Today, we welcome author Amy Bovaird as our guest. Amy has a unique look on beauty and how we perceive it. Thank you for sharing your story, Amy!
I’m losing my vision.
Sometimes when I look around and attempt to figure out what I’m not seeing, it confuses me. Anything above my elbow and below my thigh is susceptible to danger. One minute I’m involved in whatever I’m doing; the next, I’m rubbing down a swollen bump the size of Texas on my forehead. The myriad of accidental possibilities is endless.
It sounds dramatic to say that I have an incurable hereditary and progressive vision disease that will blind me but that’s the truth. No ophthalmologist has ever been able to predict exactly when that will happen. I’ve had to learn to live with the uncertainty and constant adjustments to my decreasing field of vision. It’s now to the point where I notice significant changes. Short of a miracle, this is my future.
Many people would not find my life beautiful.
And yet, God fills it with incredible beauty.
First of all, there are some days when I can see a little bit better. I call these “my good vision days.” I can clearly see whole petals of flowers. I can see details of faces that I love. I can see the sun glinting off a window. I notice a friend from the way she moves down the street. I can see every stair in my house—and I don’t trip. I can see if my shirt is on the right side out. These are great days!
Plus, God enabled me to travel to thirty-three countries when I had more vision. I don’t know if I would have been so determined to travel the world and live in six different countries had I not known that THIS WAS IT. Now I reflect on the people I met, the experiences I had, the cultures I observed and they can never be taken from me. I can see them whenever I remember.
I also choose to find humor in the mishaps that occur. I can’t change them so it’s up to me to respond in a positive way. Otherwise, I’d be agonizing every day of my life. Finding humor in situations often puts everyone at ease. I once poured cream over my pancakes thinking it was maple syrup. Another time, I spit out what I thought was vanilla almond milk gone off. I had really poured chicken stock in my glass! I’ve talked to telephone poles that I thought were people and sat down in cars driven by strangers. My life is never dull!
Finally, I look for the blessings in my life. I have only one life. I don’t want to waste it feeling angry or bitter about what I can’t change. I want to focus on the good I can do with what I have. God provides me with strong friendships, so many people to encourage along the way. Knowing I make a difference in to other people brings beauty to my life. It gives it meaning.
I didn’t always respond this way to the challenges in my life. Like everyone, I’ve had my ups and downs, for sure. I recently lost a huge chunk of vision, and I share that period of my life in my newly-released memoir called Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith. In it, I share my fears, the denial and preconceptions about “blindness” and accepting myself as I am, and struggling to cope with needing to use a long white cane. Readers see the lies I tell myself and the pride that takes over, at times. It’s honest and emotional but also faith-filled and entertaining.
In this excerpt, my one-hundred percent blind mobility trainer and I are trying out my cane for the first time around the neighborhood.
We walked in silence for a few blocks. It didn’t seem all that difficult. Except for a few cars, Bob and I had the street to ourselves. “This cane stuff isn’t so bad.”
I soon changed my tune. When I saw one of my neighbors, I intuitively longed to tuck my cane out of sight. Why oh why did he have to be outside? Oh no. I looked like I was cross-country skiing, except I had only one ski pole, and there wasn’t any snow.
Soon we would pass him. He was dragging a lawn bag full of leaves to the curb. What would he think when he saw me with this weird stick? Of course he’d recognize me. We lived kitty-corner from each other.
I imagined what I’d say when we came face-to-face. I would stop, hold my cane vertically as if I were going to cross the street, except I’d turn and face my neighbor. What would I do? Twirl my cane like a drum majorette’s baton? Or would I use it as a musician’s lead and conduct a silent symphony, of course, introducing Bob as the master conductor? Better yet, I’d use my cane as a teacher’s pointer and gesture dramatically at my neighbor. I would say, “As you can clearly see, I am now learning how to be blind.” That would give him something to talk about.
When we came to his house, I did none of these things, of course. I felt my face heat up. What could I do? I waved at him and smiled.
Somehow Bob knew someone else was outdoors. “Nice day to be out and about, wouldn’t you say?” Bob asked in his booming voice.
No response. My longtime neighbor stared as if he expected one of us to explain what was going on—it was the look of a school principal demanding to be set straight.
It wasn’t going to be me. I closed my eyes for real. No time like the present to try my skills.
We arrived back at the house, and I led the way up the stairs to my sofa for our debriefing.
“You moved at a good clip,” Bob said approvingly. Then his voice changed, and he almost seemed to be teasing me. “Especially toward the end.”
“What do you mean?”
“Oh, like when we passed the gentleman not far from your house. You speeded up as soon as we left.”
“You mean my neighbor? How did you know I speeded up?”
“Is that who it was? I wondered.” He laughed then, a nice gentle laugh, which warmed up the room. “I could tell because your voice sounded a little bit fainter.”
How amazing! Such a tiny detail and he noticed that.
All in all, the training went better than I thought it would. I felt good about my effort, and best of all, I learned a few things—even if did hate this dumb cane.
“So how about our next mobility training? Your school will work well for the location.”
“The next one? Oh no…um, I’m so busy, Bob….”
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