October 1, 2014
Today we went back to the occularist to get Emily's new prosthetic lens, one that would be painted to match her good eye. I was nervous, mostly because I wanted her to simply allow me to put the lens in, and keep it in. But matching it as closely as possible to her right eye was extremely important. This lens would be the first of many that would help her gain self confidence, determine how others would accept and embrace her disability and most importantly, impact how she viewed herself. We all know she is beautiful, but children and adults alike often don't see their own beauty, they see their flaws instead. I grew up with having a very low self esteem. I was made fun of for the way I looked, my haircut, the clothes I wore...and various parts of my body that were either "too big" or "too small". I can pin point the exact moment in first grade when my nickname was given to me by some very mean girls on the playground. I know what I was wearing, where I was and who it was that said it. My life has not been the same ever since, and from that day forward I have had a body image problem. I didn't have a physical disability, I was a normal 6 or 7 year old kid. I'll admit, the name calling and teasing is what I fear most for Emily socially, so her new lens needs to look as natural as possible. It needs to blend seamlessly with her other eye in order for it to not make her good eye, look like the bad one.
We arrived at the office and I thought I heard a familiar voice, but wasn't sure. Then I saw through the open door to an exam room my friend Michelle and her son! We met through both Dr. Zaidman and Dr. Kane when their second son was born. Both of their boys have pediatric glaucoma, and the older boy had recently lost his vision in one eye. We have been talking on and off for years and although I knew they were going to bring their son to be fitted for a lens, I had no idea they would be there today! It was a wonderful surprise, not just for us as parents, but for the kids as well. Emily didn't remember him, but that didn't stop them from talking and playing like they had known each other for a long time.
While we waited for our appointment, and for the last minute details of Emily's lens to be finished, Michelle and I laughed and cried for at least an hour. We were there for support for each other, and for each others children, and it was nothing short of therapeutic for everyone. Our kids and respective families have been through so much, and no one can understand exactly how you feel like someone else who has been in your shoes. It was wonderful to be there to talk her through some of her fears, and have her help settle some of mine. They weren't supposed to be there, life through itself in the way of their original appointment, just like it had for us. It was no coincidence that they were there...it was the world working its magic for all of us who needed it. Right place, right time, right people.
I was no longer nervous about how the lens would look, I knew it would be amazing. But seeing it and helping to shape the outcome of either blurred lines around the iris, or a slightly bloodshot look to the whites of her eye, helped me realize it would be perfect. When it came time to put it in, Emily was hesitant...but she let me do it. She cried for a moment, and then opened her eyes and realized it was ok. She was ok. I cried...she was my Emily again...the most beautiful little girl in the world. I hugged her probably for more of my own comfort than hers, and after wiping away some tears, I asked her if she wanted to look in the mirror and see how she looked. And as she held the mirror up to her face she said "look mommy, now my eyes look the same again!"
In that bittersweet moment, there were no words to say other than, "yes Emily, they are!".