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Life Changed, But Not The Talk

Saw my friend B today.  He who was suddenly blinded three months ago in a motorcycle accident the Saturday before the Super Bowl.  I try to visit every other week.  He's my best friend from childhood, which pretty much makes him a BFF (if guys are allowed such a thing). 

This morning I'd returned home from a long walk and was getting my customary clean-up courtesy of Gibbs.  (What can I say? He likes sweat!)  My cell rang and it was B calling, which surprised me.  He'd used the voice-activated command feature of his phone to place his call.  Anyway, we'd talked yesterday about meeting today, and he'd just finished a schedule morning conference call that had run long.  Since we both needed to clean up, I hoped to be there by noon.

When I arrived, B made his way to the front door rather quickly.  He was dressed, but wore no hat or sunglasses.  I'm becoming more accustomed being around without him wearing his sunglasses.  But still, it can be alarming to see small, dark, reddish eyeballs.  Fortunately, if I have any reaction, he can't see it.  Walking back to the TV room, I noticed B is moving about carefully, but more easily.

He has one or maybe two more significant surgical procedures to address injuries from the accident, with the more drastic being the major reconstruction of his middle and upper face.  B is approaching all of this with a matter-of-fact, it needs to be done, attitude.  His youngest sister visited yesterday and helped B compose letters to different medical centers that are working on cutting-edge things like electronic and optoelectronic retinal implant technology for the blind.  These are being called "retinal prosthesis", "artificial retina" or sometimes even a "bionic eye".  There may even be an eventually brain implant.  Whatever it involves, B is putting himself out there as a prospective test subject for any work being done.  His reasons, being active in his kids' lives, are certainly compelling enough.  B is willing to go anywhere and do anything if there's even the slightest possibility he might be able to see again.

(About this time, I started replaying the opening sequence from "The Six Million Dollar Man" TV show in the mid-1970s - "Steve Austin.  Astronaut.  A man barely alive.  'Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology.' ...")

As we left to go for lunch, B showed me he is now using a collapsible cane.  He does pretty well with it.  When he's not using the cane, he prefers taking your right elbow and being led.  We're learning.  Together.  I was extremely grateful for folks at the restaurant who held doors for us as we entered.  Lunch was nice.  Back at the house, I finally admitted I was choosing my words carefully now.  I tried to say things like 'it's good to be with you' rather than 'I'm happy to see you', or would try describing things to him rather than saying 'I wished you could have seen it'.  There were other things too, but B quickly turned to me and said, "I'm not going to change my vocabulary.  You shouldn't feel you have to change yours either.  It doesn't bother me."

B's patience is admirable, and his resiliency is remarkable.  Thank you, Lord, for your abiding grace and mercy.  B is strong, determined, and doing remarkably well.  I've admired him for a long time, but never more than now.  He's a former U.S. Marine and a construction engineer/foreman/supervisor.  A tough guy, for sure.  That the accident itself didn't kill him is testament enough to that.  Almighty Father, I definitely see, hear and feel your commanding presence in all of this.  All of it.