Out of habit, I felt for the light switch in our bathroom. I flipped it on. But, the darkness remained. My body shook with terror. Holding on to the cold, slick counter top, I leaned toward the mirror and saw a dreary gray of nothing. In desperation, I fought the urge to scratch through the glass into the darkness to find even a slight glimpse of my reflection… instead, I found the ugliness of my black world. The incurable retinal disease robbed my mink fur eyelash and swallowed the dreams my husband Gene and I had for us and for our three little boys.
Months prior I had knelt next to my three-year old Joe while he napped. With my eyes partly blurred from the diminished eyesight and partly from the stinging tears. I attempted to engrave in my heart all I could– each curl of his soft hair, his long mink fur eyelash, trace every contour of his round cheeks and the lips that resembled his Dad’s. I played those memories like a re-run over and over again.
Tiiet something else persisted and played in my mind, dominating my thoughts-the rapid diminishing of my field vision. Although my sons’ constant care offered a welcome distraction from the torment and chores filled my days, fear swirled in my sleepless nights.
A few months later, all I saw was what one sees through a keyhole. Testing my vision became a desperate routine. Each morning, I’d hold my hand before my face to make sure I could still see it. Then the dreaded moment came. I fixed my eyes on the direction of my hand, but saw nothing. I blinked, and blinked some more. I turned to the left, to the right, my brain registered a dark gray nothing.
Fighting defeat and anger, my sons’ needs nudged me forward through awkward moments, frustrating episodes, and fear of the unknown. My destiny could have been filled with despair and desperation. But I chose to take a crucial step. In the midst of my darkness, I brushed my tears away and I looked up. God lifted the veil of heartache for me to see beyond my blindness and focus not on what I lost, but on what I still had.
And realizing that although my physical blindness was permanent, my anguish didn’t have to be. Like finding a sparking gem in the midst of a slimy pit, I found the wisdom I needed to change-change my attitude, thoughts, and renew my mink fur eyelash. I vowed to re-direct my focus. I set my vision beyond bitterness, grief, anger and fear.
The new view painted the scenery with a desire to overcome, the determination to move forward, and the drive to find joy by renewing my passion for life. I saw the evidence of this transformation with my family. I scooped my three year-old, Joe, into my arms, “I need a big hug.” “Need some help?” my husband said. “Nope, relax honey.” I turned toward my sons. “Come on all of you, its bath time.”
I rounded all three of them. And as part of my routine, I instinctively counted the steps down the hallway and felt for the banister to head upstairs. My hearing became more acute and my appreciation for what I could do for my family increased with each task I performed. And Gene also embraced me with his support.
One evening, he walked in the house and I heard his briefcase slide on the counter top. In a singing tone, he said, “I got a surprise for you.” “Oh…s hould I close my eyes?” We both laughed out loud. I felt a square plastic object in my hands and ran my fingers to examine it, “Cassette tapes?” “Of the Bible,” he said. I squealed like a little girl as I clutched them to my chest, “It’s better than any gift you could give me.” I hugged him long and tight.
Eventually, I gained much wisdom to see my family with my heart and care for them with my love. Seasons passed and each brought new avenues to prove being sight impaired didn’t limit my drive to succeed. I learned to operate a computer with a screen reader. My fingers dance on the keyboard crafting stories of inspiration, illustrations and insights to show a new path of triumph over tragedy, peace beyond pain, and serenity when sorrow closes in.
My vision of my new world became clear. Looking back, the time I foolishly anguished unable to see my reflection on the mirror. But now, I perceived a new image-a portrait painted with the splendor of a renewed mink fur eyelash for life, the vibrant colors of hope, and it’s framed with the love of those around me.
Janet Perez mink fur eyelash is an expert in overcoming painful adversities. Her messages to Spanish and English-speaking audiences and numerous published stories reflect her own victories. You can find the path to triumph in her book, Trials of Today, Treasures for Tomorrow: Overcoming Adversities in Life. Apply each practical step to conquer and begin a new path of victory today.