I’m 27 years old, I have a college education, I’ve been raising a daughter who sees a dozen vision specialists every year, and I JUST NOW learned how to spell the word “ophthalmologist.” There is an extra “h” in there, and an “l.” For the longest time I could remember one superfluous letter, but two was too much. NO MORE! I must be growing up.
This morning Madeline had her yearly check-up, and today was the first time I didn’t go with her. There were lots of reasons, including Sam’s schedule, writing work, rush hour in ATL, and more. It was the best of all our options, but there have been lots of Mom-tears over the last 48 hours.
I got up at 5:20.
I’m sorry, did that not resonate with you?
I GOT UP AT 5:20. That is how much I love my child.
Madeline was in remarkably good spirits considering I normally have to lure her out of her bed with breakfast foods. A trail of little zucchini muffins all the way from her bedside into the living room, like Hansel and Gretel. Madeline does a lot of things well; waking up is not one of them.
I put her in her Light Up The Darkness shirt, because it brought me joy. It brought Madeline joy too, until she got in the car and realized that her shirt did not actually light up the darkness.
Dan put me on speakerphone when the doctor came in, and I went crazy-mom. I asked every question that Dan had already asked and gave him way too much information/opinion/commentary about the size, shape, color, distance, contrast, and velocity of every single object Madeline appeared to have noticed in the last 365 days.
I birthed her; such is my right.
This was the first check up where Madeline was verbal enough and cooperative enough to give us some solid information. As in, “Yes I can see that letter.” This was the first check up where they were able to check each eye individually. It was the first check-up without me. The first check-up that we did not have to man-handle her little head into that giant machine with the chin-rest. Big day.
Madeline was chipper, enthusiastic, vocal, and cooperative. She is the best.
Her greatest disappointment of the day was not the early rising, the drive, or even the eye drops; it was that her class was learning about spiders today, as this is “creepy crawly insect” week at school, and she had to miss it. She requested that I go to the library and get “a really good book about spiders” while she was at her appointment. I will oblige. Because I love my child.
Here are some quick thoughts about vision loss today:
1. It’s okay with me if Madeline never sees any better than she can right now. That’s called peace, and it’s amazing.
2. Madeline continues to blow everyone’s socks off with how well she uses her functional vision. No vision teacher or doctor has ever interacted with her and not left astounded.
3. I wish that you could know how it feels for me to sing the words to Amazing Grace. I wish that you could feel the anguish and joy of “was blind but now I see.” Or to read Psalm 139: “The night will shine like the day for darkness is as light to You.” Or 1 Peter 2:9: “…That you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” Or any one of the hundred other references in scripture to our lost-in-the-sin-sick-darkness and to God’s bright and morning star, light-of-the-worldness.
Everybody can experience God’s bright rescue – Dan and I don’t have any advantage in that department. You certainly don’t need a child with vision loss to feel the deep, deep darkness in your soul or to see it in the world.
But - we do have the great privilege of seeing blindness, literally, every day. We get to see how it affects everything. We understand the fullness of joy we would experience if our daughter’s vision were completely restored – if she could see like we can see; we can access that emotion easily. I was thinking about this just the other day, about how badly I want to be there when Madeline sees, fully, for the first time. I want to watch her face. That thought/emotion is never far beneath the surface.
Because of our understanding of literal blindness, we are able to translate that insight and emotion to spiritual blindness. We can apply what we know (feelings of grief, loss, anger, injustice, hopelessness, desperation, dependence, need for healing) to our own spiritual condition. Like copy/paste. When God says that our eyes are blinded by sin and mortal-humanness, that we live in darkness – we are fortunate enough to understand the level of lostness and need that He’s getting at. I get what what happen if Madeline wandered out of the yard; I have to push the thought out of my mind often because the fear is not healthy. It would be dangerous for any child, but magnified for my darling. She could not see roads, cars, ditches or ant hills. Unlike most school-age children, she could not find her way home.
Oh, we understand fully, the depth and desperation of our need.
And therefore, we are able to understand the sweetness of The Light.
This is why I cannot read a single verse or sing a single stanza about God opening the eyes of the blind, or delivering us from darkness to light, without crying. I never have to pause and imagine what that would feel like – I already know.
The Light feels like – like joy so full it makes your ribs ache. Like a thousand tongues to sing a thousand praises would never be enough. Like body-rocking-sobs. Like relief so big that your knees give out and you fall on your face because you can’t stand up under the goodness of it.
It feels like glory.
It feels like salvation- because that’s exactly what it is.
“You are a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness and into his marvelous light…once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind, but now I see.”