Lost & Found – Against the Dying of the Light

For A.M.

In the months before her blindness, she spreads out the photographs of her family on the top of her formica coffee table. The faces of her children, her grandchildren, her sisters, brothers, nephews, grandnephews, cousins, friends, and long-dead husband seem to float on a film of unfocused light. Like holographs, like weightless amoebas on backlit glass slides, the bright images of smiling faces drift before her failing eyes.

After parking her Toyota Corolla in the underground for the final time, she uses a magnifying glass to sort through the bus schedule.

Coming back from the eye specialist’s one early winter evening, she passes by the outdoor skating rink lit by coloured lanterns, filled with laughing people gracefully sliding through luminous fog. Office towers hang like magnificent chandeliers from the fathomless roof of the sky.

At eighty-seven years of age, she is no longer afraid of the dark. At eighty-seven years of age, she will accept whatever fate has to offer her. She will live, undiminished, greeting the world with her remaining senses.

With eyes closed, she practices feeling her way around the apartment, her fingers trailing over the walls and picture frames and cabinets, touches with sad reverence the spines of her favourite books. The palms of her hands pressed against her closed eyelids, she sits in the armchair and listens to the sound of rain falling against the skylight, the drip of the bathroom tap, the toilet tank slowly filling with gurgling water.

Listening to a record album, she hears every pop and hiss of the needle on the tracks, the sound of the bow scraping across the strings of the cello. She follows the sound of her cat, Monty, as it pads across the linoleum and the oriental rug, laps at its water bowl, rubs itself against the ottoman. She pays more attention than ever before to the smells of basil and tobacco, the taste of the lemon in her tea, and the rich berries of her son’s homemade wine.

When friends and family visit, she enjoys more than ever before the sound of their voices and their laughter. She fancies, somehow, that she understands them more fully, pays more careful attention to their stories.

As they prepare to leave, she touches their faces lightly with her hands. Alone again, she thinks about all the things she will never — as long as ever she lives — take for granted again.

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