This past Friday I met Daughter in the city at her eye doctor’s office. The day she had planned for, saved for, done research for and kept her contact lenses out for had arrived. It was a day she had dreamed about for years. LASIK day.
Thousands upon thousands of people have gotten LASIK eye surgery to date and I’m happy for all of them. The fact remains that I didn’t give birth to any of them so I never gave their eyes a second thought. The eyes that were sitting next to me in the waiting room on Friday were a different story.
The office protocol advised that patients bring someone to help them get home. In addition to Daughter, Friday afternoon’s patients consisted of two young men and a young woman. On her cell, the young woman promised her parents she would call after the procedure and assured them her boyfriend was picking her up. This being Manhattan, the two young men piped up that their boyfriends were coming also. The excitement level was intense. In a matter of hours, there would be a bonfire of the eyeglasses.
The physician’s assistant distributed half a Valium to each patient to promote relaxation. Daughter refused hers saying she wasn’t nervous and she doesn’t like pills. The assistant gently urged her to reconsider saying that no one had ever refused. Daughter insisted on refusing saying she wanted to meet the experience head on. Her partially sedated fellow patients looked at her in muted disbelief. I tried to make a grab for the Valium but it was gone.
Soon Daughter was, too.
She emerged a short while later in the trendy Ray Charles sunglasses the office provided along with a goody bag of eye drops, post-surgery instructions and an appointment for the next morning. We headed out to the darkness and rain that was last Friday’s rush hour. Holding my arm in the elevator to the lobby, Daughter said the surgery was insanely cool and proceeded to describe it in detail. I smiled and nodded even though her eyes were closed. She reported calmly that she had smelled her eyeball being cut by the laser. I should have grabbed faster for that Valium.
She leaned against a street sign in her hoodie and dark glasses in the late afternoon rain while I failed to hail a cab on Sixth Avenue. A private car service driver watching me and my vision impaired daughter called over to get in and he’d take us anywhere in the city for $20 including tip. It took forty minutes to go thirty blocks.
Exhausted, Daughter fell into bed and was asleep in minutes. On the other side of her studio apartment, I lay awake in the dark for hours listening to the sirens and street noise from the avenue below. Before dawn, I opened my eyes to see Daughter standing by the window staring out with her hands pressed against the glass. She turned to see me watching her. A huge, wondrous smile spread across her face. “I can read the store signs, Mom. I can see them from here.” I can’t think of a better way to start a day.
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