In addition to the still-more-frequent than I would like blurry eyes, I've been plagued this past year with a recurring eye infection that is very irritating coming as it does with constant watering, sensitivity and redness that the strongest eyedrops seem ineffectual in the face of. This past week it's been acting up again (if it were a teenager I'd be at my wit's end) and today when I went walking, so excited to be able to go walking in sunshine, the combined forces of cold, wind and stabby rays of light combined to have me walking nearly the entire half hour with my left eye shut.
I have a friend who recently lost an eye to cancer and who is adjusting to a world with reduced vision and all its attendant discombobulations. Granted, I COULD open my eye and did as I walked (though almost always shutting it again immediately as it twinged and complained with an sudden influx of aggravated tearing up) but the entire way around the village I thought, aha! This is what it must be like for her: this strange hyper-focusing, this need to crane my head further around than normal in both directions.
Karin was with me, on her bike, and as is her wont, she was all over the place: speeding up ahead of me, then stopping to wait, swooping in elongated circles forward and back of me, switching from side to side as she passed so that I never knew where she was coming from. It was disorienting, and though we were pretty much the only people out at that particular time in the afternoon, I felt as though I was being buzzed by a swarm of oblivious insects, who were never thinking about anything but their OWN trajectory.
I had dinner before bookgroup with brief_therapy who, after moving out of the city recently, is considering withdrawing slightly from things in order to enjoy her idyllic new life as a country mouse. And here I was thinking, but not saying, "but I don't see you enough as it is!" She and I happened to touch upon, during the course of our conversation, how our mutual friend, shazzerlive, is doing since the loss of her eye, and both of us expressed admiration for her positive attitude and example in dealing with her new circumstances. "I can't imagine it," I said, and Geena agreed. She said having something happen to her eyes was not to be thought of and that she'd rather be deaf than blind (if'n I suppose there was ever a choice in such matters). I agreed with her then, but I've been sort of mulling it over in the back of my brain since then, wondering.
I have another friend who is legally blind, though you'd never know it. She has a tiny pinprick's worth of vision left in one eye that she capitalizes on to such an extent that she manages to get around and handle everything in her life (including a baby) with no real loss of function. "Until I smack into a lamp-post or trip on something below eye level that I didn't know was there," she laughs disaparagingly when I tell her how amazing I think she is for her ability to not just handle things but conceal her very real disability. I find, when I am with her, that it's often easy to forget that she can't SEE...often until I try and hand her something at waist level and realize after a few seconds when she doesn't react or reach out to take it, that, oh yeah...she can't SEE me handing it to her.
If I couldn't hear, there'd be no chance of reacting to infectious laughter. No heeding of shouted warnings or greetings. There'd be no whispered I love yous from my children when I kiss them good night, words flitting straight from their lips to my heart. There'd be no quiet talks with my husband, going over our days, our dilemmas, the planning, the logistics of being a couple, of being parents. No international phone calls with my mother, my sister, my brother; effectively severing a precious connection as surely as if the wire were cut. There'd be no music.
There'd be no music.
But the thought of being blind makes me shiver. We take so much for granted when we're healthy and all our parts are in working order. When you think of its loss, every ray of sunshine becomes a blessing; every time you catch someone's eye and smile, it's a joyous gift to be celebrated.
Bright and Beautiful Belated Birthday Wishes to somebodystrange!