Our beloved worlds

January 31, 2013 • Posted in blindness, book tour, memoir writing, radio, Uncategorized by

Blind justiceDid you catch John Stewart interviewing Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on the Daily Show? Hear her interviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition? Latino USA? Her memoir was published a few weeks ago, and I think the only day she’s had away from the book tour since then was Monday, January 21: that’s the morning she swore Vice President Biden in for his second term.

The reviews I’ve read of My Beloved World mention young Sonia growing up in a tiny Bronx apartment with her Puerto Rico-born parents, her father’s early death, her mother’s hard work, her beloved grandmother, and her appreciation for affirmative action. One reason she gave for writing the memoir was that so many people identify with different pieces of her story. She thought perhaps writing about her path to the Supreme Court might give them hope.

But, alas, very little of her story that I identify with most was mentioned during her book tour. You may not know this, but Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was eight. I was diagnosed with Type 1 at age seven. With all the press coverage she’s had the past couple of weeks, the only thing I found that dealt with ways Sotomayor’s early diabetes diagnosis may have influenced some of her life decisions was in an article in the Charlotte Observer. The paper revealed that the chronic disease nearly killed her, and that one of the reasons Sotomayor never had children was that she was afraid she wouldn’t be around to raise them. I know what she means. Here’s an excerpt about my high school years From my own memoir, Long Time, No See:

In 1972, at the beginning of freshman year, I was admitted to the hospital twice, both times via the emergency room, both times close to coma. In the first episode, I could still talk when we arrived there, but the second time, Flo found me in a heap on the basement floor and dragged me, a hundred pounds of dead weight, up the stairs and out the back door and into the car. During that second hospitalization, my doctor, exercising his version of bedside manner, declared that I wouldn’t live past age thirty.

I was 14 years old when that happened, and my doctor then couldn’t have known about the diabetic advances around the corner. Fast-acting insulin, diabetic educators and home blood monitoring methods came along too late to save my eyesight, but those advances, along with my husband Mike’s willingness to learn about the disease and motivate me to stay well, have kept me happy and healthy far longer than my Nostradamus pediatrician and I could have expected.

The Charlotte Observer article reported that monitoring her health has become second nature to Sotomayor now, and that she gives herself insulin injections five or six times a day. Me, too! Justice Sotomayor told the reporter that she no longer worries she will die young. “When I reached 50, I was able to let go of that demon,” she said. “But not without recognizing its benefits. It drove me in a way that perhaps nothing else might have to accomplish as much as I could as early as possible.” I know what she means. Justice Sotomayor’s memoir ends when she is named to the Supreme Court; mine ends when we move to Chicago. And hey, with more advances in diabetes around the corner, watch out, world. Sonia and I are just getting started.

judy roth On February 1, 2013 at 12:32 am

I would hope you’d write to her, Beth. I’ll bet she’d write back.

bethfinke On February 1, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Hmmm. Maybe I’ll do that after she settles down from the book tour — my guess is she is getting a lot of fan mail right now!

Barbara Timberlake On February 1, 2013 at 8:34 am

Hugs to my dear friend. God Bless!


Mary McHugh On February 1, 2013 at 9:21 am

Thank you so much for writing this Beth! It’s excellent.

bethfinke On February 1, 2013 at 2:34 pm

That is high praise coming from a fine writer like you, Mary. To my blog readers: Mary McHugh has oodles of books published, and she and I met thanks to her daughter Kyle. Kyle died far too young from Type 1 before so many of the advances in diabetic treatment. As Barbara above says, God bless.

Kim On February 1, 2013 at 11:46 am

My husband and I growl when we hear stories of unfeeling physicians telling patients, “You’ll NEVER” fill-in-the-blank. Doctors (for that matter anyone in a position of authority) can’t predict the future. How dare they kill people’s hopes and dreams. Too many people give up and stop trying after such pronouncements. I’m glad those doctors were wrong, that you and Justice Sotomayor are here, living your lives and inspiring the rest of us.

bethfinke On February 1, 2013 at 2:36 pm

I’m glad we’re here, too, Kim. Thanks. My guess is that the doctor was trying to scare me into behaving better. In a way, I’m glad he said it. Like Sonia, the threat of early death motivated me to do just about anything and everything that came my way.

Bob On February 1, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Have you read her book yet?

bethfinke On February 1, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Not yet, but I’m glad you asked, Bob. Your question led me to check and see if it’s in an audio version and wow, it is! Narrator: Rita Moreno. I’ll be reading/listening to it for sure.

Maria On February 1, 2013 at 10:20 pm

I am CERTAIN that you and Sonia are just getting started! No doubt in my mind….the women, the science….the right combination. You go, girls!

Nancy B On February 2, 2013 at 10:40 am

I was thinking of you and wondering if you were reading her book. She sounds like a pretty cool lady. In the Oprah article she said that she gave up the perfect job (her previous judge job) to be a Justice. High honor but a price to pay with notoriety I guess.

bethfinke On February 6, 2013 at 1:00 am

Yikes, she was in Oprah Mag, too? Next book, I’m hiring Sonia’s publicist.

beckylpcbecky On February 26, 2013 at 11:31 pm

Wow. Thank you so much for sharing. I’m putting this on my books to read now after what you have shared.

My Beloved Benita | Safe & Sound blog On July 24, 2013 at 1:18 pm

[…] When Benita emailed me a few months ago recommending the audio version of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s memoir My Beloved World, I took note. Benita and Justice Sotomayor both grew up in the Bronx, and I am guessing some of the […]

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