You may have noticed my absence over the last several months. From early October until recently, my primary focus has been on receiving the gift of new vision. Due to a hereditary, degenerative corneal disease diagnosed several years ago, my vision was undergoing changes that, left unchecked, would lead to functional blindness. Luckily the condition is completely reversible via replacement of my diseased tissue with healthy tissue from cadavers. On a crisp, clear day (a day on which I skipped a TWOG meeting to go hiking) in late September amid the peaks seen from the Skyline Divide, the knowing came. The time for surgery was now. In order to prepare to receive this incredible gift and to give myself time to adjust to new ways of seeing, I took a leave from my responsibilities as part of the TWOG.
Literally within minutes of scheduling dates for my eye surgeries a dear friend, who had been living with cancer for nearly 20 years, phoned to say her time had come. A couple years earlier we had committed to adopting her adorable little dog, Cody, if he were to survive her. In a memorable 17 days in October I received a new daughter-in-law, a dog (my first ever) and a new cornea in my left eye. How differently I saw the world.
For November and December there was only a right lens in my eye glasses. It was impossible to provide correction for the ever changing vision in my left eye as it healed, but my right eye was strong and after the first week I was able to see well enough to get around on my own. Recovery from my second surgery was made more challenging because of some unrelated eye abnormalities. Additionally, unrelated to the corneal disease, developing cataracts were removed and intraocular lenses were implanted. Because my distance vision has been substantially improved, I am now unable to read without magnification. So like the complex and interrelated issues we face on the planet at this time. No one thing can be changed without impacting several others. Through the season of darkness I’ve sought stillness and prayed for vision.
The corneal tissue in both of my eyes was donated by men whose lives were shortened by substance use and/or addiction. Like my cornea donors the unhealthy choices we are making have us on a course to an untimely demise. What would the world look like if we began changing those choices now? What if we wanted less and gave more? What if we saw the things our neighbors were doing right, instead of what they are doing wrong? What if everyone lived next door to someone they knew they could count on, no matter what? What if we shared stories of our small successes with pride? What if we valued self-care and service equally? What if instead of trying to change everything, we focused only on one doable thing? How would the world look different? What is our vision for the future?