The sing-song of chimes startled me awake. I rolled over, attempting to focus on the neon numbers shining from my iPod player. 3:15am. Ouch. Pulling myself out of bed, I walked over to my desk, and opened my laptop, wanting to check a couple of emails before I left for work. The computer shined to life, and as I stared at the screen, the words remained blurry. I blinked. I blinked again. Then a third time and a fourth. Even as I squinted, the screen remained filled with only fuzzy strings of letters. I rubbed my eyes. Not working.
My imagination began to tell stories. It creatively made up what the next couple of hours would be like. I would call crew scheduling and tell them that I couldn’t fly because I was unable to see. I would say that I can’t read. I would tell them I can’t drive to work.
Yesterday I could see, but what if, now, and forever on, my ability to interpret the world visually, is never the same? Fear. Worry. Alarm. It’s normal in the morning to have to blink away the blur of sleep, or snag sleepys out of the corner of your eyes, but vision readjusts quickly. For some reason, mine refused.
I decided that the best solution would be to continue to get ready for work. Maybe my sight would decide to cooperate before, or at least by the time, I walked out the door. It did, thankfully, and my day continued just as the days before had, and just as I trusted the days after would, with the ability to appreciate the reds and pinks of a sunrise, reading words on a page, and seeing the world, clearly.
But, what would it have been like had my vision just…left? Gone? Something that I trust to always be part of me, that grants me the ability to live my lifestyle, to suddenly; unexpectedly; disappear? How would I handle that? That’s how it was for Sybil, the women that I rent a room from. Seven years ago, she awoke with blurry vision, that progressively became worse over the course of a week. Although, now, still very independent, she cannot see details, and is considered legally blind. She’s not bitter. Her humor, warmth, and genuine appreciation for life, leave no room for regretting and negativity, but I know it frustrates her at times.
“It’s not about being strong or brave Kara,” she tells me. “It’s about making a decision to face what you must, Choosing not to lay in bed all day, although, there are many days that you may want to do that. That’s ok, but you have to also choose to face the day, with the belief that it will work out.”
Because I don’t personally live with a disability, I don’t often take a moment to think what it might be like to navigate through life in a wheelchair, or without being able to see, or to hear. When on trips where there are a large number of passengers that need wheelchair assistance, instead of applauding these individuals for traveling inspite of, I’ll admit that I have made politically incorrect jokes to other crew members that, “We’ve apparently boarded the entire geriatric ward.”
But honestly, who I am to say these things? I’ve been blessed with a fairly good start in life. I hold a college degree. I have full time job. Walking, biking, running, tennis, or volleyball, my body doesn’t restrict me. There aren’t very many, if any, limitations in my life. Whether it be with movement, sight, hearing, or thought (although, I do claim blondeness fairly often), I am mostly able to do the things that I want.
And I don’t know why my eyes refused to see that morning, or actually my brain (It’s actually your brain that “sees,” your eyes just take in the visual array. I recommend reading the book, Crashing Through. GREAT read). I think that my brain was rebelling due to the time of o’dark fifteen.
Not having clear vision for a just a half-hour was enough to remind of the blessings and bliss of my life. I need reminders of the what I take for granted at times, gifting perspective and encouraging gratitude.
If you have, or know someone with a disability, here is a website of information for traveling.
If you would like to volunteer your time to help someone with a disability, check out this site.