When I was a kid, I was among the healthy bunch. Yes, I’d get a few colds here or there, and I did enjoy my fair share of pink bubblegum antibiotics, but all-in-all, I kept a clean bill of health. While that should be something worth celebrating, call me crazy, but I did always have a tinge of jealousy when a classmate would show up wearing a cast. I guess I never got close enough to smell it after a few weeks or was around when they would get that itch that they couldn’t scratch, because to me I was fascinated by the fact that they had a semi-permanent fixture adhered to them for weeks sporting their favorite color where their friends could sign their autograph.
Or the day that one of my friends showed up in glasses. I remember seeing her new spectacles and I couldn’t wait to try them on, yearning for a pair of my own. I recall her acknowledging how she didn’t realize truly what a tree looked like. Her new glasses allowed her to see the world with a level of sharpness she didn’t know she was missing out on. While all of that was fine and dandy, I was more interested in how cute her new frames were and secretly bummed that I had perfect vision.
Silly, isn’t it? I know that now, but tell that to a 12 year-old. Well, actually don’t waste your time because she won’t listen; I wouldn’t have. And you betcha I would occasionally cover each eye independently to check to see if I had any solid rationale to talk my mom into taking me to the eye doctor for a check. And the day I did, inside I was pumped!
One eye was worthy of a contact, odd I know. And after a few years of not wearing the contact due to laziness, my other eye worsened. I got to pick out my first set of frames – a bronzed wired version to be exact. I know that because to this day, I still own them. And they lived up to every expectation I had. I definitely did feel distinguished hiding behind that pair.
But fast forward a few decades and the newness has worn off. The daily contact ritual is second nature, but a burden nonetheless, especially when I forget to follow the two-week disposal recommendation. Ouch. Or when I accidentally fall asleep on the couch without taking my contacts out for the night. Such the dilemma I’m up against each evening. Wearing contacts while watching TV runs the risk of me dozing without removing, but wearing glasses instead just isn’t comfortable when I rest my head and the weight of the day on my worn out pillows.
This one night was no different from many others. I opted for the contacts and ran my risk. Of course I paid for that decision the morning after, waking up to dried out eyes begging for saline solution. I obliged and went about my day as usual, which was a typical day except for the fact that I was headed on a work trip the day following. I think I’m among the minority when I say that I am a female and I hate packing. My feelings were no different this day. I dreaded the inevitable.
After the kids were snuggled in bed I prepped, pulling all of the necessities for a work trip and a few extras because you never know how your mood can dictate a clothing choice! I had an early morning flight so I made every attempt to get in bed at a decent hour, except every good laid plan is always grounds for disaster. And my disaster hit when I took my contacts out.
You know the feeling you get when you get an eye lash lodged in your eye or a popcorn kernel burrowed in between your teeth? I become manic when that happens, pulling out the floss and rubbing my uncontrollably. Whatever is necessary to get the irritant out, I’m on it. And this night was no different. The moment I took my contact out I knew that an eye lash made its way in. I rubbed. I wiped. I flushed with saline solution and got a wet rag to scrub. I did everything except look in the mirror, and the moment that I resorted to the obvious, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor.
It runs in my genes, my large, deep, brown eyes. So when I saw a white spot in the middle of one of mine, I knew something was out-of-place. After more removal attempts and a last resort call to the on-call eye doctor (I didn’t even know such a thing existed!), I met a new arch nemesis and it was one that not only canceled my work trip, but made me pull out my glasses for a few weeks. Stephanie, meet your new cornea ulcer.
Who gets those?! Apparently my name is among the list of others who have had a careless moment with their contacts. And while the eye sore, literally, is less than visibly appealing, thank heavens it wasn’t a smidgen lower, causing permanent vision loss. However, I wasn’t too sure of damage extent and not nearly as comfortable as I preferred with an over-the-phone diagnosis so I made my way to pay a visit to the doctor the next morning.
Me and my bloodshot eye tried to not turn heads for the wrong reason that day. This lady never leaves home without her eye liner, but that morning I wouldn’t let anything come near my eye except my hand only if it promised to attempt to scratch around the irritant. No matter how much time I spent prepping my hair or in choosing my attire, my eyes told a story I couldn’t hide from.
The doctor’s office was crowded, as evidenced by the lack of parking spaces. I drove around three times praying for someone to leave so I could have a shorter commute in the cold, but this day my original prayer wasn’t answered; at least not how I had hoped. I parked in the business adjacent to my destination and mustered up the strength to brave the elements and make my way in to hear my eye’s fate.
