At six in the morning I woke up in agony. The sky was getting brighter, not direct sunlight - it takes time for the fog to burn off - but an overall increasing brightness, and all that growing light was shooting pain into my right eye. I should have gotten it looked at sooner. It's been red for nearly a week, but I thought it was merely allergies. It's amazing how delicate our bodies are, how fine a balance we walk between health and sickness, and how a minor irritation can so quickly turn into pending blindness.
I have often considered my vision a borrowed gift. My eyes are not as bad as some stories I've heard, but they walk the line. Astigmatism, myopia, macular degeneration, blind spots, lazy eye... I am an ophthalmologist's candy shop. One strong blow and I could lose it all - the art, the music, the sunsets. How do blind people survive?
I should not have been driving, but the eye doctor was 45 minutes away. Driving seems like such a luxury when it is nearly taken away from you, an inexpressible freedom to care for yourself. Another day more and I would be forced to call around town for someone to drive for me. Without my car, I am cut off from the world, stranded.
This morning as I, bleary-eyed, fought my way to the doctor's, a major fiber optic cable was accidentally cut, severing all communication out of my home town. For most of the day the internet was down, long distance phones were down, 911 was a busy signal. The stores were reduced to cash-only transactions. Cut off, completely cut off. Since the pharmacy could not call out, I wasn't able to get all the eye drops I needed, nor pay for the rest with credit. Luckily the pharmacist knows me and let me walk out with them on an IOU, and such is the blessing of a small town. How thin is the thread on which civilization hangs!
Back home, I sat around utterly stumped. I could do nothing that involved eyesight, nor call any distant friends or family for consolation. Cut off, a game of waiting. The solitary life is at its loneliest when you need physical help.
But I am, even now, listening to reports from the mines in Utah. Last night as I was falling asleep, before a woeful day of my own, I tried to imagine what those six men are going through, trapped in the darkness alone for so long, so cut off. How hungry must they be? Are they cold? Are they talking to each other, or have they focused on silent survival? Are they praying?
I prayed last night for them, and I prayed this morning for myself. It is the one connection I know will never be cut off.