Whatever else it was that I was going to write about for Day 2 (that is, if I had any plan besides seeing what order the pixels fell into when I sat down to write this) - all of that became irrelevant at some point yesterday. This is a story of failing.
I fail at many, many things. I fail at breathing. I fail at bending. I fail at metabolizing. The list goes on, and I have the host of medications to prove it. Somewhere in that list is an almost fail, or, more truthfully, a sometimes-fail. I have crappy eyes. Really, really, really crappy eyes.
I've worn glasses since the fifth grade, mostly because of my left eye. These days, my right eye seems to be catching up (ratcheting down?). You know it's a bad sign when your retina specialist (yeah; they're crappy enough that I have one) send you to the Lighthouse for the Blind, because they are the best at whatever magic it is that they do when fitting someone for glasses. The good news is that I fail at the Lighthouse for the Blind - my eyes aren't quite crappy enough for them. Huzzah.
I had some weird close calls, a couple of times I could have sworn (and believe me, the swears coming out of my mouth were often and loud and tinged with sheer panic) I was going blind. At the ripe old age of 35, I failed at down. At first, it was the crossword puzzle. Then books. These days, it's the dashboard of my car. It is amazing how much I need to see down - and how miraculously this is cured by bifocals. There was iritis at 45. While I didn't fear going blind, I did want to gouge my eyes out with an ice pick; my eye doctor countered with a couple of kinds of eye. Overall, his suggestion worked out better.
Proliferative retinopathy (say that ten times fast) is the companion of my 50s. There were a couple of times I swore - literally and figuratively - that blindness was imminent, and while this condition is certainly dicier than the others, it, too, can be managed and treated. And has been. I even got to be a pirate for a day three times because of it. True, the eye patch was clunky plastic, and I had no parrot for my shoulder; still, I could believe, even if just for a day. Yay me (who knew I was such an optimist?).
After such dramatic build-up, you'd think I had a tale of dire straits and a deus ex machina or two to share. Sorry. Perhaps I fail at story construction as well.
Yesterday had nothing to do with any of this. Not even the crappiness of my eyes, except, perhaps, peripherally. Still, I'm particularly sensitive about all things eye, and am secretly convinced that some day I really will go blind, though my docs and specialists assure me that the chance of that is mostly remote (and believe me: any remote is too much remote for the person who is (you should excuse the turn of phrase) staring the remote in the face).
Yesterday was a total fail at Spring. And because I fail at Spring, I could not see. And I could not see because I could not open my eyes. What a surprise - I don't just get hay fever; I get assaulted by it. It started in the morning with itchy eyes, that progressed to scratchy, that morphed into burning. that finally, by late afternoon, slid into stabbing - light, any light - seemed to stab at my eyes, blinding me (if only figuratively). Ugh.
There I was, after a long day spent squinting at my computer (whose pixels kept getting smaller as the day wore on), wandering the aisles of the Jewel, lids half-open, pushing my grocery cart up and down aisles of food that I knew more through sense memory than actually being able to see anything. I stared at the cottage cheese sell by date almost long enough for it to go out of date. I could barely open my eyes. A fail at seeing. A fail at spring.
Fail, fail, fail. Lots of fail and this is the story of fail. But all these fails - of breathing and bending and seeing and seasons, they're all physical. They are all manageable and treatable. I take a handful of pills in the morning and another at night. It takes 45 minutes to put all the little pills in all the little slots in the twin weekly pill minder thingies. There's a supply of alcohol swabs and pen needles in the top drawer of my nightstand and insulin in the fridge.
I call these fails - or the physical realities of my failures. But they're not. It's my body, which doesn't work quite as well as it did 20 - 30 years ago. Still, it's just a body, and so is flawed - sometimes way more than I would like. But for all the flaws and pseudo fails, it works.
That is, perhaps, a story for another day. Today, Day Two of the Omer, this was all a prelude to the real story of fail:
As I stumbled somewhat blindly through the grocery store, annoyed that I couldn't read the writing on the walls (quite literally), annoyed that I couldn't make my body function the way I wanted it to, there was a real note of panic as I considered the ride home. That would be all of two or three blocks, but it would be in broad daylight. Even with the clouds and the onset of evening, there was enough light to make me want to weep.
How in hell was I going to be able to drive with my crappy, crappy, springtime eyes?
That was my fail. I was in a quandary. Very real, this one. I could barely open my eyes. I thought of calling my son to walk the couple of blocks to the store so that he could drive us home. But I didn't. With almost 56 years under my belt - and almost 25 of them sober - I still haven't learned the most important lesson of all: I don't know how to ask for help.
I know how to panic. I know how to cling to my fear until my knuckles are white. I know how to hide behind the facade of my strength, my independence, while I am buckling at the knee, drowning in my intractability. I know how to wait until the situation is at a crisis point, so that I have no choice but to flail about and cry out for help. But I do not know how to ask, with love and humility and hope.
Yesterday was a silly example. I called my son from the car, asking him to meet me in the garage - asking for his help. He unloaded the groceries. He put them away. He turned off all the lights in my room and told me to lie down. He made dinner. He helped. He helped because I asked, because he is my son. Because I taught him the importance of helping and need and love.
A silly example, but pretty profound. I know, without fail, that when I ask for help, it comes. Just like that. It may not come in the form I expect, but it comes. No matter how convinced I am that this time will be the time that the cavalry gets lost, that Snidley Whiplash will prevail, that I will founder and surely drown - help comes.
I've learned this lesson a time or two before. Probably a few more than just two. I'm guessing, if past experience is any indication, I will need to learn it a time or three more. Still, in this moment, there is a bit of grace - I asked for help. I got it. And I lived to tell the tale.
And so, I ask your help in the counting - for today, we count two of the Omer.
- I write, mostly to keep my head from exploding. It threatens to do that a lot. My blog is the pixelated version of all the voices in my head. I tend to dive into what connects me to God, my community, my family and my doubt. I do a lot of searching, not as much finding. I’m good with that. I have learned, finally, to live comfortably in the gray. In the meantime, I wrestle with God, and my doubt and my joy.