February 21, 2012

The Dark Behind Her Eyes

On the 8th of this month, I had to take Maria back up to Indy to see the eye specialist. The problems with her sighted eye have worsened. Not only does she still have the problem with floaters, but her “good” eye has become fairly sensitive to light and her vision has deteriorated to the point where she finds it difficult to see anything written on the television screen.

When things like that happen, it’s funny how your brain latches on to minor and inconsequential observations...we used to go out of our way to watch anime subtitled rather than dubbed. In the last month, it’s the other way around. I’ve come to recognize Funimation’s pool of dub talent by the sound and cadence of their voices, regardless of how much they try to mask themselves.

The last time I wrote about this, I mentioned there was some fear of the culprit being Behcet’s Disease. Thankfully, that proved to not be the case. However, as comforting as it is to have Behcet’s eliminated from the list of possible culprits, I wish the specialist could have given us better news. The last battery of tests all came back negative, leaving us with two possible causes.

The first was a long medical term—sympathetic something or other—which is what happens when you suffer trauma in one eye and your body gets confused, causing it to mistakenly attack the other eye. For that, they drew yet more blood and sent it off for testing.

The other possibility was an infection inside her eyeball, within the vitreous humor. For that they squirted her eye full of numbing drops, then swabbed it with a dark looking stain before leaving us to wait in the quiet and the gloom. When they returned, they placed a clamp on her eyelid—just like Alex in A Clockwork Orange, I kept thinking. Just like Alex. The doctor then inserted a syringe into the far corner of her eye. He held it there while his nurse pulled the plunger. Afterward, he wrote her a prescription for an antibiotic eye drop and patched her eye, leaving her blind for the two-hour-long drive home.

As we sat in rush hour traffic, my mind ran through all the things that had brought us to this moment, all the things we had already been through...

Not only was Maria’s mother physically abusive, but she was a terrible and vile woman who shredded my wife's sense of self with a constant spew of insults and hateful esteem-shattering proclamations: you’re ugly, you’re stupid, no one loves you, you ruined my life, you’ll never amount to anything. After such a loathsome upbringing, her mother topped it off by dying, robbing my wife of the chance to willingly erase her from her life and claim her own self-determined sense of closure.

Her father wasn’t much better.

I remember shortly after her mother’s funeral we got a call from him out of the blue. In his thickly-accented English, he said he was in town and wanted to meet us for lunch. Maria, despite having not seen the man in years, was hopeful—which is another thing that makes having awful people as parents so terrible. Even if they are loathsome human beings, who doesn’t want their mommy and their daddy?

Going there was a mistake. The only reason he wanted to see her was to make sure she knew, since her mother was dead, he didn’t “owe” anyone child support and would not be paying anyone child support.

A year later, he was dead too.

Being an orphan in her early-20s fucked Maria up good, but she came out the other side and we thought she had beaten it until about a year ago the panic attacks started. She’s been in therapy since then and now this...

When we finally made it back to Highway 37, I remember thinking that this is not fair. This is not fair. Not fair... which is the most pointless thought you can think, because life is not fair. It never has been. It never will. Terrible things happen all the time. Bad things happen to good people. Good things happen to bad people. The innocent are punished and the guilty are rewarded.

I have not believed in the notion of a higher power up in the sky who visits suffering upon us to teach us some lesson, to test our faith, to bring us closer to some sort of terrible grace, for a long time. Life just is. It doesn’t plot and it doesn’t scheme. It simply happens and it will always simply happen. Suffering comes from our hunger for continuity and the rigid attachments we sculpt from fear and ego and even knowledge—like the realization that someday we will die. To exist in the now, in this moment, in this instant, with right thought and right action—that’s what frees us.

But still..I don’t think anything has ever felt this wrong.

Why now? Why now when everything seemed to be going so well? When I finally have a decent job with a, mostly, livable wage and benefits? When we own a home and aren’t paying rent for a shitty apartment in a shitty building full of strippers and drug dealers ? When we started talking about having a child and the notion didn’t shrivel my balls? When writing is finally beginning to click? And when Maria is finally confronting the monsters that come for her in the dark behind her eyes.
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