indigo eyes

A friend of ours was telling us about his poor vision as a kid. One thing he recalled about the day he got glasses was, for the first time, seeing the incredible detail of individual leaves on the trees. He had held leaves before, seen them on the ground and knew they came from the trees, but before he got glasses the trees’ canopies appeared simply as a mass of color—green in summer and golden or scarlet in fall.

In the early days, before Calvin’s epilepsy eclipsed everything in his realm, I used to think a lot more about his vision, or lack thereof. His world existed only within a few inches from his face. Even after getting glasses when he was eleven months old, it seemed that, although his acuity may have improved from 20/1000 to 20/130, his brain could only interpret that which was a few feet away and static or slow moving. It took years for Calvin’s visual tracking to develop the slightest bit, and the seizures and drugs haven't helped any. He still doesn’t appear to register passing cars or trucks or much of anything further than ten or fifteen feet away.

I remember one summer when my nephew was visiting. I had seen a northern flicker woodpecker in a tall backyard pine and had pointed it out. My nephew spotted it almost immediately, though its brownish-grey speckled body blended well with the tree’s bark. At that moment it struck me how amazing our eyesight is and how Calvin would likely never experience seeing this kind of fine detail in the visually intricate world that surrounds him.

Instead, we bring the world to Calvin. I walk him to the trees so he can see and feel the rough, ridged bark. I pick him up to touch and regard supple veiny spring leaves and brittle autumn ones. I hand him prickly pine cones to explore and he inevitably wants to eat them all. Through this narrative of life Calvin has learned to see as much through sound and touch as through his amazingly beautiful indigo eyes.

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