As I approached the front door, my body begging to get inside and pissed off at me for not dressing appropriately with the cold temperatures, I was made to press the brakes and pause as an elderly couple had the same goal in mind. They fit the mold of a “sweet old couple” in every way. From the way she touched his shoulder as he inched forward out of the bitter cold maneuvering his walker to the nonverbal cues of two people who have been together longer than they have been apart. These two didn’t move without the other, and it was obvious nothing would change that.
He was the patient, and she was taking him to the doctor. I could tell because she was taking lead in the situation. But while his ailments made it challenging for him to get to his end destination, she too faced her own challenges as her tremors from what I could only believe to be the onset of Parkinson’s caused her to struggle at even holding open the door. And no, she didn’t have to do it long as I quickly jumped in to do it for them, letting them both enter into the waiting room where we were all greeted with welcomed warmth.
She motioned him to find a comfortable place to sit while she signed him in, something seemingly easy yet daunting for her to accomplish. Her shaky hand caused her struggle to stay within the sign-in lines as she tried to write his personal information so the office knew of his arrival. What should have taken a minute or less drug on for several. I was impatient, and even asked the receptionist if there was another sign in sheet I should use, but was told that the one this woman was using was it. I didn’t realize until later that even me asking that question pressured her to try to move faster even though her body wouldn’t allow it.
I’m guessing that the receptionist either woke up on the wrong side of the bed or was immune to situations like this as she prodded this woman for her husband’s insurance information, even requesting that he personally bring it to her to get his signature. I almost stepped in, which would have been totally out of line, but the woman held her own, expressing that she could sign for her husband. Of course she could. It may take a while, but to this woman, she could still do anything she set her mind to.
As she grabbed her seat after completing the necessary paperwork, I noticed a sigh in her breath so subtle so as to not let her husband see the challenges that she faced for him. And as she sat down, she mumbled to him, letting him know she had him taken care of, as always as I expect. I went to sign in myself and as I saw her scribbled attempt on the sign-in sheet I was livid with myself.
What was so important that I needed to gain an extra few seconds at this woman’s expense? Yes, I was concerned about my eye situation, but for the moment I could see, albeit behind bulky glasses but I could see nonetheless. In fact, after I signed in myself and found a semi-comfy chair to wait, I couldn’t stop watching this couple. And as I took my glasses off to give my ears a break for the time being, even through my blurred vision I saw a love that withstood the test of time.
She loved him and he did her. To the point where nothing stood in the way of helping each other out, not even their bodies beginning to fail them. They didn’t ask for help, for all I know they didn’t have any, but they huddled together in the brisk winter wind and made it to their regular check-up. Together. Each one needed the other. And together they navigate their life, one wobbly step at a time.
As I sat there, waiting, I let my mind wander and I thought about my own life, grateful that I have found a love that will withstand all. As I watched them, I realized the importance, yet again, of the moment. Time measured by a clock is a human invention, but time in God’s hands is a collection of moments. Just like the hands on a clock, moments fly by too if you don’t take time to savor them.
I thank God often for the time He has given me, but what I frequently forget is that time isn’t something I own. It is a gift given and it’s meant to be shared. While I get to choose how I use it, God didn’t give me it to scroll through my social media news feed or become a recluse watching Christmas movies, although that is very enticing this time of year. It’s a gift meant to be given to help others in some way, even if that way is quite small.
This couple proved that. No glasses were needed to see how we can all do anything we set out to do. No challenge we face or hurdle we approach is too tough to navigate when we realize that the moment we are in, God is by our side. We might not see Him, and at times it may feel like his presence is a bit wobbly, but like this couple, God will never leave our side. For He gave us these moments to help others, and in doing so, He is helping us too.
That day, God stood by these love birds. I know he made the parking lot full so that I would walk in when I did, to take a little burden off by holding the door. He helped this woman control her tremors just slightly, enough to scribble a name. He was there in each touch and each mumble. While on the outside it appeared their struggles were intense, inside I know God was the one holding them together.
I can only pray that one day I will reach the age that this couple is. And I pray that if I get that gift, I will use it as wisely as they have, to help each other. No matter what obstacle I face, I hope to see through it, knowing that I may find myself in valleys, but God will give me the equipment to pull out. I may stumble, but there is no doubt He will be there not only to catch me, but to hold my hand throughout.
You know, you don’t have to reach old age to savor moments. In fact, just like everything in life, each moment you breathe you get to make a choice on how you are going to live it. Stop living in a blurred daze and find clarity in who you are, where you’re headed, and how you are supposed to use your moments. A pretty pair of glasses won’t do that for you, but set your sight on Him, and your life’s path will be sharper than ever before.