I've been quite teary all week. On Tuesday I came across a library reference to a paper written by an old friend of the family about 7 years ago. This man died about two years ago. Suddenly, I felt flooded with sorrow because I couldn't just approach him and talk to him about my thesis, when I knew him, i had no reason to talk to him about Icelandic Sagas, but of course now, we could have had some very interesting discussions.
Don't worry, I am getting to the point of this blog post, I'm just tired, I've been awake since 4am.
Last night I became overwhelmed with grief. Like a surge of underground water finding a gap in the earth's crust to erupt from, the tears came from seemingly nowhere.
You see, I started using my cane all the time last week. I've had the cane for a few months now, but have only used it in unfamiliar places or at night because it really takes a lot of energy to use it. It's not heavy or anything like, I just am very, very aware of how I am perceived when I use it. I can see people veering out of the way to avoid 'the blind lady'. I loathe drawing attention to my vision impairment.
I've gotten by without the cane until very recently.
One of the first days I used it, the Grumpy Old Man and I had a meeting at the high school, and when I took out the cane the GOM asked if I was using it 'to gain sympathy'. I nearly hit him with the cane at that point.
You see, that is what I think people might think about me using it. Especially people, like the GOM who have known me a very long time and seen my get around without the cane. They might think I'm using a cane now to draw attention to myself, or to garner sympathy or for a whole range of reasons which have nothing to do with the real reason I'm using a cane now.
I'm using a cane because I'm going blind.
Just recently, I seem to be losing sight rapidly.
All my life, I've been near sighted, but I've had a certain range within which I could see things quite clearly. I could see details if I could get close enough to them.
That is gone.
It feels like it has gone in the past month.
I realised a few days ago that I can't see anything clearly now, I can't get my eyes to focus at all.
This image kind of shows where my vision has gone from and to in the past month (obviously, I don't wear glasses).
Or like this. You see I can see enough to navigate. I use the can mostly to make sure I don't trip on changing surface heights because I don't have stereoscopic vision and so I don't see things in 3D. I have always relied on relatively clear short range vision to determine edges of steps or level changes in front of my feet. My short range vision is no longer sharp enough to help me with this.
I've known this would happen for decades now, and so I thought I was fine with it. But I guess that was when it was some time in the undetermined future. Now that the deterioration has begun, it seems to be happening so quickly and I just can't keep up emotionally. Last night I realised I won't see the boys grow up. I'll be there, of course, and I can't help but this of my friend Julia who faces a much, much tougher reality in this regard. But, I still feel grief.
You see when the boys were little, I used to consciously spend time looking at them while they slept, absorbing every detail, because I knew one day I wouldn't be able to see the details. Years on from then, I struggle to recall those details. What if I forget what the boys looked like.
What if my last images of Erik are off a pimply faced teen who often has a characteristic teen poker face? At least with Erik, and Lukas, I have some idea of what they will look like as grown men. Bryn is a bit harder to imagine, and Ari is impossible to imagine. I won't get to see those faces. And the Grumpy Old Man, I won't see him grow old (I'm not sure he'd be upset by that thought, really, but for me it is upsetting).
I'm such a visual person.
I see to remember. I can remember what I've read because I saw it, I can locate things I've read, because I can see where they were on the page in my mind's eye. I'm hopeless at retaining things I've heard. My auditory memory is pretty rubbish. How am I going to learn stuff if I can't see it?
So, last night I felt overwhelmed with grief.
I also felt very alone with this. I don't know anyone who has been through this. I used to know people but those friendships are gone by the wayside now. So, no one I know gets it. I feel like I'm leaving this world and entering another in which no one I know can enter. I have to do this by myself.