On June 2nd, 2010, everything in my world suddenly became dark. The first thing I saw when my vision started creeping back was the face of my lovely wife. I remember every detail of that sight, from her wonderful blue eyes, to her dark eye brows, to her amazing hair, to her sweet Italian smile, everything that I had grown so fond of, wrapped up in a vision that was all mine.
My loss of sight on that day lasted roughly forty-five minutes. Three quarters of an hour of amazing terror, sheer panic, anxious unknowns, and a sense of urgency that I had rarely ever felt before in my life. My world was quickly taken away from me, but it slowly came back to me once again, and I felt a sense of appreciation that I had also rarely ever felt. To have everything that I knew swept away in a flash caused me to take a long look at things that I thought were important, and things that I was very sure were important. It was as if someone instantly built a darkened brick wall and set it right in front of me, along with everything else in existence. It was as awful as awful could ever be.
When my vision finally came back, I was able to grab hold of it for another month. I was able to revel in the light fantastic, and all of it’s surroundings. I was able to enjoy life, for the most part, as I had known it to be up till then. My vision wasn’t quite what it had been before, but it was surely enough to enable me to maintain and withstand. I was not able to return to work, as my line of work required me to drive all week. I had a spot of distortion near the center of my vision field, and over the month of June, it did get better. So much better in fact that my ophthalmologist told me at the end of June that I could return to normal activities, including driving.
I was elated. I was ecstatic. I was determined to slide right back into the life I knew, right in stride, not missing a beat. I was confident that my job would be the same as it ever was, and my work peers and wholesale customers would be the same as they ever were. Everything was going to be ok, and I could get on with my usual, old ways of existing.
Three days before I was to return to work, I lost my vision again after a series of strokes which were similar to the first one a month earlier, in which the central artery that supplied my retina collapsed. Over the course of fourteen hours, my vision got worse and worse, until a long burst of strokes left me blind.
The last face I saw was my wife’s. The last smile I saw was hers. The last pair of eyes I gazed into were hers, and I never looked back.
I remember the sunshine that morning. I remember walking the dogs around the yard, still able to see where I was going. I remember the sun coming in through the kitchen window. I remember the colors and the sounds and the feelings of that morning, and I suppose I will until my time here on this big blue spinning marble is up.
I was able to see a little bit of my surroundings periodically for the next two years, thanks to the right side temporal vision I was left with. It wasn’t much to work with, but with the minimal visual cues that I would occasionally get, made things a lot easier to maneuver around with. Bits and pieces of a world just out of reach, or so it seemed, captured my imagination and reminded me of how things used to be. The colors, though faded and murky, were there. Their sharp edges and brilliant descriptions eluded me though. I was looking through cheese cloth just before dusk, and even though I would try to shake the murky waters from the reflection pool, it never got any better.
I have been able to see a few clear moments of other folks’ personal characteristics from time to time, and just about all of them have been the face of my wife. Hers was indeed the last one that I have been able to make out, and the image that I saw and catalogued into my fogged bank of memory is the same image that I fell in love with when I first met her.
I will forever remember her eyes, her lovely cheek bones, her incredible eyebrows, and I will never forget her amazing smile.
It seems fitting that the woman I fell in love with is the last person I will probably ever see. It seems right that even though, with all of the faces and memories that I can pull up for recollection, hers is the one I see the most.
I will, hopefully, forever be able to hear her voice calling out my name. I will be able to feel her touch, and yes, feel her gaze, but the way my heart used to skip a beat when I found her looking at me will always be able to recharge my battery whenever I happen to remember.
The visions of my past are a treasure to me now. They play over and over the story of how I came to be. They tell the tale of things that I loved to watch, to see, to view, to look at and explore. They tell the adventurous tales of my youth and they tell the story of my life as an adult.
I am not the same person without my sight. I have lost certain aspects of who I was, but with this new found lightless sight, I am discovering more about myself than I ever did before. I am discovering new things about those I know, and things I do. I am learning how to listen to what I can’t see, and learn from what I can. I have been frustrated more times than I can count, but with the frustration comes patience and fortitude. I am learning how to be me all over some days. I am discovering a new vision with new results, new results that are shaping my future and molding my character.
I will continue on, with the help of family, friends, mentors, and a pocket full of inspiration that I have never known before.