“Are you excited to be going back to therapy today?” Leo asks.
I haven’t talked to my old therapist, Marilyn since before the surgery.
“Yeah, but I’m really nervous about it.” I sigh. “Because I haven’t talked to her before the surgery.”
Leo takes my hand. “Do you want me to go with you?”
“No, thank you.” I put my head on his shoulder.
“Okay.” Leo kisses my cheek. “You can always have her call me in. I’ll be in the waiting room.”
Leo pulls into the parking lot of Marilyn’s office.
“You sure you don’t want me to go in?” He takes my hand, as we’re sitting down,
“No, it’s okay, thanks love.”
I ring the doorbell for Marilym, and she comes out two minutes later.
“Hey!” She smiles, cheerfully.
“Hey.” I smile, swallowing a lump in my throat.
“What’s going on?” She asks, after she leads me into her office.
“Well..” I sigh, taking in a breath.
“Seems like a lot.” She offers me a sympathetic smile, which causes me to break down.“So basically.. I had to have my eye removed.”
“Wow, I’m so sorry.” She says, sympathetically. “That must’ve been so hard for you.”
“Yeah.” I bite my lip.
“Do you mind sharing why it was removed?” She asks.
“Remember when I told you that I used to get headaches, before I started going to Dr. Calloway?”
“Well I knew that something was wrong, because I was having those pains again, so when I went to the doctor about it, he told me that the best thing to do, was to remove it.”
“Wow.. I’m so sorry.”
Tears stream down my cheeks, and it’s finally hitting me.
“I don’t know why I’m upset about it, I shouldn’t be upset about it.”
“Because I’ve had four years to accept it.” Tears roll down my cheeks.
“What do you mean?” Marilyn asks.
“That my vision wasn’t coming back, but I didn’t know that he would have to remove it.”
“This is another thing that you’re going to mourn over. You have to give yourself some time.”
I’m crying again, but this time because my feelings are finally being validated.
We spend the next half hour of the session talking about coping strategies, and how to talk about my feelings, so I don’t get all bitter, and angry.
“Same time, same place?” Marilyn asks, after she walks me back into the lobby.
She waves at Leo. “Drive safe.”
“Thanks.” Leo smiles, and puts his arm around me, as we get ready to leave.
“So, how was the session?” He asks, shifting into drive.
“Good.” I smile, putting my hand over his.
“Did you tell her about the new job?”
“Yeah, she thinks it’ll be really beneficial for me, and them, because she thinks I can help them.”
Leo takes my hand, and kisses it. “I do too.”
I spend the rest of Saturday researching pediatric diseases of the eye, and suddenly I want to know everything. I want to be able to do whatever I can to help these children, so they can maybe get out of the situations that they’re in, and help restore some of their eyesight. I don’t want to watch from the sidelines anymore.
“I’m thinking of going to medical school.” I bring up the idea at dinner.
Mom pauses, before putting a forkful of rice into her mouth.
“What?” Dad asks.
“I want to go to medical school.”
I put an egg roll on my plate.
“Why?” Ashlynn asks. “You just graduated.”
“Because I want to make a difference in people’s lives.”
“You’re making a difference in people’s lives at the clinic.” Mom interjects.
“Well I want to make a difference in people’s lives so they don’t end up in the condition that I’m in.”
“Well you realize that you’re going to have to go to school all over again.”
“I’m willing to do whatever it takes.”
“Well you won’t be able to go, without a scholarship.”
“I’ll look into scholarships, before I apply anywhere.”
“We can’t pay that much for you, sweetie.” Dad chimes in. “We’re paying for Hannah’s treatment and your sisters are still in high school. So, you know that we have to get them through college, too.”
“Yeah.” I smile. “I’ll work on that part myself.”
“Are you really thinking about going to medical school?” Leo asks.
“Yeah, I found a new passion.”
“That’s good.” I can hear Leo smiling.
“They have a scholarship seminar every Saturday at the clinic.”
“They have scholarships there?”
“Yeah. A lot of the people there are still in school. Some of them do their residency there.”
“Do they only have scholarships for the grad students?”
“No, they have them for Undergrad too. I’ll go with you.’
I’m really looking forward to this now.
I stroll into the clinic on Friday excited it’s Friday because the weekend is coming up, and the scholarship seminar is tomorrow.
“Hey, Alex.” Kim, the admitting rep smiles.
