If I’m honest, I would say that I enjoyed the week you spent in bed. Not confined, exactly—I’m not some kind of monster—but resting, healing, in the apartment we shared. You were no longer in the greater pain of uncertainty, wondering whether or not you might go blind. By then your wounded eye was feeling better, your fever reduced, and you were oh so sleepy. Always just slipping into or crawling out of a nap, the corners of your eyes crusted shut, especially the left—still red and a bit angry-looking, but basically okay.
I enjoyed knowing where you were, where you inevitably would be, when I came home. It made me feel extra competent to return with soup and prescriptions, to administer your eye drops and feel your gratitude with every sleep-heavy kiss. Like Jane Eyre dutifully caring for Mr. Rochester, I had rediscovered my independence, and “perhaps it was that circumstance that drew us so very near—that knit us so very close: for I was then his vision, as I am still his right hand.”
Perhaps. The week before, the optometry specialist on call at the ER had poked and prodded, investigating your eyeball with various drops and through various lenses. We were to report to the authority on retinas the next morning, and there we looked at large photographs of your eye—a globe, a great planet—with cosmic yellows, blues, stardust pinks. The shadowy Milky Way, we were told, was blood hovering just above your retina. “The pupil is not responsive,” the doctor said. We hoped it would be again. But all you could do was rest, and watch, and wait.
Before the accident with your eye, I’d been feeling increasingly distant from you. Struggling with thoughts of dependence and independence. I gather I’m not alone in this—attempting to reconcile one’s understandable yet unnerving reliance on another person with an equal urge for autonomy. Your need, your helplessness, tipped the balance, formalizing the dynamic.In other words, this issue of dependence was made temporarily irrelevant by the fact of it being incontrovertible. A reflex—unremarkable, unremarked upon. And like many a crisis, it drew us back close. On our way from the clinic to the ER, fear lighting up your good eye, I tried to imagine our new reality if you were to go blind in the other. Would things carry on the same? Would they change? Would I be more actively and permanently your right hand? Did I want to be?