I hadn’t traveled beyond the borders of the United States in over 10 years, ever since I had my “brain explosion” and lost most of my eyesight. Then, in 2005, my best friend from law school invited me to join her on a vacation to Italy. I said no. I had dozens of reasons: I didn’t want to take Honor on such a long flight and I didn’t want to leave her, I couldn’t get around without my guide dog, I was afraid I’d get lost, or run over or fall down stairs . . .. I had a string of excuses. My friend persisted and promised to be my sighted guide, so in the end, I finally relented and agreed to go.
I was terrified, but I couldn’t resist going either. The reasons I gave my friend for not going were genuine, but they were, after all, just excuses. The real reason I was afraid to go was because I was terrified that my heart would break in half if I couldn’t see all of those wonderful and amazing things I knew were there. I dreaded standing before Michelangelo’s David and not being able to see his lovely lines, or smelling the light Mediterranean sea breezes without being able to make out the picturesque coastline I remembered so well. I didn’t know if my heart could take it. My friend convinced me, it was worth the risk. So I went.
I fell in love in 2005, with Italy. My heart did, in fact, break when I couldn’t see the statue of David, and I certainly shed more than a few tears at being unable to make out the many other works of art I had seen as a sighted person. But I also made a discovery. I found that I was just fine when trying to see those things with which I was totally unfamiliar. With a little help from my friend and with great pleasure, I got to see and enjoy without tears, the Pitti Palace and the Arno River, the canals of Venice and glassworks of Murano. My friend did an amazing job of describing the beauties of Italy. And, the Italians proved themselves to be a wonderful and warm people, both compassionate and passionate; language didn’t seem to be an issue, nor did my blindness. I loved being there because I didn’t feel so “blind.” In Italy, I stuck out of the crowd as much for being an American as I did for being a blind woman. I loved it. Not that I necessarily like looking so “American,” it’s just that I like being noticed for something other than my blindness. I almost felt as though it didn’t matter.
So, my first trip overseas turned out to be a fabulous success, but I missed Honor and I was happy to see her upon my return.
A couple years later, in 2007, Honor suffered the first of four strokes. During the last few years of her life she lost her eyesight, developed painful arthritis, and finally cancer. She could no longer work with me, so it became my turn to care for her. I became her guide and stayed with her: my newfound freedom to travel would have to wait. After a while, none of the physical therapy, hydrotherapy, acupuncture and medical treatments helped her. On April 1, 2010, I had to say goodbye to my best friend, she passed away in our home in my arms.
In 2010, I began my move to France which took almost three years to complete. I’m now living my dream: I’m living on the French Riviera and I’m finally pursuing the last of my three lifelong passions, writing.
I hope you will join me as I share other posts and writings and if you’re so inclined, check out my first book, Facets, which you’re welcome to read about under another page in my blog.
And, my adventure continues . . .