Snow Fall

I fell Monday night. I got up. This morning I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t have. Everything hurts and my knee is more colorful than the most beautiful rainbow I can no longer see. Which is how I fell. There wasn’t actually a rainbow but a small pile of snow. Which was white, a color I can see. Only I didn’t.

My husband picked up milk on his way home from work so I could finish preparing dinner. He stopped by our house to hand it off then he would head to the gym. I met him out front, got the 1% and turned to make the few steps back to the curb. There was a small leftover pile of snow and I tripped on it and found myself flying through the air with the greatest of ease. The landing? Not so easy. Before I had even hit the sidewalk I was turned enough to see my husband getting out of the car. I made contact with the concrete with both palms, left wrist and knee. I quickly assessed the damage and found myself shaken but unbroken, except for some skin. And my spirit.

I began to cry. I sat on the sidewalk and assured my husband I was ok but everything hurt. The gallon of milk lay on its side a few feet away. I couldn’t stop crying and told him I had to sit there for a few minutes. I couldn’t pull myself together. This is only the second time I’ve fallen in the five years since my vision loss (knocking on dining room table like a woodpecker, I am) and consider myself lucky at that. And truth be told, I’m not entirely sure this tumble was due to my sight. Whatever the cause, the effect was the same: Ouch. They say you only have to get up one more time than you fall to be a success, to get through something difficult. It’s simple math and the honest truth. But it sure felt good to sit on the sidewalk and cry. I finally got up and climbed the 14 stairs to our house, still crying and feeling the sting of the scrapes on my knee and hands. I found myself thinking about  Bactine from my childhood of all things.

Two days later I am sore all over. It’s always the second morning that you find out exactly what you’re made of, because you can feel every inch of your aching body. I got back on the proverbial horse today and took my walk around the neighborhood. The irony is not lost on me that I walk 20 miles a week outside for exercise without incident (more knocking and yet I took a misstep right in front of my home. I am happy to report that I wasn’t skittish on my trek this morning and my slowed time was only because of soreness and not fear.

I will no doubt fall again, and I may sit awhile and shed some more tears, but I will always get up. It doesn’t have to be pretty and chances are it’s gonna hurt for days if not weeks, months or even years, but staying in the place where you fall only feels good for so long. After that you’re bruised, snotty and bleeding on a cold sidewalk for all the neighbors to see. Crying over spilt milk.


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Holding A Stranger’s Heart Makes Them A Stranger No More

I was given this heart by my therapist. A number of them had been left in her waiting room and knowing I couldn’t see them there, she had chosen this one for me.

The organization responsible for these hearts is The Peyton Heart Project, The name on mine is Sean Michael Flynn and he committed suicide at the age of 18. I googled him and found his obituary. There, in his red cap and gown, a smiling graduate with his whole life ahead of him. Three months after that moment was captured he was gone.

I don’t pretend to know his experience or what caused him to take his own life. I do know that after it became clear that my sight would not be fully restored I asked myself over and over: Can I live the rest of my life like this? I voiced this to those closest to me. This question never led to a plan, it never went any further. But it stayed with me for a long time until one day it was gone.

I’ve hung the heart and tag on the electronic magnifier I use to read. It reminds me every day of this young man whose heart now has a place in mine.

To find out more about The Peyton Heart Project, click here.


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There’s No Trust Without Us

Trust. We have less of it these days and with good reason. Dangers have increased and we are much more aware of them then ever before. It’s necessary to be cautious but it’s incredibly sad that it has come to this. I remember an innocent time when we played with our friends around the block from home, with no adult supervision. We weren’t the least bit afraid and neither were our parents. “Stranger Danger” wouldn’t become a part of growing up until many decades later. The world is a scary place and our trust is a precious agreement, to be given and received with the great respect it deserves.

There are still many things we do everyday without thought that require a tremendous amount of trust. Every time we get in a car we are trusting the hundreds of people also on the road with us. We trust bridges to support us over water and traffic lights to work in synch. Pilots and train engineers hold our lives in their hands. When we eat food at a restaurant or enjoy a drink at a bar we trust they were prepared safely. We trust our doctors and other healthcare professionals to treat us ethically and in some cases, save us. Car mechanics, attorneys are given unconditional trust to do the job we expect them to do.

If we are very lucky, we have friends and family we can trust with our deepest, darkest secrets, our hopes, dreams and fears. Our feathered and furry companions trust us to take care of them and to never hurt them. We, in turn, trust them not to bite us or destroy the house when we’re not looking. And we must trust ourselves to follow our instincts, hearts and minds to live the life we want.

Trust still exists. Sure there is a lot to be wary of. But a civilized society requires we have trust in the systems that are in place and in each other. Our identities can be stolen but our humanity cannot.


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Four Storms And Four Ordeals Ago

We are in the throes of our fourth nor’easter and I had this thought: just because you’ve weathered one storm doesn’t make the next one any easier. Yesterday I received the results of a skin biopsy I had done last Thursday. The four days between the test and the outcome were full of fear and anger at myself for feeling so afraid. I have been through four extremely difficult medical devastations in a span of two years and instead of hardening me to health challenges I find myself terrified every time I am faced with a questionable spot on the inside or out. I don’t like feeling like this and logically I know it’s a waste of time and energy to worry about something that hasn’t happened yet. A suspicious area on your body does not automatically indicate a dire diagnosis.

