Last week, one of the sons of the ladies I work with was suffering from a high grade fever. They were worried that he might have meningitis. While chatting with some colleagues who have children of their own, the subject turned to this sick boy as someone relayed the message that he was getting better. I mentioned how relieved I was to hear that he was out of the woods, as I had gotten sick with meningitis and lost my hearing as a result.
After this conversation, I realized what an odd situation I was in. Here I was, a happily healthy, rather normal person who just happened to have a disability that resulted from the infection we were talking about. And I was contemplating how awful it would be for this little boy to be afflicted by the very same thing that I had survived. I may not be explaining very well why I found this situation a little odd. I certainly wasn't wishing on this child what I had suffered. But to commiserate about a terrible infection and the possibility of irreparable damage to one's hearing made me uncomfortable because I've developed a determination not to feel sorry for myself. This determination (and it is determination because I am a introspective person) has made me a much more content person.
I still remember the throes of self-pity I threw myself into when I was a teenager. It took a very brutal, startling retort from my father to shake me out of my melancholy. I haven't looked back since.
What I'm thankful for today, I'm not sure. It's a tangled web of thoughts and emotions I'm trying to sort through. Am I thankful for being hearing impaired? Obviously not, but then again, it's made me who I am. I guess what I'm trying to get at is life itself. I may have been dealt a different set of cards than many people, but, somehow, lacking a sense makes you all the more keen to seize life. You're making up, not for lost time, but for lost experiences. I may not know what it's like to wake up to the sound of voices in the kitchen as someone prepares coffee, or what it's like to distinguish the sounds of birds from the wind, or what it's like to carry on a conversation with someone across the room, but what I do pick up on, whether by sound, sight, smell, taste or touch, I treasure.
"If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel's heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence."--George Eliot