I sat there in disbelief. I sat there in shock, with waves of fear and panic swelling inside of me like a high Quoddy tide.
I am sorry Mr. Lyons, but I am afraid there isn’t anything more we can do for you.” The neurologist continued, “It appears that your vision loss is permanent. Once again, I am sorry for your loss.”
With those words, all of my hope was dashed from existence. I could not believe what I was hearing. I could not believe what was happening to me.
I sat there in the exam chair in Boston, alone, confused and blind. My heart rose up in my throat and then sank like a stone, sending ripples through the pool of my past. “What in hell was happening to me? What have I done wrong to deserve this? How can I correct my shortcomings and make a deal with God so I can get this train back on the rails? What in hell do I do now?” My mind was being assaulted by a constant barrage of mind swelling waves of dark and murky waters.
A thousand visions came screaming through my mind as I sat there in that exam room at tufts Hospital. I sat there alone with my thoughts and fears. The doctor kept talking to me, but I couldn’t hear any more of what he was saying. The blow had been struck. The final upper cut sent me spinning down onto the mat for the count. I lay there on the floor, completely disoriented and totally vulnerable to every fear imaginable. I lay there, trying to get up, but unable to. I lay there on the mat, a beaten man, drowning in a sea of humility and self pity.
He kept talking, and my mind kept racing out of control. I saw flashes of myself as an old man with a cane, bouncing down a corridor from wall to wall, like a pinball from an old arcade hall. I saw myself sitting in a dark room, lifeless and alone. I saw myself, lost in the haunted woods of a fearful future, without any hope of finding my way back into the world that seemed now to be just out of reach. I saw myself again and again struggling with everything under the sun.
Only once in my life had I ever experienced quite the same feelings of complete despair. The day when my wife and I found out that my new born son had the same cancer that I had been born with, which was the same cancer that was the main cause for my sudden vision loss that darkened my world just a few short days before. That day, much like this one, was a gut wrenching, never ending stormy day.
As I was pushed in my wheelchair back to my hospital room, I felt a sense of hopelessness and disbelief. I thought I was going to die. I just felt that bad. The waves of fear and anxious torment came at me one by one. Their never ending onslaught took its toll on me as I struggled to make sense out of any of the horror novel that I had been thrown into. A fever of anger rose and fell inside me. The tides of destruction were ripping through my heart and emptying my soul. Like a pummeled, battered and bruised boxer between rounds, I sat in my chair with my head hanging down in unmistakable defeat, dazed and confused. I
Wasn’t sure what round we were in, but I knew that it was far from over.
The call was made back home with the news, and also a plea for someone to come and get me the hell out of Boston. I hated that town. I hated the state and the county and the street the hospital was on and everyone that worked there. Hell, I hated everyone and everything. How could the world keep turning when I was going through this sci-fi movie from hell?
I sat in my hospital room unaware of anything going on around me. There were still people in the hospital being saved and cared for as I sat there, but I couldn’t have cared in the least. The hospital kept on being a hospital, which was the same hospital that I had such great hopes for just a couple of days earlier. I was confident that when my son had brought me to Boston, they surely would be able to fix me. They would surely be able to help me see again. They had to.
Unfortunately, they didn’t because they couldn’t, and I hated them for it.
As the hours rolled by, I sat there waiting for my son to come and take me home. A movie played over and over in my mind. It usually started a little different every time, but it always ended the same, with me being alone in a dark room. Alone, blind, scared, frightened and just a poor, pitiful mess. Every movie that played out in my mind had me cast as the main character in a sightless dark and cruel plot.
How was I ever going to be able to go on? How could I ever learn how to live this way? How was I ever going to be a grandfather, or a father, or a son, or a husband, or a brother, or a nephew, or a cousin, or an uncle, or just a plain man when I was totally and horribly blind? I had too much to do. I had too many things that were unfinished. I needed to be able to see. I needed, wanted, craved, yearned for and desired all of the things that had been stolen from me in the blink of an eye.
After three or four hours, my son finally did show up, and he helped me out of the hospital and across the street to the parking garage. The world around me outside was as dark as my room inside the hospital. They seemed like the same place. They seemed the same, lightless, unfamiliar thing. So did me.
Once we crossed The Tobin Bridge and were out of Boston I finally did get a chance to take a deep breath. I could sense the world still going on around me as we raced up the interstate towards Maine. Knowing that we were going home had some kind of affect on me. I had a calming soothing feeling for the first time in a few days, and it felt good.
My son turned to me in the car and said something that still echoes in my head to this day. He spoke to me words that I have tried to live each day since then.
“You know dad,” He said. “It looks like one door has closed, but I think another one will open up for you.”
I started to cry under my breath and as he touched my arm I felt at that moment that somehow, everything would be ok.
I prayed to God that afternoon to take control of my days, to take the steering wheel and help me through the journey that was ahead of me. It is a struggle every day to admit that I need help, and guidance, and support, but I do.
It has been two years, and I still hear my son’s words. I hear his words and I am going through the open door. I am going through and I am excited today. I am excited because of the possibilities that lie before me.
I am still blind. I still grieve and morn the loss of my sight. I also know that all of my grief and sorrow and disbelief will not help me get through this day.
I made a personal commitment to myself to take any challenge head on, and to not pass up any opportunities to live and learn. I am looking for new doors to open myself. I did lose my sight, but I still can see. Oh how I can see.
I have prayed many days since then and continue to ask God to give me the strength to get through a day. Just one day. Just this day. There have been many days, and I have pulled through each of them a better man. Well, I should say, most of them.
Those dark days in Boston are behind me now. My story and my life race on as I hang on for dear life. Most days I feel that I can see things more clearly than ever before. With the loss of my sight, I have discovered the visions of my future, and hold tightly to the memories of my past. The possibilities are endless, countless, and limitless. I feel more excited now over the possibilities than probably any other time in my life. Blindness took away so much from me, but it also seems to be willing to give me everything that I will open up my eyes to. My future lives inside of me, and nowhere else.
If I can manage to get my dusty, rusty butt up and out of my complacently, comfy chair, I should be ok.
Now, where did I leave my cane?