I had spent the weekend dreaming of my new Corvette but struggled to control my excitement because I knew from past experiences that allowing hope to overwhelm reason would often result in disappointment. I wanted to tell all of my friends about the test drive and the deals that were being made but limited myself to telling only one other person when I pulled Shawn aside and spoke with him quietly allowing myself a moment of release.
After the weekend ended, I had never been so happy to see a Monday morning. I practically jumped out of bed and made the morning rounds with a bounce in my step before getting behind the wheel of my Camaro for what I believed to be the last time. I anxiously awaited the phone call from Ronnie; the Chevrolet dealership manager that assured me the necessary strings had been pulled but as the hours ticked away, my excitement gradually turned to despair.
Most of the day dragged by with the phone ringing numerous times but none were the one I wanted. In the final hour, I decided to call Ronnie instead but he had already left for the day. By the time that Tuesday morning rolled around, I had already decided that I would go to the dealership on my lunch hour and find out exactly where everything stood.
A few hours passed and late in the morning, I decided to step out of the office to visit the convenience store located across the street. I honestly don’t remember if I intended to make a purchase or if I just wanted out of the office to get away from the phone that refused to ring. I was walking by the bathrooms on my way to the beverages when I decided to make a pit stop. The men’s room was out of order but the cashier, who had come to know me over the past year permitted me to use the employee bathroom.
The bathroom had the basic sink and toilet but it also served as a secondary storage closet with the usual supplies stacked in the corner on a shelf. The door was being held open by a bungee cord that had been hooked around the knob and anchored to the shelf by a knot on the other end. When I reached to remove the cord, I heard a warning in the back of my mind; that little voice that reminded me how dangerous bungee cords can be but somehow in that moment it wasn’t enough. After unhooking the bungee, the metal hook slipped from my fingers and struck my left eye.
Upon impact, I saw a bright flash of light and felt a burn that left me staggered. My first instinct was to rub my eye but all I could feel was a warm wetness against my hand. I tried to open it but the burn was far too intense and after having lost the vision in my right eye to diabetes several years earlier, I found myself completely blind.
I felt along the wall and made my way back into the store calling out for help to anyone that could hear me. I recognized the voice of the cashier as she reached out and guided me to a chair behind the counter. She asked me to hold my head back and I felt the rough texture of a towel against my face. It was cool to the touch, moistened with cold water and I held it there while she asked what had happened. Obviously I couldn’t open the left eye but it stung just to open the right so I kept both eyes closed while I explained everything.
One of the oil company employees came into the store and found me there before guiding me back across the street to my office where I called Heather to come pick me up. I could hear the gasp of fear in her voice followed by that sense of urgency that so many of us experience when panicked.
She arrived very quickly and drove me to the Ophthalmologist that had served as my primary eye care physician over the past decade. Soon thereafter, I was placed in one of the rooms. The nurse had applied numbing drops to both eyes so that I could be examined but it didn’t do much good. The eye had filled with blood and the doctor couldn’t get a clear view of the damage. His recommendation was that I go home and rest for a few days, give the blood a chance to clear and come back on Friday for a more thorough examination to better estimate the amount of damage done.
It would be three very long days before I discovered that the bungee had ruptured the lens and that it would need to be replaced with an implant. Numerous blood vessels had bursts under the strain, continued leaking deposits into my eye and would require a multitude of laser surgeries to repair the damage. I had a long road ahead but my life had come to a complete standstill while I repeatedly replayed the moment in my mind. So many variables had come into play that day and it was enough to drive anyone mad if given enough time; something I suddenly found in abundance while dwelling in the darkness. The life that I knew was over and it had all vanished in the blink of an eye.