When I was 18, I went to a new eye doctor. I was taken back into a large room and asked to take out my contacts. I stood on a mark at the back of the room and looked at the poster about 15 feet away from me. The doctor said, “Read the first line you can see clearly.” I said, “There’s nothing there.” I had to walk until I was about 2 feet in front of the poster to see the big, bold “E” at the top.
Like most people, my vision is corrected by contact lenses or glasses, which I’ve worn since third grade. As of now, my prescription is a -4.50 in both eyes and it hasn’t gotten worse since I was about 20. My eye doctor said it’s normal for it to level out in my 20’s before they get worse again.
It seems I have limited time to see clearly before more eye problems arise, so I’ll use this time to write what I see most clearly. I’ll write what truth I have witnessed with or without my corrective lenses. I’ll write what myth I have seen disproved over and over again – that people don’t change.
They do, and we can.
I first saw this two months after my wife and I got married. We traveled to my parents’ house for Christmas in 2016. Until that trip, there had always been discomfort around our visits. Everyone didn’t fully relax around us. We weren’t embraced like my sisters’ boyfriends had been. It wasn’t bad, but nothing seemed right or good or easy.
One afternoon during that trip in December, my wife and I went shopping with my mom and grandmother, Nana. We were in a little boutique downtown and Fauxlivia noticed a dress she liked. She pulled it off the rack, held it up to her shoulders, looked in the mirror, and did a quick uncharacteristic sway. She looked at the price tag, nodded in agreement, but then put it back on the rack. My mom saw this and said, “Oh do you not like it?” Fauxlivia said, “I do, but I don’t need it.” No one pressed it and we left the store.
We went to a few more shops but came home not long after. Fauxlivia and I settled into the couch, and probably less than 30 minutes after we returned home, Mom said she needed to go out again. She made up an excuse, I think that she needed something for dinner, and asked if Nana would go with her. Fauxlivia and I stayed home.
When they returned, Mom carried a bright blue shopping bag which we all knew had the gray dress in it. She and Nana were smiling. Mom handed the bag to Fauxlivia and said, “I thought you would look good in it.”
I saw with so much clarity that my family was capable of more love than I had imagined. I saw that my mom and Nana were steadfast on bringing her into our mix. I saw what some people refuse to believe, that people can change, grow, and open their hearts in seemingly impossible ways. I saw my mom and Nana smile authentically when I thought they had always looked forced.
Until that trip, we had slept separately when visiting. The night she was given the dress, I got ready for bed and switched my contacts for glasses. I settled into the same bed with my wife of two months and said, “I can’t believe Mom did that. It was so sweet.” She replied, “I think she finally sees us now.”
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