It’s pretty clear that there are some sad, difficult things about being married to someone who’s going blind. I tend to be realistic and honest in most aspects of life, but I also try to be optimistic when I can. So I’ve been keeping a running list of the positive consequences of Zach’s vision. When Jack Donaghy asks, “What’s the upside?” this is how I answer.
1. Awesome television set. Zach isn’t completely blind, and he can see things better if they are bigger and without glare. So his vision was a great excuse to get a HUGE L.E.D. television. Thanks, retinitis pigmentosa, for permission to splurge!
2. He’ll always remember me as young and beautiful. Yes, it can be sad to think that Zach will see less and and less of me as we age. But it’s also kind of romantic to think that 50 years from now (if we both make it that long), he will still picture me most clearly as I was on our wedding day, young and beautiful.
3. Pre-boarding. When we travel, we usually fly Southwest because it’s cheaper, but they don’t assign seats, which means two people traveling together might not get to sit together. But since Zach has a disability, we are able to pre-board, ensuring that we sit together and have ample time/space to get settled. I think Zach feels a little weird about taking advantage of this, since he doesn’t carry a cane and most people can’t tell he’s visually impaired. I think he’s afraid people will think we’re faking it or something. But I don’t feel bad at all, and I don’t care if people think we’re fakers, because we’re not. It’s actually really helpful to board early, as navigating around people, locating empty seats, and finding an overhead space for luggage can be challenging for Zach, especially if we get separated.
4. Sometimes he misses on-screen nudity. Some of the artistic movies Zach and I enjoy have nudity. I don’t like it, but I tolerate it. A few months ago we went to see P.T. Anderson’s “The Master,” and there’s one part (I don’t think this is too big of a spoiler) where suddenly all the women are naked. I really didn’t understand what was going on (was it surrealism? was it from a certain character’s subjective point of view? are the naked women going to turn into frogs?), so after the movie, I asked Zach about it, since he is really, really good at film interpretation. He had no idea what I was talking about – he was completely unaware there was nudity in the film. I was a little sad that he missed an intriguing part of a movie, but let’s be honest, I was also happy that my husband wasn’t looking at a bunch of naked women.
5. One car is cheaper than two. Zach can’t drive, which is probably the part of being legally blind that affects our lives in the biggest way. At times it can be inconvenient, and we are limited to living in more accessible areas so Zach can remain independent and mobile. But at least we save money by having just one car!
6. He might not notice if you steal a bite off his plate. Not that I have to sneak around when I want some of his food…I am constantly amazed by how generous he is! Whenever he catches me, he says, “You can have as much as you want.” : )
Can you think of any other possible upsides to having a spouse with a visual impairment? It’s OK to get creative!