“I woke up blind without warning
and live my life with very little sight.
And yet foot surgery
has shown me
that there are still
so many lessons
left to learn.”
* DL = Disabled Lessons
When you dodge a proverbial bullet, there is usually some type of injury from the warning shots that were no doubt fired (how else would you know to duck/run/take cover?) and the intricate maneuvering you’ve had to perform to avoid being hit (without time for stretching) by a bad business deal, relationship, career move or all-encompassing moral decision. You may be left with a pulled hamstring or a back out of alignment, or some skinned knees and sore everything from the stop, drop and roll. But hopefully you will heal quickly and the lasting effects will be minimal. Even if clichés are not your thing, “It could have been worse” was never more true.
Listen to your gut in all things. You will save yourself internal injuries, those of the heart and soul.
My husband has suddenly developed the habit of leaving empty water bottles all over the house. After the three stages of old-married-coupledom: 1) Ask, 2) Tell, 3) Yell, I thought perhaps a story was in order. After all, that’s how children learn.
The text conversation went like this:
Me: In “Sex & The City”, Charlotte and Harry get married and he moves into her Park Avenue apartment. He leaves tea bags all over and they stain the counters and tables. You, you leave water bottles everywhere. No stain, but still a pain.
Him: Didn’t he also walk and sit around naked?
Water bottles will come and go, but the laughter, that remains.
I recently heard the familiar slogan, “Dance Like Nobody’s Watching”. I always thought that was good advice. Now, because of my vision loss, I am both more inside my head than I ever was (and I spent a lot of time in there when fully sighted), and also completely focused on my environment in the interest of safety. The details of my surroundings are no longer available to me, therefore, I operate on shapes and outlines. If someone’s eyes are on me, mine don’t see it. I live my life as if no one is watching.
That does not mean, however, that I don’t sometimes worry about what people think, especially when I do something visually-impaired-ish, like hold something close to my eyes to see it or I walk right up to a public restroom door to determine if it’s a men’s or women’s room or I don’t smile back at a stranger because I don’t know their frown turned upside down is directed at me. But for the most part, all my attention is on what I’m doing so that I don’t fall or succumb to any number of potential dangers that await.
Take it from me, the only eyes that matter are your own.
I usually spend one day a week writing this blog, fleshing our ideas I jot down as they come to me. When the day comes to post a particular draft, I read through it and often find myself making changes when I thought it was done and ready to go. It’s frustrating because I was happy with it, then I’m not.
As I made my 9th edit the other morning to a supposedly done deal, I thought about how we all edit our lives over and over again. What we were content with last week or last year doesn’t work for us anymore, so we delete or we add, we try something new and see how it feels.
My writing about my life is like my life: Always a work in progress. From the smallest of modifications to a complete overhaul, the purpose of each revision is an improvement. And if it turns out that it’s not, it’s okay. In life and in blogs, there is no limit on the numbers of edits you can make.
Our local police chief passed away suddenly at an unacceptable age, and his family organized a motorcade carrying his body through our community, giving the residents he served an opportunity to pay their respects. I was among the many who lined our streets and the gray day seemed appropriate for the occasion.
I didn’t know the Chief but I do know that if I had needed him, he would have been there for me. And isn’t that the very definition of a friend?
I use my mind’s eye more than ever as I live my life with very little sight. It occurred to me recently that perhaps my avid reading since childhood was preparing me for my vision loss. When I read now, with the help of my Merlin electronic magnifier, I see the characters, locations and environments as clearly as I ever did. Reading has been my friend, my hobby, my escape and my passion since I was a little girl, and now I recognize it for the training ground it was. It is as if I am reading my life through my memory, descriptions from the people with me, instinct and imagination. It may not be the greatest story ever told, but I am hoping for a happy ending.
I have a 5” scar on my ankle, a rod and screws lie underneath. I have been incredibly lucky in that aside from somewhat limited flexibility, I suffer no ill effects from the three surgeries that made that scar almost 20 years ago. Weather doesn’t bother it and unless you push hard on the area, I have no pain.
Life’s scars are as unpredictable. Some heal right away, some are fine “post-op” but may cause you complications in the future, some have their own triggers: dates, smells, sounds, places, pictures. And there are those that seem to have never happened at all.
Today is the 7th anniversary of my mom’s death. Yesterday, the scar was painful; today I know it’s there but it does not hurt. Of course, it’s early in the day and I can recall every moment of June 26, 2012 so I can’t be sure that as we approach the moment the scar was created, there won’t be pain.
Everyone heals differently and the severity of the wound is yet another determining factor in that process. My mom and I were attached at the hip, and losing her was not like losing the proverbial limb, but a part of my heart and my soul. Some may not understand why 7 years later I still grieve, why this scar is either numb or painful after 2,556 days. But I know why and I will continue to work hard to find a place in between, where the memories bring me comfort and joy, and honor her and the relationship we shared. And if at 17 years or 27 or 37 it is the same as it is today, I will still know why.
The summer after my ankle injury, when we would go to the beach as we did quite often, I would jokingly tell her that I just knew everyone was staring at my hideous, heinous ankle scar. She would roll her eyes at me, then as seriously as she could, assure me that, yes, everyone was.
A happy memory. No pain.
The healing continues.
I miss you, Mom.
My husband and I went out to breakfast on Father’s Day and the restaurant was crowded as you would expect. We were seated quickly but it took awhile for our server to arrive. She instantly and profusely apologized and I assured her we understood and not to worry about us. We briefly chatted about the chaos of her morning, then placed our order. When we had our fill of coffee, she brought us our check. She thanked us sincerely and sweetly for being so nice.
As we drove home, I thought about her. I said to my husband, “She was nice. We were nice. That’s how life works.” Or is supposed to. It’s sad that kindness is a surprise. The three of us found it that morning at a local breakfast spot but being nice doesn’t reside in a place, It’s in all of us.
Have you given someone a nice surprise today?