, and really taken from our lives way too soon - only in his mid 40s. I stood in front of his casket and caressed his forehead hoping he was just asleep and maybe, just maybe, with my touch he'd open his eyes. I held his frozen cold hands expecting him to squeeze mine back. Wishful thinking. It was and still is one of the roughest good-byes I'd ever experienced as an adult. I had my closure.
That closure is something I never experienced when my father died. From what I was told he was buried very quickly after being in the hospital for some time due to complications from his diabetes. The information that followed was sketchy.
How does "Sugar Nation" tie into all of this? The author's story-telling, narrative style along with the statement of facts is something that most authors fail to do well. O'Connell has a way with words and is able to do this extremely well. He takes into account the socio-economic and racial variables that come into play when discussing the topic of diabetes with a very conscientious mind. Whenever I read a page, or even a paragraph, I was forced to put the book down and think about my own life and how I am living it. It has helped me think about my children and what I feed them. And more importantly, it has helped me become extremely vigilant about my family health history which will affect my own kids.
And here's the most important thing this book has done for me - without telling you too much and ruining a good read for - the author allowed me to experience a closure that I never experienced with my father's death.
I knew my father had complications from diabetes and I know he was in the hospital for some time. I never got to see him or say good bye. In the book, the author describes his own experiences with his father, while he was hospitalized for the very same reason. He describes his skin, his teeth, his hair, and the drop in his weight. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and absorbed every single word I had just read. It made sense. With the O'Connell's descriptive words of his visit to his father, I was able to envision my own dad, in his last moments. I put the book down and cried. I got what I needed. I got my closure.

This book has made a huge impact in my life and I have recommended it to all my clients. I am urging my Black and Latino, my communities of color, to pick up this excellent read. It might change your mind, a legacy and even a generation of eating habits that need to be changed.

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