When you come to the edge of all the light you have and must take a step into the darkness of the unknown, believe that one of two things will happen to you: Either there will be something solid for you to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.
– Patrick Overton
Ten years have passed since this terrible day. In my sadness and anger, I could not see this far down the road, could not even imagine that a life existed for me this far in the future.
These ten years seem both the blink of an eye and a lifetime, and in some ways, I think both are true. Whenever anyone asks me what happened and I tell the story of that terrifying morning, my face, my eyes, my voice reveal that it’s always with me, right under the surface. But so much has happened in that time, and I am so different from the person I was that day, that it sometimes almost seems like it happened to someone else and I only heard the story.
It didn’t, of course. It happened to me. And it was, as I’ve said, heartbreaking and terrifying. And I was so angry and so sad for such a long time. I spent literal years in counseling, dealing with the aftermath and accepting my new reality. Mostly I’m ok with it now. There aren’t whole days where all I do is cry and feel sorry for myself anymore. I don’t melt down anymore when someone reacts rudely or ignorantly when I reveal my hearing impairment. I don’t often get frustrated when I can’t understand someone. In fact, I rarely cry about it at all anymore. Not because it’s ok, and not because I’m not still sad about it – there are aspects of my life that will break my heart forever – but because, really, what good does it do? This is just the way I go through life now.
Truth be told, it’s not that hard anymore. I “pass” as hearing for at least 90% of my day, thanks to my cochlear implant. David’s gotten used to communicating with me late at night or in the morning when I don’t have my processor on – we would kick ass at charades. I’m surrounded, both with family and friends and at work, with people who know about my hearing loss and accept me without reservation and who don’t blink when I ask them to repeat themselves or turn the captions on. I’m lucky that way.
Ten years ago, I thought the world was over. Now, though, I can see that it was really just a kind of beginning.