We went to hear the RPO last night. They were performing Verdi’s Requiem, so I knew that it would be a wonderful evening. I had a little trouble seeing as we walked from the parking garage into the theater, but I held John’s arm and made it without incident. The real trouble began as we entered the theater and I looked around. I realized that I can not see. At all. It was a horrifying, shocking realization. Somehow, when I am home in my own environment, I feel like I can see. Maybe it’s because I know where everything is. Maybe it’s because it’s a smaller space. Whatever the reason, when I walked into that theater and looked around, everything was a blur.
I clutched John’s arm. He, also, has been fooled by my ease at home into believing that my vision is not that bad. John led us to the usher, who took us to our seats. I sat down, feeling safe now that I was in my seat. I looked around, testing my vision. I could see the people in the row directly in front of us. They were clear enough that I could make out their faces, their clothes. Two rows ahead, the people were already a blur. Three rows ahead, I could just make out that one man was standing. I turned my eyes toward the stage and saw…nothing. A complete and total wash of darkness. I knew that the musicians were up there – I could hear them warming up. But I could not see them. I leaned over and whispered the news to John, “I can’t see anything.” He understood my words, but I don’t know whether he grasped the depth of my despair as I came to terms with the truth of my visual impairment. I sat in my seat as the theater darkened and tears rolled down my cheeks. I felt sad, confused, desperate.
It is a blessing that the RPO was performing Requiem. As soon as the musicians began to play, the music transported me. I was no longer a sad woman grappling with vision loss. i was a participant in an experience of grace. Last night, the death that Requiem was offered for was my old life, my vision, my expectations. The music allowed me to grieve, entered into my grief with me, soothed my soul. My desolation was replaced by consolation. During that 90 minutes, it did not matter that I couldn’t see, because my entire body became a vessel to hear and contain Requiem.
I return to work at my part time job today, then at my full time job tomorrow. I am scared to death. I know that people with visual impairments and even blindness have jobs. But working with this limitation seems an insurmountable barrier to me. My experience last night gives me both fear and hope. Desolation and consolation. My old life is dead. I can not reenter the world of the fully-sighted. But I have grieved that death. I have celebrated its Requiem. Now, it is time to begin a new chapter, a new life. I can have hope. God will provide the grace I need.