To See, or not To See

I am not “blind as a bat” but it sure sometimes feels close to it.  I can roll over in bed and look towards the clock but I can’t see what time it is.  I can sit up in bed and look towards the door jamb but would not be able to see who was standing in it.  I could sit on the sofa and look towards the television but would only be able to see that it was on, not what was on.  I’ve been on many blind dates, my ridiculously long truck has a serious blind spot, and I have one too many times turned a blind eye…I have many blessings in my life, but the gift of sight is not one of them.

Without my glasses on or contacts in, I have about 11 inches of clarity.  I test myself often, to see just how bad my eyes are, and for example, I am typing here this morning with my coffee at my desk in front of the computer and my head is exactly 21 inches from the screen, yes, I measured, and once I take off my glasses all I can see is that I am in fact sitting in front of my computer and that the screen is illuminated but I can clearly SEE nothing…not a single letter on the keyboard, not a single number of the wall calendar, not the brand name of the phone or the printer on my desk…it’s a very odd sensation to even try to understand, for those of you who SEE, to even imagine what it’s like, to not be able to see anything.

I have many recurring dreams in my life and one of them that wakes me up in a dripping sweat with a rapidly beating heart is the one where I am running in the woods…and I never “know” if I am running towards something or from something, but I am running lightening fast and so skillfully, and the woods are thick and the underbrush is dense and yet I am able to keep my arms out and can sweep away the limbs, and then I stumble, and my glasses go flying, and I can’t reach them or see them or anything…and I get back up in my dream and begin to try to continue on, and am paralyzed with blurry fear, as I cannot see…anything…and then I bolt wide awake…

And so on Friday afternoon at 3 o’clock I left work to go have an eye exam at a new doctor…and now that I have health insurance get one free exam a year, which is splendid since I had not been to my “regular” eye doctor since 2006!  Now, to be clear, that’s a choice in where I spend my money, meaning I certainly could have afforded to go over these last many years if I chose for example to get Chinese take-out ten fewer times over the year, or bought 18 fewer bottles of wine over the year…it’s not that the eye doctor was so overpriced I could not afford to go every year as I am supposed to, it’s that as a single self-employed woman, my income is such that I have to make many choices over the days of the year as to how and where I spend the money I earn, and getting my eyes checked never really wins over take-out food or alcohol…so anyway, the nurse sets the refraction exam machine to my present glasses prescription and then the doctor starts with the exam questions, “which is clearer, one or two?”  and “which is sharper, top or bottom?”  and all those little lens discs she begins clicking in that mask, and I can’t believe as the exam is happening, how amazing it feels to SEE so well, when I say, “A or bottom,”  it’s like a whole new world is just beyond my nose when she changes those lenses to different levels of sharpness, clarity, depth…and I think in awe, “what must it be like to see like this every day?!!?”

I can’t even imagine how exciting it would be to have my granddaughters walk in my house and for me to look up from crocheting and SEE their beautiful faces without having to stop to put my glasses on, or to have dinner with my boyfriend and SEE his smile or his eyes brighten as he tastes his favorite dish I’ve  made, or the dragonflies, hummingbirds, and deer outside my walls every evening…there is so much to SEE every second of the day, and I need help to do it…SO, I got a new prescription for eyeglasses and for contact lenses, all of which are now on order.  It seems I am also now going to be a person with reading glasses strewn around the house, and my truck, and in my purse, as I need one level of magnification “readers” for when I will be wearing my contacts, and then a second level of magnification “readers” for when I am wearing my glasses but have to take them off for close up work or reading…oh lord!!  I am soon going to be one of those women with a pair of glasses on my face, one holding my hair back, and one around my neck hanging on a decorative chain!!

On my drive back to work after my exam I thought, well, I suppose I can keep all my old glasses for when I paint ceilings or pressure wash decks…meaning basically now they can just be trash…and then I had a better thought, no, they should not be trash at all…what about women who are at Providence House??  …homeless with their kids and had to leave their marriages in the middle of the night??  or were taken out of their residences by the police and had to leave their personal things behind?? or lost their glasses in the chaos of a melee and now can’t see?? …and I felt so happy thinking that when my new glasses and new contacts arrive, I’ll be donating 6 pair of clear and 6 pair of sunglasses to Providence House, and maybe the prescription won’t be accurate or perfectly clear, and maybe the shapes of the frames won’t be a style the women would have chosen for themselves if they were at a store, but for these women who can use the glasses, it will be clear to me that I’ll sleep better knowing that those women will be able to see the faces of their children a little bit clearer, and that above all, is really the greatest  sight for sore eyes…

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