I sat in the doctor’s office in Boston feeling absolutely sorry for myself. I hadn’t been blind long, but it seemed a thousand years of hell. I hadn’t been sightless long, but I couldn’t remember what it was like to see. I hadn’t been in the dark for very long, but it sure seemed long enough.
No matter how I approached my seemingly unavoidable demise, no matter how I tried to regroup, no matter how I tried to remain positive, the barrage of unanswerable questions kept pounding me down deeper into the mud. Every time I found the strength to slowly pick myself up, another unsuspecting question came along and threw me back down into the cold, wet, breathless mud. One minute I felt like I stood a small chance of figuring it all out, and the next minute I felt like a devastated beggar, standing in line for a zip loc baggie half full of stale bread crumbs. I hated where I was, and where I was was all that I had. My life was gone. My wife was talking to me, but it felt like she was a million lifetimes away. My job was over, my hobbies were lost, my house had disappeared, my garden had up and walked away, my ash tree out by the well cover, my two dogs, my work truck, my double row of spruce trees, my son, my grandson, everything that was what I called life was all taken from me in the blink of a sightless eye and hidden deep into the darkness. The same cold, endless darkness that swallowed the world that was spinning around me at blinding speed, laughing and poking and ridiculing me until I crawled into a corner and curled up into a surrendered ball of brutalized blindness. What I had was what I didn’t expect, and what I had to look forward to was what I could never want. The troubles of my past seemed laughable compared to the destruction that had broken into my house and devastated the foundations of my home.
It hurt when I tried to think. It hurt when I tried to smile. It hurt when I tried to breathe. It hurt when I tried to live. From time to time the surging tide of disaster would ease, but as quick as it lowered, it came rushing back in with twice the force, completely catching me by surprise every time and leaving me bruised and scarred. It resembled what I would only be able to describe as hell, and no matter how much I didn’t realize or agree with it, I was in complete control of it all.
Not until I realized this did my future seem possible without vision. Not until I figured out that life was a train, and I was the conductor did any of it make sense. Not until I remembered that this life we live is reflective of situations that present themselves, and the choices we make with them define our character and set in motion our futures. When I remembered that this precious thing that I had been experiencing for nearly fifty years was a gift, and that each day opened up a newly wrapped present to live and love, only then did my future start to whisper to me and tell me that just perhaps everything would be ok.
I had been through trials and tribulations throughout my life, and for the most part, I had always been able to shrug them off, learn from them and keep on chugging along. It’s who I had become and it’s what I became used to. We all go through our own ups and downs, and we all find ways to cope and live with and through it all. We always find a way to absorb, adapt and advance our way into tomorrow, and when tomorrow does finally come, there we are again, smack dab in the middle of another experience.
Four short years have gone by. Four trips around the calendar have grabbed me and pulled me into today. Four amazing years of first times, first tries, first firsts have grabbed hold of me and pulled me off to the side, just to show me something different about life.
Four years have shaped and molded me into something I never thought I would become. With all the new gray hairs and all of the broken white cane tips, I have come to realize that maybe, just maybe, everything is going to be ok. I won’t know until I try, that is, I won’t know until I grab my cane and head out the door to see what I can bump into, or trip over, or knock over. I’ve come a long way these past four years. I’ve felt a lot of things, heard a lot of things, learned a lot of things and even seen a lot of things. I always tell people that it’s as if I became blind so that I could finally see. I don’t know what I’m looking at half the time, but I always know what it is that I can see.
If you see me coming at you, it probably means I have some place to go, or I’m looking for more chocolate.
Life is so short. If we only knew just how short it actually is, perhaps our journey would look a little different. I think back on my own journey of the past 52 months. I think back and try to take it all in, but there’s just too much of it. If the last four years are any indication of what the next four will bring, I’m in for one hell of a ride.