A crazy chica, that's what I was, crazy in love with Gene, my blue-eyed gringo.
"Oh, stop," I'd giggle at each of his silly compliments. Of course I didn't want him to stop. I thrived on his every "You look beautiful" and "Love you, my Juanita"—the nickname he gave me as he said he loved my Spanish accent.
His arm would wrap around my waist and lift me with one swoop, leaving me high with joy, the kind of joy that made my life sparkle.
He dazzled me. And I relished those moments when we detailed our dreams, lying beside each other on the pillow of love.
But no amount of romance, commitment, or devotion could have prepared us for the storm that would shake our world.
The storm had a name—retinitis pigmentosa. What an ugly name. It sounded as distasteful as its effect on my retina. My father carried the gene and I had inherited it.
"You need to prepare," the ophthalmologist had said.
Prepare? For what? He never said the word "blindness" then. But subsequent eye check-ups revealed a rapid progression of my side vision closing in. Then the doctor said, "You might lose it completely." He paused. "Or you may not."
I hung on to those words, "you may not." I clung to that hope.
But months later, my side vision closed even more, with the progression moving way too quickly. Bumps into open cabinet doors, running into furniture, missing steps, and even bumping into my own sons became a daily routine.1