Advanced pterygia spread across the delicate whites of my eyes. They grew slowly and I had grown used to them. Non cancerous nuisances. Late at night or after a day in the sun I lived with one eye shut at a time, eye drops in my bag, red eyes always.
The surgeon removed the growths, applied a chemical wash to burn off any stubborn remains, and then patched my eyes with amniotic stem cells . Life cells, mother-made, stitched into place.
I needed 24 hour care. I doubted it when I planned for it, but when I woke, stitched and disoriented, I was unable to use my eyes except in pained blinks. I needed help and I knew it.
My friends and family made my home a sanctuary of showing up, reading, music, bathing, food and laughter. I couldn’t see so I pulled them close. I smelled them. I touched my children, I held them. I held my friends, they held me. The people I loved confessed things to me, I broke open, they worried over me, they cared. I touched the hands of their husbands and their kids. I ate, dressed, and slept with a blindfold. I moved slowly, fondling my way through my home, and around my bed for ice.
I thought I would be “back” after a long weekend but that wasn't so. I lay healing, laughing, sobbing, and silent for two weeks. The timing was everything. I was in the early stages of my divorce. I was having a moment and my body held me still enough to heal. Plans were made, schedules adjusted, my people rallied around.
Years of guilt leave their mark. I had always thought things would get better. I thought I would be better, follow the script, ignore, forgive, try, and repent. I worked my way through my mess with therapy, change, prayer, screaming, hiding, Barbie, perfectionism, cleanliness and godliness. I thought having kids would change things. I killed us with kindness and nicety. I struggled. I lied to myself. I didn’t want to see, so I shadowed my knowing body and it listened, enlisted cells to multiply over my eyes. To cover me. Atrophy, blindness. The body listens.
This is not a metaphor and neither is my story. It’s a truth hard told. The body and spirit are the soul of woman. The body is a form of sinew and genealogy. The memory of triumph and trauma are written on spirit and body. The soul animates the form.
We are what we eat, we digest what we see, we hear who we are, we taste the flavors of the land, we feel our relationship to animal, flower, and flesh. We are carried by a network of ancestral memory, organized systems, and instincts that cope and fail and fling us against our blindness hoping to shake us new. The body speaks.
In the state of dis-ease we need ceremony, community, and procedure to let go. We need to learn something new. I never knew mother love or holy home until I got my “new eyes”. I didn’t know my body before, the flow of sensed energy, or our reliance of sister supporting sister. I didn’t know that water in my deep tub, taken in through sore-sighted peeks, could speak calm blue. I didn’t know that behind my closed eyes was a world that grounded me and that within a terrifying dark is support and sight. But I know now. I see it.