When I was told I would go blind, I got angry. At thirty-five, I was still operating under the delusion I had control over my life. But that dose of fear and pain enraged me. .
First, I got mad at my parents. After all, it was the funky combination of their genes that produced RP in me. They could see fine and so could my older brother and all my other relatives, so why was I the chosen one?
Next, I got mad at God. I collected all my favorite visual stuff – my baseball glove, my golf clubs and my cameras, piled them on a picnic blanket and sold them at a yard sale. “I’m not gonna wait for God to take my joy away!”
Then I got mad at the doctors who sugar-coated every year’s vision loss by telling me to take heart, that research was very promising. They told me that, as a young man, my future held promise for a cure.
After that, I got mad at myself for not handling blindness better. I was a social worker, by God, and I should be doing a better job with grief and loss, putting knowledge to the test, practicing what I preached.
Thirty years into blindness, I still get angry. But it doesn’t permeate my life. I’ve made my peace with those who were my targets. Oh, sometimes, when I get so frustrated I could scream, I scream. But I’m learning. I’ve learned that pain and anger are a dead end. I’ve learned to pass from mad to sad. Oh, I don’t like feeling sad, but I realize that sadness leads to healing. Only by the gift of sadness do I gain acceptance and recovery. It’s a simple lesson but sometimes the simple lessons take the longest to learn.