It’s pretty quiet here today. My cousin Sally (Klimek) Benton and her golden retriever, Brit, left this morning after spending the week with me. What a gift both of them were: Sal with her amazing story-telling ability--a true entertainer, and Brit with her gentle ways and silky coat that is irresistible. Oh my! And it was the perfect time for them to come because the visit coincided with my cataract surgery as well as with a short time of going nuts just before they arrived.
This “going nuts” business is something, I’ve lately discovered, that can happen right about the third month of grief. Probably, even if I’d known about it beforehand, I couldn’t have stopped it from happening, because until it was over and I’d cried nearly non-stop for about twenty-four hours, I thought I was perfectly sane. Not so. What I was told by a friend, after the terrible tears experience, was that the third month marks the time when a person realizes that the beloved who died is not coming back. I thought I realized that before, but I guess not. I’d become involved in all sorts of distractions that kept me from that realization. And then, suddenly, the distractions no longer worked. Now that I look back I can see that I was in a sort of fugue state for weeks before the crash.
Today, July 19th, is the third month anniversary of John’s death. After Sal left this morning, I climbed on John’s riding mower and spent two hours mowing the lawn. “I’m everywhere around here,” he seemed to be saying to me.
This past Tuesday was my cataract surgery. It went well. Sam and Sal drove me in to Medford and went shopping while I got prepped for the surgery--about twenty different eye drops, intravenous sedative. They must not have given me quite as much sedative as they had with the other eye, a year ago, because I was aware of sensations in my eye. Nothing hurt, and the sedative seems to have the effect of creating interest but not anxiety. So it intrigued me immensely that I could see (I thought) my lens breaking up and being sucked out! And that then (it seemed) I could see the new lens being inserted. Of course, I have no idea what I was really seeing, and I’m sure now that I’ve forgotten most of what happened after that little initial experience. The next thing I knew was that the nurse was asking me if I wanted orange juice, apple juice or cranberry juice.
Sal took very good care of me all that day. I slept for most of it while she vacuumed and fixed supper--her Arizona specialty: chimichangas. The next morning, back at the clinic, I was pronounced in good shape after Dr. Schultz extracted a little build-up of fluid from inside my eye. “This won’t hurt,” he said, and amazingly I believed him. He lifted my eyelid and inserted a needle into the incision he’d made the day before. He was right. It didn’t hurt at all.
Each day since, I have had better vision, and today I can see all distances without my glasses. My experience with the other eye lets me know that that perfection might not last. It takes six weeks for the lens to settle in. But you never know. Maybe next time you see me, I won’t be wearing glasses. I’ve worn them since I was eight years old, so that will seem odd.
By now you probably know more than you ever wanted to know about both grief stages and cataract surgery. All in all, I am doing well. The terrible times turn into learning experiences that can instill a deeper faith and compassion when I am willing to cross whatever threshold is in front of me. The landscape on the other side is always wider than the one I left, and I expect it to continue like that for all eternity.