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Friday, February 22, 2013

Can you see me? I'm here in the darkness. (Part 2)

As I continued my experience randomly selecting food and taking small fearful bites (you never know when they would sneak in another olive, or infinitely worse, a bit of cilantro) I start listening to the conversations around me. I turn my head to the left and listen.

Perk.  No one could see that I was eavesdropping. 

They were talking about what brought them here tonight.  Most people had just heard about it and thought it would be an interesting thing to try.  I speak up and say that I have a blind daughter.  They start asking me questions about her and want to know what she has to say about blindness.  I explain that Oli has autism and doesn't talk.  A woman across from me and to my left starts to tell me about her friends daughter who is also autistic.  We are interrupted by a loud voice behind me.

"Seth's wife? Seth's wife?"

"I'm here!" I call out.

Were you wondering where my husband was during my first moments in the café?

Where else?

In the bathroom.  Minutes before we followed the waitress behind the curtain and stumbled into the darkness, Seth decides he has to pee.

I guess the line was really long because he hadn't returned when it was our turn to be seated.  I knew he would find me eventually.

I grab his hand, well. . .I try to grab his hand, but really just keep grabbing our waitress Faith's hand.

"Nope.  Your still holding onto Faith." She tells me as she tries to guide me to Seth's hand.

"See? Woman hand." I touch her smooth hand. "Man hand" She laughs as I finally grasp hold of Seth.

"Ahhh. . .very important detail. Smooth soft girlie hands and rough man hands." I say giggling about my complete ignorance.

I really need to concentrate and let me other senses take over.  I am focusing on the blackness with my eyes.  Opening them wide and trying to discern any tiny shape, form or different shade of darkness.  There was nothing and I am disoriented. 

After Seth is seated I turn back to my left and try to speak to the woman about her friends daughter again.

"So your friend's daughter has autism?" I speak in the direction I had before.

There is no reply. 

My voice seems small and gets lost amidst the other conversations.  I have no other way to get her attention because I cannot make eye contact with her and don't know where she is to touch her arm. I don't even know her name.

All of a sudden I feel very alone and lost.  I feel unseen and unnoticed. 

Is this what it is like for Oli? She can't see me and she can't talk to me.

Does this sweet little girl feel unnoticed, unheard, lost and afraid in her world of darkness?

I slump in my chair as my heart begins to feel unbearably heavy.  I sit back as those startling realizations hit me and think about that moment.

I think about how I am feeling at that exact point in time and try to burn it into my brain.  I don't want to forget it because I am learning.  I am finally learning a very small part about what it is really like living in Oli's world.

(Check back later. I have more to tell you!)

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