Thursday, July 28, 2011

Twenty Years In the Dark

A long time agoI fell in love, but I lost her. Each day, I relive the memories we made together. She was my love. My eyesight." When my autobiographical theater piece was first produced in 2006, those were my opening words. Instead of scene numbers, I broke up the play into segments where each had it's own title. For example, the opening scene was called Last Night In Light. In fact, my last night in light took place twenty years ago yesterday. Yes, it was twenty years ago today in which I woke up on a Sunday morning anticipating another wonderful day kicked off by spending time in church praising God and Jesus for all the wonderful blessings in my life. Instead, I spent my time in church begging for the restoration of my sight. I prayed, bargined, and asked, but my words were not heard. If they were heard, then they were ignored. Each year, this is a difficult time for me. Just as I get through celebrating my birth, I must focus on what I believe to be my death. Yet, that is not quite true either. On one hand, it was my death as I stopped being the person I was prior to that Sunday morning, but on the other hand, I also feel that the day I lost my sight is the day I stopped being blind. I grew up being told that certain things were true and unwavering. I was told certain things were bad and dirty. I believed in my abilities and my worth because parents and friends told me to believe. I did not believe in other abilities and worth because parents and friends told me not to believe. In all honesty, I lived my life to make others happy. I lived my life making specific choices because they were the correct choices to please God, parents, and friends. After losing my sight, my family treated me differently. When I began to attend school, classmates and teachers treated me a certain way. They treated me like a blind person. I just wanted to be viewed as Israel. If anything, I was a sighted person who misplaced his sight. I would never be a blind person. I never wanted to be categorized as a disability. I wanted to be me and judged on who I was. I did not want to be a champion for a blind cause nor did I want to speak for blind people because I did not want anyone to speak for me. Above all, I did my best to make decisions for myself and not let others bully me into a decision.

As the years went by, I struggled to fit into both the blind and sighted worlds. In the blind world, I found individuals angry at the sighted and those who embraced blindness as their identification. In the sighted world, I found myself having a hard time proving I was worthy to hang. Academically, socially, and technologically were tough roads for me to travel. I did my best to succeed. When it came to athletics, I did not like any of the sports adapted for blind and visually impaired. They were not with what I grew up and were not for me.

Ever since I was sighted, I had always been insecure. After losing my sight, I became even more so especially when it came to women. I always felt a tough battle became more of an uphill climb when I was given a cane. I now had to prove to women that I was "a complete man." It did not help that I have never been "manly." I am not a beer drinking, hanging with the guys, watching violent gun movies, making fart jokes, objectifying women kind of a guy. I would rather drink wine, share my feelings with women, watch a romantic comedy, make sarcastic remarks, and cuddle. Having these interests may be why I do not have too many close male friends while I have been able to become close to countless women. I feel more comfortable around women. Many of them insist it is because I take the time to get to know and understand them. I often wonder had I remained sighted if I would have developed this way. Would I have become someone who wishes to connect with women on an emotional level or someone who is only interested in women on a sexual level? Would my interests as a whole have been different.

Maybe my willingness to share myself is why I have fallen into writing. To communicate and evoke a response is what I enjoy doing. I wonder if I would have found that same enjoyment had I remained sighted. I always reflect on my life whether with my writing, recent triathlon and road race participation, or my befriending so many wonderful people and think, would all this be the same if I still had my sight. I have always said that I would give anything to regain my sight. I always look at what I have achieved and believe I would have done much more if I had my sight. Yet, it was losing my sight which caused me to get motivated and inspired in ways I never knew I could during my sighted days. Each year on this date, I wonder what could have been. Each day I am grateful for what is. I still hope for the day I can see once more and still have plenty of anger and bitterness that I have not had the luxury to have had sight these last twenty years. Even if I get my sight one day, I will always feel cheated that there will always be a dark cloud over the years I did not see. I will also have a warm spot in my heart for the years I did not have sight because I learned so much about who I am. The friends and especially, the women who came into my life and remain a driving force for me to this day are individuals who would have never come into my life had I remained in light. Those women have taught me about being the best brother, friend, writer, lover, boyfriend, and husband I could ever imagine and for all that I would never trade these last two decades of my life. As I state at the end of my play, which I have now turned into a screenplay, what keeps me going on a daily basis is the hope that I will get to see once more. Until that day arrives, I am a sighted person who misplaced his sight, but who is doing his damndest to seize life in the dark!!


  1. Beautiful Israel. I think you see more than most anyone I know.

  2. Thank you, Bob! Sorry I didn't post sooner. I always like to express appreciation to anyone who takes the time to read and post on this blog.