“Did you sign up for the scholarship seminar? I saw your name on the list.”
“Yeah, I’m thinking of going to medical school.”
“Oh, really?” She smiled. “What made you want to do that?”
“I want to do more to help patients, so they don’t end up in the situation I was in.”
Kim smiles. “Wow. That’s inspiring.”
“Thanks.” I head into the first room on my rounds.
“Hi.” The OT smiles, and shakes my hand. “I’m Kaycee.”
“I’m Alex.” I sit next to the little girl.
“Ciara, our new friend is on your left.”
The little girl offers a gap toothed smile, and I notice she’s wearing sunglasses.
“Hi, I’m Ciara.”
“Hi, I’m Alex.” I look down at the little girl’s chart. She has ROP, just like me.
But unlike me, Ciara’s blind.
A tear escapes my cheek.
“Are you okay?” Kaycee puts her hand on my forearm.
“Yeah, it’s just I have ROP too.”
“Oh, really?” Kaycee smiles.
“Is she completely blind?” I ask.
“Yeah she is, but she doesn’t let anything stop her.” She smiles.
“Why don’t you show her your favorite game, Ciara?” Kaycee smiles.
“Where’s the Jenga blocks?” Ciara asks.
“They’re right in front of you, love.”
I love how Ciara’s not embarrassed at all. She simply just smiles and uses her hands to feel for the box of blocks, and takes the lid off.
“Nice job, Ci!”
Kaycee smiles and then explains; “We always try to acknowledge the accomplishments, she used to get so frustrated about trying to open that box.”
I put my hand on Ciara’s forearm. “Good job.”
“Thanks.” She gives me a huge gap toothed grin, and lays out the blocks so we could start the game. These kids are all pretty amazing when you sit back and watch them.
“Boo!” Leo jumps up behind me as soon as I’m leaving the clinic.
“Leo!” I blush, as everyone laughs.
“I thought I’d surprise you.” Leo leans over, and kisses my cheek.
I smile and put my arm around him. “How was your day?”
He leans over and kisses me, as soon as we get in the car. “Good, how was yours?”
“Are you excited for the seminar tomorrow?”
“I’m kind of nervous.” I slip my patch off.
“Why?” He takes my hand.
“What if people stare at me?”
Leo cups my cheek. “They’re not going to stare at you, love.”
“You’ll just inspire them.”
I lean over and kiss him. “I love you.”
“I love you too.”
Leo pulls into our favorite pizza parlor.
“How did you know I wanted pizza?”
“I just did. And we’re going to Coldstone’s after.”
We walk into the parlor, and the hostess leads us to a table.
“Hi guys.” The waiter smiles at us. “I’m Josh.”
“Hi.” Leo and I take our menus.
“Do you guys need a few minutes?”
“Nah we’re gonna get a nine inch pizza with shrimp fettuccine alfredo and two Cokes.”
“Yeah, as you can tell we eat like horses.”
Josh laughs. “You guys want garlic rolls, too?”
“I don’t know how we eat so much.” I laugh after Josh drops our drinks off.
“We’ve both been working all day.”
“Okay, that’s a good excuse.”
“So, what usually goes on at these seminars?”
“It’s kind of like a college fair. Different speakers from the college of medicine introduce themselves, and they hand out brochures and you can talk to them about going back to school.”
“What made you want to think about going to a seminar?” I put a slice of pizza and a garlic roll on my plate,
“I want to become a medical researcher, I just don’t have enough money right now, which is why I took on a second job.”
Leo volunteers as a music therapist, is a 911 operator and dispatcher, and just started working at Publix.”
“I really admire your ambition.” I gaze at Leo. I can’t help it.
He kisses my hand. “I admire yours too.”
“Is it too late to go to the beach?” I swoon.
“I’m kind of tired, love. Are you cool just watching a movie tonight?”
“Sure, no problem.”
“I love you.” Leo smiles.
“I love you too.”
“Hey.” Leo kisses my forehead to wake me up. “We fell asleep.”
I look at the clock in the living room, it’s after one.
“Yeah, we should get to bed.”
Leo and I shower, and I fall asleep with his arms wrapped around me.
I wrap him into a hug, and give him a kiss before putting my head on his chest to fall asleep.
“Goodnight my love.” He kisses my forehead, and runs his fingers through my hair.
I fall asleep listening to his heartbeat.
I swear I get the best of sleep in Leo’s arms.
I just love him.