With only the dim light that trickled down from the street light, she fingered her way on the keypad to access the security door to the lobby. She led me onto the elevator and punched the number to Floor 1 — automatically and out of habit. We inched our way down the hallway, past a couple of doors, to hers on the right. She used a key to open it and invited me in, proud to show off her apartment for the first time.
Inside was a tiny kitchen. Her clean dishes, mostly plastic, lay flat on a dish towel where she had washed them earlier that day. In the attached living room, she headed straight to her computer table and dropped into the chair. Her fingers flew across the keyboard to log in, probably more quickly than I could have done on my own laptop. She turned on some of her favorite Christian music from a CD player within reach on the table.
I fiddled with the switch on the table lamp until it clicked on. “Here. Let me turn on some lights for you before I go,” I said, just to let her know what I was doing. And why.
She giggled and scrunched her head into her shoulders. “It really doesn’t matter, Silly. I’m blind. Remember?”
Of course I remembered. But remembering and understanding what that truly meant and how it affected her on a daily basis are two different things.
For my friend, Alison, it bothered me to think of her sitting on the sofa, Indian-style as she preferred to do, in the dark. It made me feel better to turn on the lights. But to her, it didn’t matter.
Alison is twenty-something; independent and more determined than anyone I’ve ever met. She is quick to recognize a voice, even from across the room, and describes herself as a very visual person. Before parting, she often says, “Bye for now. When will I see you again?”
That may be odd terminology for someone who has never seen before. She was born without sight, so she has no point of reference when I describe the colors of the sky or someone with blonde hair. How do you describe a color without using more colors? As someone who has a penchant for words, I struggle to find the right ones with Alison. What is snowy white or billowy? What is light but the absence of darkness?
Alison volunteers at a local school and reads to young children who are sighted, one of whom she claims “really reminds me of myself at age six.” She has sung in the church chorus and charts her calendar based on the next time she gets the opportunity to attend church. She is a new Christian and claims to know little about the Bible, but she’s hungry for more and always seems to have a scripture ready to encourage others.
An advanced user of Facebook, Alison is quite social and never cowers from being forthright and honest when she may be having a rough day. And on the best of days, she is quick to share her triumphs.
On a recent stormy day with the repeating threat of tornadoes, her fear was apparent as she described being awakened by warning sirens. This would be true for anyone, but the crashes she heard outside her window gave her clear reason for concern.
Alison is content. Even if there were a miraculous new medical treatment that might allow such, Alison once stated that she never wants to see. Not here on earth, anyway.
“I want the first person I ever see to be the face of Christ. One day in Heaven. I’d say that is worth waiting for.”
For my friend Alison, there is no darkness. She carries light wherever she goes. And light, by its very nature, shines brightest in the midst of complete and utter darkness.
That is Alison.
“…then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday” (Isaiah 58:10 NIV).