Once again yesterday, I got a lesson from my son, who’s been practicing ballroom dance in his man-cave.
So my eye doctor said I wasn’t crying enough. Actually he said I had “chronic dry eyes,” which he attributed to living in a place with zero humidity and temperatures up to 120 degrees. Dry heat, my Aunt Fannie. The surface of the sun has dry heat, too; you don’t see astronauts frolicking around up there. The sun doesn’t rise in Phoenix during the summer; it heaves itself over the horizon like a steroid-enhanced brute from the World Wrestling Federation, beats the crap out of the landscape for 15 hours, then grumbles off to the big Locker Room in the Western Sky to plan the next day’s assault.
Even living here, I had to marvel that my eyes were too dry, because I remember entire decades—you may have had some yourself—when I wondered how it was possible for my eyeball-related ducts to create so many tears. I still tell people what I once told myself: when you have a great loss or sorrow, it’s like facing a lake of tears, and you have to let them all flow through your eyes before you’re finished grieving. Well, it appears all my former weeping (my former husband, bless him, used to call me “Puddles,”) was actually great for my eyes. When I was pregnant with my son and knew he had Down syndrome, I recall walking through Harvard Yard and noticing that with my eyes full of unshed tears, things did seem sharper and clearer.
I’m sure my time to cry will come again, but for the past several years, my eyes have been unusually dry, to the point where, as I said, it became a medical problem. I left the optometrist’s office clutching a prescription for eye drops and begging The Force to please please fix my eyes so I can continue to see. Here’s the thing: lately when I pray for something, I tend to get something even better. When I went back to the eye doctor, he not only said my eyes were healthy, but mentioned I was a good candidate for laser surgery to correct my vision.
Now, I’ve worn Coke-bottle glasses since second grade. There hasn’t been a day in living memory that I haven’t stumbled around in the morning, pawing for my glasses and feeling vulnerable to being attacked by bears, since I wouldn’t see them coming until they were approximately four inches away. That is, there wasn’t such a day until yesterday, when I woke up with 20/15 vision—in other words, better than normal.
I am astonished. Completely amazed. It’s as if Jesus stopped by (or Moses or Buddha—pick your miracle-worker) in a set of optometrist’s scrubs. I can’t stop staring at this beautiful, beautiful world.
All of this is making me think about people who have normal vision their whole lives. Do they wake up stunned and celebratory about the gift of eyesight, as I believe I will for years to come? It’s also me consider all my other “normal” gifts: arms, legs, ears, kidneys, lungs, toenails…. I’ve spent plenty of time focusing on my body’s flaws (do you do the same with yours?). The time has come to sing halleluiahs about the miraculous things that are right with my physical form (try it!). The gratitude brings tears to my eyes—which, it turns out, is really good for them.