Frank and I had not been married long when we had to make a trip back to Missouri to renew my driver’s license. I was still traveling back and forth between Texas and Missouri, and was not really a full-fledged Texas resident yet.
Well, I didn’t pass the eye test for my driver’s license, so we went to fill a glasses prescription that I had gotten three months before and hadn’t gotten around to filling.
When I got the new glasses the next day, they were no better. The eyeglass place insisted that the glasses were for the prescription I’d been given, and suggested I set up an eye appointment and have my eyes reexamined. Wanting badly to get my license renewed, we went ahead and scheduled the eye exam.
It had only been three months, so we knew that the eyeglass place had just not done the glasses right.
We went to the eye appointment, and that’s when we were told. I was going blind.
Just like that.
The eye doctor did give me a waiver so that I could continue driving only in bright daylight and in familiar places. Frank and I headed back to Texas, driver’s license in hand, numb from the news we had just received.
It didn’t happen overnight, but it happened. For awhile, I just went on with business as usual. I drove my son to school, cooked, cleaned, and did all the usual stuff I always had done. But it was getting more difficult. I noticed I couldn’t read the words on the screen at the front of the church when it was time to sing praise hymns. We were sitting on the front row.
We knew we needed help. I had never dealt with being blind, and Frank had never dealt with a blind wife, and we didn’t know what to do to prepare for this eventuality. So, I did nothing, except wonder what I was going to do.
We began attending a new church. We had been praying for some guidance in this matter of me losing my vision, and we had been going from church to church trying to find one we were all comfortable with and that had a good youth group for Joel.
We were sitting there our first time in a new Sunday School class, waiting for class to start, when in walked a guy with a cane. It wasn’t the kind of cane you lean on, it was the kind sight-impaired people use to find their way around.
With him was his wife, who had her seeing-eye dog with her. Frank and I just looked at each other.
As it turns out, this couple headed a large organization which was a support group for the blind and sight-impaired. We were invited to a meeting, and from there we were connected with organizations and government programs that offered help to those in my situation.
The state of Texas, county of Dallas, began sending people to our home to prepare me for what lay ahead. I took cane training, which involved me being blindfolded and led around places like my church, Macy’s, the park, etc., to learn to get around with just the cane. Someone else came and gave me brail lessons, and a caseworker came once a week and taught me how to navigate the house to do tasks such as cooking, sewing, and light housework.
And I cried a lot. Not in front of anybody, or where anybody could hear me. I mean, it’s not as if there weren’t plenty of other people with vision impairment that were doing just fine. What kind of baby was I, to cry over something that others had learned to cope with?
First of all, I was depressed over the cost of being sight-impaired. There are so many wonderful inventions and gadgets that are really helpful to people with vision problems or blindness. With enough money a blind person can use a computer, find out in a second if the shirt they are choosing goes with the pants they have on, find out what is in the can they have just picked up at the grocery store, etc–there are machines and programs that do all of this and more. But most of them are expensive. Very expensive. I couldn’t justify, for instance, paying for a machine that made it so I could read, when I was looking at eventually losing my vision totally, rendering the expensive machine useless. Thousands of dollars for an eventual doorstop was just something I couldn’t bring myself to ask for.
But there was light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve mentioned before that sometimes it seems like there is no light there, because we can’t see it. But it’s there. You just have to believe it’s there, because it is. Life doesn’t stay the same. It moves and changes.
And so, eventually, I met a friend who literally saved my sanity. God has a way of sending people our way when we most need them. It is Him working through them.
Life can be wonderful depending on how you look at things. Plenty of people have told me, “You just don’t understand. You’ve never had (fill in the blank) happen to you! Then you’d know–it’s not as easy as you think to be happy-go-lucky when you’re going through what I’m going through!”
And I have thought that more than once myself when things were bad for me and I thought nobody understood. It can be depressing when you think that the rest of your life is going to be just like the bad situation you are in. But it won’t be. That’s not just me talking positive–that’s the way it is for everybody. Life changes–it’s a fact. You can choose to be positive about it or you can be depressed about it. It’s your choice–which would you rather be?
So here it is, the best advice I know for getting through the rough times:
- Know that the light at the end of the tunnel is there, whether you can see it or not. Believe it–it’s there.
- Know that life is not stagnant. It constantly moves and changes. Things will not stay the same for you, especially if you move in positive ways to change things for yourself.
- You are responsible for the way you think. Outer circumstances may cause us to feel a certain way, but the way you choose to think about them is your deal. So choose to think about that light at the end of the tunnel, no matter what your circumstances are.
Does this mean you’ll never, ever be sad, frustrated, or feel grief? No, these feelings come up in everybody’s life. But you’ll get back to being at peace sooner if you are not dwelling on the things that cause these emotions. And peace is so much better than turmoil and drama!
I want to write another post soon to tell you about my friend Tracy, who helped me overcome a lot of the obstacles and feelings that go along with losing one’s sight. Really, it’s an interesting story about a remarkable and crazy lady!
Peace be with all of you during this holiday season, and all through the rest of the year as well!