My companion for life sees angels; she believes in miracles. And there was once a time when she saw little else.
Detached retinas in both eyes had afflicted her five times over the last twenty years. During one episode we remained in our home from September through May the following year, Sarah Lee positioned with her head on the dining room table, listening to TV. I had my own problems during this time and didn’t care if we left the house or not. The joke? one’s cripple, the other’s blind.
By August 20011 Sarah could see well enough to drive, but her vision was cloudy and dark; she’d lost color vision and could barely read road signs; and she was no longer able to do needlework at which she is an consummate artist. Sarah faced this dilemma: no one would dare operate on her condition until she went blind. Her retina was not detached; nor were there cataracts. She possessed in her right eye a bubble, which also impaired vision in the left eye. And the bubble was growing larger and darker.
A driver’s test in the fall filled us with dread. We had become captives of our destiny, living simply and un-hopefully, day by day. Sarah still believed in angels.
Then of all the places in the world for an earthquake to strike, the earth opened up its bowels 40 miles from my home near Richmond, Virginia, rocked D.C., and shook even Boston. That wasn’t all it shook.
The quake came in the middle of the afternoon during the last week of August. Its violent shaking rolled my better half, napping on the living room couch, clear over onto the floor. I was trying to crop a photo in my work area already on the floor. The rumbling of the world lasted half a minute, then shimmered for a good long while, and I was thinking, What the hell!—are we gonna do the rumba? or get some work done? or what?
The following weekend a hurricane knocked power off for days. Sunday it was so hot in the house, we drove up to Mineral, which was the epicenter of the earthquake, and saw some broken chimneys on two-hundred-year-old homes and a cordoned-off, apparently ruined school. Driving back through Richmond we encountered many power lines still weighed down by huge trees, the limbs sometimes blocking the road. And Sarah Lee was reading street sings with ease. It occurred to me that we had not gone on a ride such as this for a long time. The trees and downed power lines she saw perfectly.
“I don’t believe it either,” she said. “For the first two days, after being rolled over onto the floor, I felt woozy, an odd kind of wooziness; going to the grocery store was like entering the twilight zone. But I could read prices, anything at all that was printed. I wanted to wait a few days to see if I were dreaming. That’s why I haven’t mentioned it.”
She saw the eye doctor in September, who in his stunned surprise, blurted, “The bubble is completely gone!”
A year has passed and it is still gone. If this is a dream, it is a good dream. “A miracle” the doctor had said.
To me the world is totally incomprehensible.
An angel met that earthquake, whispering with wings over Sarah Lee, tumbled from her couch, blessing her with a kiss, inexplicably restoring her to near perfect vision.