Seeing what matters
Posted on April 4th, 2013
he letters wouldn’t come into focus.
I wasn’t concerned at first. ‘He’s just going to start flipping through those lenses and everything will sharpen up,’ I told myself. ‘You’ll see.’
But as the ophthalmologist began to click through the lenses (“Tell me which is better,” he intoned, “one or two?”), the letters stayed blurry, inscrutable figures nearly obscured by the brightness behind them. Quietly, I began to panic, experiencing a kind of test anxiety as I waited for him to ask me to read one of the lines. When his student distracted him with a question and he forgot to quiz me on a line, I felt a rush of childish relief.
I couldn’t read the lines, not any of them. Had my near-sightedness progressed to a point where my eyes could no longer be corrected tothe sharpness I usually enjoyed?
There are places I visit now that remind me of how much time has passed, of what my age means in real-world terms. The dentist office is one of them. The first time I received the news that a filling I needed replaced would require a crown, I am proud to tell you that I managed to make it all the out of the appointment and into my car before tearing up.
And now the eye doctor, where I learned that the days of perfect vision were well and truly over. Before leaving the office, the letters came into focus; my contact-wearing corneas see the world differently through lenses designed to shape the prescription for glasses, and so the letters were rendered runny and illegible to me. But the doctor confirmed eyes like mine could not be corrected to 20/20 anymore. Had I considered surgery?
Then on my way to pick up two of The Three today, I stopped in at the store to pick up a few things. I found my favorite friend there, working. When I reached him in line, he pulled out his phone to show me a picture of him hooked up to tubes in the hospital. He’d had an allergic reaction at work on Friday and had stopped breathing. After a two-day hospital stay he was back at work, ringing up my groceries and telling his tale.
“I am so glad that I get to see Wendy again!” he told me, laughing.
There are a lot of ways to see. My eyes may be weakened by age and use, but I am so grateful for the perspective my years give me. It helps me see what’s really important.
“I am so glad to see you, too.” I told him.∗