What I have come to understand is that it’s not that I immediately go to the worst case: death, but instead I know firsthand the process of being examined, poked, prodded and treated and the toll that takes on you even if you find yourself cured when all is injected and stitched. When I woke up blind with other odd symptoms, I wasn’t terrified nor did I think I wouldn’t fully recover. With every negative result from tests I had heard of but never expected to undergo, I believed if there was no cause the effect would be reversed. In the other three cases, I was not the patient but rather the daughter, wife and daughter-in-law respectively, and the advocate, focusing solely on their care and not my emotions. I was fearless back then, before illness and death. Even now as I rebuild my life I consciously do something brace every day. But at the first sign of a sun spot or lymph node, I am now frightened and shaken to my core.

My mom taught me from a young age to be grateful I could be helped when I had an injury or a condition that could be fixed. She was right, of course, and I am always thankful when I am made better. But like today, as I watch local coverage of the storm and play with Piper, our parrot, drink hot chocolate and appreciate that everyone I care about is home, safe and sound, I know what it will take to clean up after it ends. I know the shoveling that will be involved, the aches and pains and the messy roads for days to come. We are expecting two waves of snowfall today and meteorologists are breaking down the accumulation totals separately. The double dose will add up to one large total,  on the heels of three recent similar weather events. Digging out from the foot of snow will occur and very soon there won’t be a trace of it. If only I could say the same about the residual flakes left behind by the four back-to-back health scares of a few years ago.


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A Sign He Is A Wonderful Young Man

My nephew gave me this sign after he saw it while he was out shopping with my mother-in-law. When I opened the package, I was a bit confused. I knew he chose it for its literal meaning but I didn’t know why. But he reminded me that during our trip to Boston in August, he, my husband and I could not find a downtown restaurant that was a few blocks from Fenway and I was not happy with his uncle, our navigator. It was a hot summer morning even though it was early and walking in circles caused me to lose my patience. I tried to make light of my meltdown as it was happening and my nephew and I laughed through it at Uncle Lost On The Way To Breakfast’s expense.

The fact that this almost-teenager saw this sign at Kohl’s and thought of that morning four months prior and wanted to give it to me touched me deeply. While looking at when I got home that evening, I couldn’t help but wonder if on some level he understood the bigger meaning of this saying. Twelve now, he was seven when I lost my vision and he doesn’t really remember the aunt who drove him around and read to him but he knows I once had my full sight. He knows my life was very different than it is now and I do believe he thinks about that when we are together. I hope that I am setting a good example for him by showing him that you cannot quit when life throws you a curveball. He is, after all, a baseball player.

I hung the sign next to the chair set close to the TV, at sitting eye level, and I look at it and love it everyday. I think it’s something we all need to keep in mind: There is no going back, only forward. Not longing for what came before can be the hardest thing you will ever have to do but just like on that sweaty, frustrating walk to breakfast, good things lie ahead. The cinnamon French toast that morning was the best we have ever had and we’re still talking about it. Having memories is wonderful but making new ones is the sweetest, beating out even our delicious breakfast by many more miles than those we covered that morning. My nephew didn’t just give me a sign, he gave me a compass. And excited as I am today about my future, I am even more so about his.


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You Gotta Do You. And For Me That’s Blue.

Several rooms in our house need painting. Badly. Neither my husband nor I have any experience in this DIY realm and have decided to start small with our bathroom. A tan color will go on the walls to match the existing tile and flooring and a green on the trim around the window and doors. I have been looking online at all the options but it has been futile for you see, I don’t see color. The exception is shades of blue but other than that, they all look the same to me: dark or light with no discernible coloration.

I asked a friend to help me make my color selections and I found some possibilities based on their name to share with her. But after a few minutes of show-and-tell it became clear that this was going to be harder than I thought. I am not overly picky about such things but I obviously want my home to look nice. And even though we will work it out, this is one of those times when I am really frustrated that I can no longer see properly. I am not one to hem and haw about decisions and really want to,get on with this project.

Awake early this morning, I began searching colors again, only to come to the same result. They say that’s the definition of insanity, you know. I want to paint our bedroom some variation of blue and have been resolute that our bathroom shouldn’t be blue too. Staring at the muted, washed out thumbnails, there was “my blue” as I and those who know me have come to think of royal, bright or electric variations. And then a jolt of clarity as strong as a can of paint hitting me in the head: If blue is the color I see and have come to love, who the Fires Of Hell Red (not a real color but it probably should be) cares if every surface in my house is covered in it? The fact that I actually googled “most popular bathroom colors” is almost as disappointing to me as the fact that I no longer have a rainbow view of the world nor can I see an actual rainbow. After five years of adjusting and adapting to my vision deficiencies I thought I had turned the Ocean Tides (let the legally blind girl name your colors, Sherwin Williams!) and make them work for ME. By choosing a color I can actually see and enjoy – I mean, DUH!!! – I am also taking back the fun of decorating my home.

When you know better you blue better. Apparently I still have a lot to learn. And 671 shades to choose from.


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