I wasn't aware of it at the time, but those weeks in New York took away a large chunk of my childhood as I had known it, and replaced it with a confusing world heavy with a feeling of fear. The experience threw me into to a life filled with intense adult issues. Through all of this, I was dealing with everything at the emotional level of a seven year old. Reflecting back, it's no wonder that I was having such a difficult time processing what was going on inside me and outside. I felt that I couldn't burden my mom with all my questions, thoughts and feelings because she was close to giving birth to a new life and she was already weighed down by her worries about me as well as for my brothers and sister back in Madison.
The night we returned home seemed magical because we were surrounded by family and a joyous celebration. I now appreciated all the details Madison offered, from the size of our city to the absolute quiet that surrounded me when I turned out the lights in my bedroom. Everything about New York had seemed enormous, including the amount of city lights, the never-ending traffic, noise and crowds of people in all directions. Madison seemed safe and comfortably manageable.
I had looked forward to returning to Wisconsin where I could resume the life that had abruptly been taken from me. I had daydreams of spending fun-filled days with all my family and friends, while leaving all the darkness of tests, surgeries and treatments behind me in New York. Oh, such a beautiful dream, but far from the reality that faced Mom and me after we returned. It was as though someone had packed a suitcase with all of my fears, worries and uncertainties and sent the suitcase home with me. All it took was an innocent question from a friend..."What's wrong with your eye?" At that moment I felt like I might throw up. All I could frantically think about was what had I done wrong? I obviously hadn't looked at him from the right angle like Dr. Reese had explained I should do. It was then that I realized my life would look different, I would look different, and my new reality would look different.