I have found a publisher who wants my story of going blind. This piece was written earlier in the year, but I think I might include it.
I wake every morning with a terrible feeling in my stomach. I wake to the remembrance that I am blind. I see the light coming through the window, but nothing else. The light does not illuminate anything for me. I know that this is how it is going to be for the rest of the day – and for every day from here on in. I tussle with a sense almost of disbelief and then a painful resignation to the fact. There is nothing I can do. The day stretches out in front of me. What can I do with all those hours ahead of me in which I see only a grey mist obliterating everything for me?
As I sit up in bed I am painfully aware that no one can understand my plight. That I am alone. People have expectations of me or their own ideas of what this might be like. They have their own ideas of how I should feel or tackle this. But no one can contemplate the utter blackness that I feel inside. The depression. The hopelessness. The despair. And in a way neither can I. I think that maybe it could be different. But it can’t. I am bewildered. Confused. I keep blinking, thinking that if I blink enough, I will start to see something. But I don’t.
It is a Spring day. A beautiful Spring day, of which I will see nothing. My husband tells me that the trees are all in blossom, sportng different beautiful shades – red, pink, yellow, white. The daffodils are blooming. The forsythia at our front door is am amazing bright yellow. The willow teee in our garden is coming into leaf. It is my favourite time of year – and I can see nothing of it. The only colour I can see is grey.
I experience a sudden stab of deep sadness, along with a deep aching and longing. I keep my feelings under wraps. I have cried. Oh yes I have cried. Many many tears. But to what avail? Nothing will change, and you can’t cry for ever, I am required to “accept it,” to “come to terns with it.” Whatever do those things mean anyway? Whatever they mean, I know that I fall far short of the mark.
I think back to that beautiful Spring day eight years ago – a day just like this – when all this began. On that day too, the trees were blossoming and sporting the most beautiful colours. Flowers were blooming on the roadside and in people’s gardens, and everything was coming to life again after the long hard winter. Yet this was the day on which I was told that I may be dying. A dark, dark day. I was in a dingy hospital room with the blinds pulled down so that the warm sun could not get to me. At that point I did not know that in fact I would survive the cancer that was raging like wildfire in my body, but that my days would become for ever grey. I did not envisage what I have got now.
For most blind people, there is a way of living. A way of being. Many were born blind, or went blind when they were very young. They have grown up being blind. Some have been to Blind Schools. They have learned how to live blind, in a largely sighted world. They appear to be happy. They can do the things that I cannot do. And I guess that most people see this and think that it is the same for all blind people. They manage somehow, and therefore I should too. This in itself becomes a pressure to me. As I think of it my anger rises within me, along with my sense of hopelessness. Maybe I can never be accepted in this world, as I am. I will have to change. Hide my pain, cease crying. . Smile for the camera of the world. But inside, I rebel against this. I can only be me. And yet, I feel the need to hide the real me. The Lorraine who grieves. The Lorraine who hurts. Slowly, slowly, as each day goes by, I withdraw more and more into myself. Into my world of isolation. A world that no one else can reach into, and nor would they want to. Real life awaits them, and they leave me behind. And so I lie on my bed, staring into the grey mist, feeling empty. Feeling paralysed.
I reach my hand out to the chest at the side of my bed. I am feeling for the cold drink that is there. Lemonade. I drink a lot of that nowadays. It has to be ice cold, and fizzy. The flat stuff will not do. It cannot pass muster. No, it has to be fizzy, so that I can actually feel it. I have to have that sensation in my mouth and throat – a sensation of aliveness. For in fact I have little or no sensation in my hands. And that goes for my face, legs and feet too. But with no real sensation in my hands, and no eyesight, I knock my drink onto the floor. The carpet at the side of my bed is soaked yet again. I am past crying about it. What is the point? But the crying is still deep within me. Just as it is when I look at the light coming through the window and know that I will see nothing of this day.
I remember, way back at the beginning, when I had just gone into remission from the cancer, seeing a blind Gospel singer on the television. She was playing the piano in a most amazing way, and singing in that incredible way that only accomplished Gospel singers have. To this day I do not understand what happened, but something inside me said,
“You are going to be blind too, like this woman.” I have no idea to this day where that voice or that knowledge came from. Yes, my sight was definitely not what it used to be, but certainly no one had any idea that I was going blind. The haematologist said that the drugs I had been given could make your eyesight deteriorate a little, but that I just needed some new glasses. He told me to see an optician. I was comforted by that, and thought no more of it. However, when the optician finally saw me I knew, deep inside me that something was wrong. And I had had those words come to me whilst watching the blind Gospel singer. Despite that though, I felt a kind of dread. It was proved to be well founded.
My sight has only gone gradually. At first I viewed it as a challenge. In a way I relished the idea of meeting that challenge, and did not become depressed or distressed. My distress was more at the way in which people treated me. Being unable to see them, I failed to respond to them when they waved and smiled at me. I became known as standoffish and snobbish. In fact, those things were said to my face one day. I was attacked verbally for my misdoings! I realised then that being blind was no picnic, and that relationships with people were going to be affected. On many occasions I sat around a table with people who knew I was blind, and not one of them addressed me by name so that I knew they were talking to me, in fact, actually they avoided talking to me. Their lives were so different to mine that what indeed could they talk to me about anyway. I was by this time in a wheelchair as well, unable to walk. I must have seemed like something from outer space to those people.