Apparently, yesterday was World Sight Day. Better late than never right?
It’s been about 4 months since my husband Tim got his white cane and about 2 years since his official diagnosis of Retinitis Pigmentosa.
Last year I wrote a post called How He Sees and listed some ways that people can be most helpful in interacting with someone with low vision. Since then, I haven’t posted much personally, mostly because life is busy but also because it is challenging to form words to describe our journey.
The day that Tim got his white cane was a sad day for me, perhaps selfishly. A woman from the Department of the Blind had come over to our house and shown him how to use it; she herself was someone with low vision and gave him tips on various obstacles he might face. She put little plastic buttons on our oven so that Tim could feel how to turn it on and off. She told him how best to be led by someone in a crowded restaurant, and how to raise his stick straight so that those passing by wouldn’t trip over it. She told him how to apply for Orca’s disability bus card that would allow to him ride the bus for a straight $1 fare.
I was thankful for her. She understood his world. Where we saw difficulty, she saw ability.
But it was a painful reminder to me of what we had lost and now in my memory, I mentally thought of our life “before the cane” and “after the cane”.
When the kids came home from school, we showed the cane to them, gushed about how cool it was, and took a picture together in attempt to “celebrate” this new addition to our family.
But inside, I was heartbroken.
The first day he used the cane, it was at the Bellevue Square mall.
He told me later with laughter that old grandmas would hold the door open for him and it was like the Red Sea parting when he went through a crowd. Before this, he would often bump into people and receive dirty looks or walk extra slow and with hesitation.
I was happy for him. What a huge shift from feeling lost to being in control.
But still, even writing this, I cry. Because I am still mourning the loss. I see the stares of people and kids whispering. I wish Tim could see the girls play soccer and cheer when they make a great pass. I am envious of dads who can drive their kids around by themselves or easily shoot hoops with them. I get sad when there is something achingly beautiful like a sunset and he can’t enjoy it. I worry about life 10 years from now. I am stressed at the responsibility of being the ‘seeing’ spouse and then feel guilty for being stressed. There are days when I can spiral into a pit of self-pity or sadness over things lost. Those are hard days. I know Tim has them too.
But I also cry because God is still good. He is sanctifying us through this process. There is a new world that we are part of that gives us a deeper compassion for others who have a differing ability. I see people, strangers, being kind and helpful when they see his white cane. I see my kids point out others with white canes and joyfully say “hey look, he’s just like daddy!” and how their hearts are being shaped to care for others. I see Isaiah play with the cane as a toy, not as something to fear or gawk at, and it brings me joy. I see Tim faithfully pick up the girls from school and laughing off the side comments he hears from curious kids. I see how God is teaching me that marriage is not about me and to serve is greater than being served.
I am thankful that his sight was lost later in life and not before his time at seminary where he would need to read and write so many papers. I am thankful that he still planted The Well Community Church even as his eyesight declined and things were uncertain. I am thankful that although he cannot clearly make out the images I take with my camera, he is still my biggest cheerleader and tells me I’m doing a great job. I am thankful of news that groundbreaking gene therapies to cure blindness are being discovered and new advances in technology are being made everyday.
I am grateful.
On a day like World Sight Day, I want to see all the things. All the good. All the lovely. All the beauty.
I choose to see them as does Tim, and together we fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.
We stumble, we get weary, we complain.
We get up, we help each other, we run.
This was life “before the cane” and it is life “after the cane”, and we are thankful.
To those who persevered through this exhaustingly long post, I want to encourage you – that whatever loss or hardship you may be going through, don’t lose heart.
See the good, see the gain – if your eyes fail you, still keep running. We are running too.
[image of Tim at the top of the Space Needle. He cannot see the view but still enjoying his time.]
The gloomy October weather has begun! These days I work at my desk snuggled up with a huge blanket and a hot cup of tea…but here’s a look at a recent sunny session with this gorgeous family of three…lots of hugs and love between them and I loved that we got the last bits of summer sun in September.