“It’ll be easy for you to cheat on me when we’re older and I’m blind,” I said to Kristy at dinner.
She agreed. “You’ll just be sitting there on the porch, talking, and you won’t even notice that I’m gone. You just like the sound of your own voice.”
“Well, I’ll probably hear the car door shut, but I won’t know it’s you. Just don’t stay out too long. I’ll need help to get back inside.”
At this point, my grandmother intervened. “Don’t talk like that, you two! You’re upsetting me.”
“I’m just kidding, Grandma. I’d never cheat on Andrew,” Kristy said quickly.
“No, I don’t care about that.” [Editor’s Note: What?!?!] “Don’t say he’s going to go blind. That hurts me to think it.”
“But it’s true, Grandma. I will be blind some day.”
“No! You won’t. You’ll always be able to see a little.”
“I don’t know what doctors you’ve talked to, but the specialists at Hopkins said they have no idea what’s going to happen. I might stay close to where I am now, or I might not be able to see anything. It could end up that way.”
Kristy decided to help Grandma. “Total blindness isn’t likely. You’ll probably see shadows and things.”
This is not particularly comforting. I suppose it’s better to see shadows than to sit in total darkness. But what sort of life is that, particularly for someone whose two major pastimes are movies and books.
Grandma tried to be optimistic. “Your great-grandmother didn’t go totally blind. Neither did my brother, Darwin. They had terrible eyes. I’m sure you get your bad eyes from my side.”
“I guess if they didn’t–”
“Now, my grandpap Rosenberger was totally blind. He couldn’t see a thing.”
So what would it mean to see a series of light and shadows? For starters, it’s going to be difficult to play charades. And I suppose I’ll have a guide dog by then. But it’s a matter of degrees, each day getting a little worse–shadow creeping in, fog around the edges. It’s hard to be overly cheerful with that in mind, but it’s not impossible.
Beethoven, perhaps the greatest composer in all Europe, lost his hearing slowly and still managed to write the glorious Ninth. Maybe there’s hope yet.