Wednesday, May 6, 2009

FFC May: Eyes

Foggy memories of her mom’s face were about all that was left, and she clung desperately to those images. Her vision now came to her through her fingertips. Jessie was almost certain she’d recognize blue if she had the chance. She had a vague memory of it being her favorite color but the years had robbed her of the details.

Now, as she sat in the doctor’s office, she struggled to comprehend the fullness of what he was saying. Somebody else’s eyes could restore her sight. Her heart leapt and sank at the same time with the realization that the release from her prison of darkness could only be granted through another person’s loss… another family’s incredible grief. How could she want that?

“Jessie?” She felt her mom’s gentle touch on her arm as she spoke. She could hear the controlled hope in her mother’s voice as she asked, “Jessie, do you know what this means?”

“Yes, mom, I know. I have to hope somebody dies. I have to hope that somebody else’s family suffers just so I can make sure my shoes match without needing help.” She wasn’t prepared for the torrent of emotions that followed. Hope, fear and shame mingled together in her tears. She hoped somebody could free her from her darkness. She feared it wouldn’t happen, and the shame came from knowing her gain depended on somebody else’s death.

Dr. Jason’s voice pushed through Jessie’s emotional maelstrom and she allowed it to be her lifeline for a moment. “Jessie, you only get to hope that you’re a match for someone who’s already chosen to be a donor. In my experience, grieving families are actually comforted knowing that, even though their loved one is no longer with them, they’ve given new life to others.” He paused for a moment before adding, “Death doesn’t get the last word.”

Jessie sighed and suddenly felt very tired. “I… I don’t know, Dr. Jason. How can I even think about being happy when I know somebody else will be so sad?”

“I know it’s a lot to think about, so go on home and do that. Just think about it. All we’re doing at this point is getting your name on the list. And the most important thing to understand is that you’re not hoping to capitalize on another’s tragedy. You’re hoping to be the one who sees to it that another’s gift doesn’t go to waste.”

She barely nodded and reached for her mom. Her mom took her hand and told the doctor they’d be in touch. The walk to the car was bathed in silence. Jessie’s mind reeled with the thoughts of how her life could be changed. The only image she had left was her mom’s face and it was becoming more and more hazy as time marched on. They got to the car and as Jessie put her hand out to orient herself, she wondered if she’d recognize a car if she truly saw one. She smiled a little as she thought of the story of the blind men describing an elephant. She’d like to see a real elephant… In fact, there are a lot of animals that are just beyond imagining. More than anything else, though, she wanted to see her mom’s face again. The way he put it about not letting somebody’s gift go to waste made sense. She could be okay with that.


“Yes, baby?”

“Can you call Dr. Jason and tell him to put me on the list?”