I need to admit something up front. I was never a huge fan of driving. By that I mean that the actual act of driving never thrilled me. If I went somewhere with friends, I had no problem riding in the back seat. (insert inappropriate teenage joke here) However, it is true what they say: You never know how much you'll miss something until it's gone.
When I first noticed my sight was changing, I was in my car. As I shared a couple of weeks ago, my car was the thing I focused on to see how my sight was slowly declining. My car was the thing that got me to parties, rehearsals, dates and yes, even to school. It is the central hub for a teenager. You can tell that this is true because of the amount of trash that fills up the back seat. I can remember having so much junk back there that no one could sit in it. But, that's a story for another time.
As my sight declined, I was still continuing to drive. Honestly, it wasn't really bad enough to stop driving. Until it was…
I don't remember the date exactly, but I do remember what I was doing. My parents had come up to see me perform in a couple of shows. As I have mentioned before, I was working in entertainment at a local theme park. After my shows were over, we decided to run down to a local restaurant to grab some dinner. Side note: This local place served buffalo burgers. That really has nothing to do with the story, but just thought I'd throw that in there because they were so good!
After we finished eating, we headed home. I took off first and my parents followed behind. What transpired next was the slowest, scariest car ride I had ever had.
Now, keep in mind that I had taken this route many times before so it was one of those “back of my hand” sort of trips. Still, sight is fairly important when you are driving.
It was about dusk as we drove towards home. You know, not totally dark but certainly not bright outside. Everyone had turned their lights on for their drive at this point. (This was before they all came on by themselves.) I began to have trouble as we got a little out of town onto a straight stretch of road. As other cars would come towards me, I could't tell if they were on my side of the road or the other. I would hit the brakes overtime a car got close enough to notice. Needless to say, I rode the brakes all the way home.
My commute from work to home usually took about 25 minutes. That night, although I can't be sure, it felt like it took an hour. After we got home, my mom was concerned that I need not be driving at this point. Remember, I still thought I was getting all my sight back. So, I reluctantly gave up my keys, not even realizing it would be for the last time.
If I think back now all these years later, I can still see the blurry lights of the cars coming towards me. It is one of those things that will be etched in my brain for as long as I live.
When people ask what is the hardest thing about being blind, most people say not driving. And, I have to agree. But, it's not because I loved driving. It's because someone (or something rather) now tells me I can't.
If you have a similar story or know what this feels like, I'd love to hear from you. Feel free to share it in the comments below, post to my Facebook page or send me an email! And, if you are struggling with this kind of story right now and would like to speak with someone, I'd love to work with you!