Wednesday, July 22, 2015

blindness at the break of dawn

I had this panic attack, I think that's what they're called.  A real first.  It was about a month ago, one 5:00 AM or so.  My usual time for waking up and worrying about the seas rising. Trying to calculate whether I live in the flood zone or out of it. And by how much either way. Worrying about liquefaction.  Yup, I worry about things like that. Worry about whether I can pay my bills, balance the checkbook to the penny, live long enough to prosper.  I'm really good at worry.  But not panic.

This was a panic attack.  A real one.

It was about blindness.  My eyes have been misbehaving more and more of late. And in the place of my usual global-sized concerns came this quite visceral and personal one.  I contemplated life without sight, and what that might be like, and whether I would be willing to live that life., or let life go. I thought of every single thing in the world that I'd have to give up.

Could I live without color?  I really wasn't sure I'd be willing to try. I thought of every pleasure in my life, and every drop of it for me was visual.  Petty little things. Like hiking on the cliffs, picking fruit in the market, driving.  I included driving—and I hate driving. But it made for a good panic.

Got into a disagreement (too short to call a fight) with my partner's mother over dinner not long ago.  Or maybe it was breakfast.  Something I made, and I apologized.  It didn't look right.

"As long as it tastes good," she said. And I begged to differ.  How could it taste good if it wasn't beautiful?

And we dropped the subject. It would not have been a fruitful question to explore.

So. The panic.

I should note, that even now as I write, my eyes are starting to fail.  I'm not sure if I can finish this post before the screen fades completely before my eyes. Solution: I'll keep it short. Very short.

Went to the eye doctor, and what did he say? Cataracts still 'not visually significant' but getting there. And okay, so panic gone. Something can be done about it, right?

And the panic went away, making me feel silly. And selfish. I had panicked over something so personal, rather than something larger than the self. I felt ashamed.

But in my panic, I visualized life without sight. Right down to the minutest of details. I practiced, even. Waking up and going through the morning rituals with my eyes closed.  A shower's not so bad, unless the bar of soap slips out of your hand. Then it's a bit more treacherous...

A couple days ago, someone I hold dear went suddenly blind. And she may or may not regain her sight. She did not panic. She faltered. It was more than her sight she was losing. Her platelets were rebelling against platelets. An autoimmune disease.I find it all so inexplicable. There is no why.

She's handling it with such grace, except for the eyedrops she must endure every four hours. She's relying on other senses to get her by until her malady passes.  And I insist it must, it must pass. And she must live. And I look at her, and all I want for her is life. And she shows me how it can be done.

They key, of course, is that she's surrounded by so much love. Humans who adore her more than anything else in the world. She is cared for. Protected. And most of all, adored. She has those loving bodies curled up next to her, warm against her skin. The love wards off panic and fear, and maybe some of the confusion. She's calm. And greeting each and every moment.

And I? I'm a bit jealous.


I'm not proof reading this. The blur and haze are setting in for the night...