My hands are shaking. I’ve taken so many deep breaths thathe carbon monoxide in itself could inflate 100 children’s balloons. My senses of touch, smell, taste and sight are heightened. For a reason, my eyes are seeing out rather differently. I saw something that truly inspired me and devastated me at the same time. There are so many words running through my head, my fingers pounding the keyboard in rythym with my heartbeat while my narrow tunnel-like sight is fixated on this laptop screen. Everything I see, do or touch now has so much more meaning to it. A movie made over a decade ago has captivated my thinking and turned it upside down during the 2 hours it ran. ‘At First Sight’ starring Val Kilmer as a blind man diagnosed with severe cataracts since childhood and his sighted lady love, Mira Sorvino. For so long I’ve heard compliments and words of amazement for this movie and unintentionally forgot about it.
Today I chose to watch it and I’m glad I did. The man who was blind all his life could see in his 30s then went blind again after a few weeks. I am a woman in my 30s who grew up sighted then started going blind so fast then perhaps in ten years there’d be a cure for what I have and I’d see again after a few years of complete blindness. Retinitis pigmentosa is slowly robbing me of my sight and right now my life is focused on getting ready for it. Virgil, the man that Kilmer portrays, is going backwards. He grew up a fully blind man, went through blindhood from an infant to a full grown man who became accustomed to that life. He grew up reading Braille with his hands then slowly learned to read text when he could see, I grew up reading size 6 font to size 22 font today. It was like watching myself go backwards in a parallel world. He trusted his instincts through touch, taste, smell and sound. I trusted my instincts mainly on sight. I let my tears flow when he was in the operating room with hopes he’d see for the first time, while I was in the same operating room with a simple cataract procedure which damaged the vision in my left eye, leaving me blind. I now see out of only one retina, with only a small circular space of visuals remaining. He had to learn how to read text, identify objects with sight from touch, tell the difference between a real apple and a picture of one, look at himself for the first time in a mirror and take a long look at his loved ones. In the meanwhile, I am learning how to read Braille Level II, misidentifying objects from loss of peripheral (3-D) vision, looking in the mirror as if I’m seeing a stranger but when I look closely I realize it’s me and lastly memorizing my loved ones’ faces in hopes it’ll never disappear once I go blind. That’s harsh reality for me and for Virgil, it was a dream come true. I’m struggling to become more comfortable with new, strange environments just like he has but he has no permanent dread of sight, I have a deep fear of being blind. But his love for life, my love for life gave us the courage to go on.
The love story between Virgil and Amy sent tingles up my body. The flirtation, the tactile experiments, immediate attraction to each other and there’s the lovemaking scenes of course. I have experienced fragments of what they went through, only because I have not met the love of my life yet however I’ve had my meaningful emotional and intimate relationships that take place in friendships and acquaintances that are so special that I want to share everything in my own world. I cherish touch, most especially from a lover. I cling to optimism from people I love, its radiation effects brighten up my life. I touch a lot of people’s lives and they touch mine, too and one day I’ll steal a man’s heart even if I’m depending on a cane, memory, instincts, remaining three senses and support in a life without sight. It takes one special person to have that instinct, love, understanding, compassion and patience to love someone who’s Deafblind. He’ll come along eventually, like Amy did for Virgil. He’ll learn how to live a life as a blind person through my blindhood, and I’ll learn how to live the visual world through his vivid yet real imagination. Tactile love comes in so many different forms – permanent and temporary, unconditional or short yet meaningful, even if one has sight and the other none.
Sometimes I would wonder if I would grab the chance to see again if they had a cure for my full blindness. I honestly don’t know – only time will tell. If it wasn’t for my blindness, I would be an entirely different Deaf person today. Life would be so different, perhaps less appreciation for what I have. I think I would be a very strong person when the time comes, when the curtain is pulled on my sight and I think I know I will be allright.
Tactile love at first touch.