Wednesday, April 12, 2017

the blind line


She sits beside me on the sofa.  So close she is pinching my leg beneath her.  Her shoulder digging in as she leans against me.
Thirteen- in underwear and a thin tee shirt sitting in the front room scanning the photo files on our computer.  Her boldness and confidence always amazes me.

I stopped looking for the 3 photos we need for the team banquet (one baby, one toddler, on current) ten minutes ago. I am now simply testing a hypothesis.

"What about this one?" I ask over and over.  Her "no's" are defiant dripping with disgust.  While her "yes's" are oozing with laughter.

The difference between them is whether or not she is wearing glasses.


I ask her why not this one pointing at a photo of young Beach glasses included.  She shutters, "I couldn't see.  It makes me so sick to remember." And she turns away from the glowing screen.

As we scroll and skip she makes other comments.  "Man, I was obliviously." "I was always looking the wrong way." "I was in my world, wasn't I?"

People make poor historians.  We tend to forget.  We store memories in duplicate and mix the 2 versions up then spit it back out diluted and rearranged. 

I have forgotten how bad it was.


I have forgotten how often it ended in tears.
Forgotten the sound of her baby animal cry, "mamma!" when ever she thought she was lost.
The shut down when we started patching in an attempt to gain vision.
The places she wouldn't go because she didn't do well in crowds.
The hands cupped around her face, nose pressed to the glass museum cases trying to see in.
The work and frustration of learning to interpreted what she was seeing.
And the quiet corner she finally retreated into. The one I thought she would never get out of.


We tell people that Beach is legally blind even with correction in her left eye, low sighted in her right.  We tell them she has no depth perception, very little peripheral vision in either eye, and totally night blind.  But we don't feel it anymore, not like we did then.  The fear only rises when I wonder about her future or the lights in the gym suddenly dim.

When the documentary team called us about doing a little mini doc on Beach I had a hard time remembering all the details of how we got here. It wasn't until Moises asked me on camera about patching that I stumbled.  I lost my train of thought.


All  I could see was the image of her on the first day she got her glasses.  How she had pushed the big chair up until it touched the television- and she still couldn't see it.


Her glasses allowed the left eye just enough power to input an image that made no sense.  It projected over what the right eye was seeing and left her with a muddled mess.  A mess that took years to sort out. Years.

"I'm sorry," I said looking down from the camera, "it was just so hard...."


The in between here and there is gymnastics.  She gained more sight and sight understanding from the gym then she did from 2 years of patching and PT!


Once Beach asked me if there was anything I would change about her.... that was a long time ago.


Back when we talked about sight all the time.  Before she gasped when she saw the first plane she had ever seen flying in the sky.  Before she could play Yellow Bus- back when she asked us to not point things out that were outside the car windows because it only made her sad she couldn't see them.


Then and now the answer to her question is No.
I won't change a thing about her.


The kid on the sofa beside me picking through photos is the kindest most thoughtful kid I know.  She see things in ways no one else can.  Her passions all center around what she has spent her life fighting for- vision.


She has created her own way because she had to.  The pay off was she got to choose how she wanted her world to look. She made it beautiful, full of glorious little details, and bathed in sunshine. 

I spent more time watching her interact with various girls and coaches at Regionals than I did her gymnastics. We received huge compliments on what a great teammate and gymnast she was.  How kind and sweet she is. She always makes me proud!


It is heart breaking to be reminded just how much of her life she spends struggling to find the light.  But the light she finds is unmistakably the most brilliant.

"You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it's important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages."  Michelle Obama

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