I knew there was something different about him the first time I met him. The bar was darkly lit and from where he sat a halo of light surrounded his head making it difficult to see the details of his face. It wasn’t until a few more Friday Night Happy Hour celebrations in the same dark bar, that I realized that one of his eyes wasn’t “normal”. As we got to know each other the story emerged.
When he was a young boy, he and his brother were playing “swords”. Their mother, listening from the kitchen, warned them to be careful; “Stop that before someone puts an eye out.”
Fateful words. Haunting really.
With one swift jab, Pete’s left eye would be damaged beyond repair.
He lived his life like a normal boy – just only with sight in one eye. It never stopped him from doing anything his friends did. I can only imagine it might have taken him longer to make those friends; how the staring and taunting by too honest children would have made him feel.
But he grew up. His mother taught him confidence and never treated him differently. He married; became a skilled woodworker; a world traveler; a loyal friend; a friend who is outgoing and fun. He makes friends easily. But he always has to live with the fact that people who don’t know him well and don’t know his story yet will look at his face, first with a nervous glance and try not to stare in to that dark, dead eye.
Pressure began to build behind the eye a year ago. He’d get awful, debilitating headaches. A trip to an eye specialist diagnosed glaucoma and fluid problems and warned it would only get worse.
So it was with nervous excitement that he prepared for the surgery to remove the eye and prepare for a glass prosthetic. It was supposed to be a simple procedure and within a few weeks he dreamed his life would be dramatically different. No more pain. No more stares and awkward questions.
The operation went as planned and he wore his pirate’s patch with pride and offered to show us what was behind it.
Um. Nope. Thanks though!
But the healing didn’t happen as everyone had hoped. It took months of pain and disappointing check ups, but it healed. Slowly. And the day finally came, 4 months delayed, but Pete finally got his new eye!
I am so excited to finally see him and eagerly anticipate forgetting which eye is the bad one. But I will always cringe when I see my boys pick up a stick to play “swords”.
Congrats. PG! We’re so happy for you!