27 | Diagnosis

The doctor said, “One of the doctors in our practice was able to identify what you have.” My mouth fell open; time slowed; seconds stretched to days, weeks, to the swirling galaxy light years away. I was so small amongst these ancient stars, my entire planet just a thin dot on the horizon, my world this microscopic lesion. Somewhere a toddler cried as their toast tumbled to the floor, and a father bent to retrieve it.

“It’s called UAIM,” he said.

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26 | Aftermath — Part 3

Of course it’s a terrible idea to diagnose your disease on google. But I had to know what was wrong with me. Before I could lose my nerve, I typed “eye issues” into the search bar on my phone. A cascade of results appeared.

“Where to start?” I thought to myself. I felt like I stood at the edge of a waterfall, doubtful if I should throw myself into the pounding current.

I held my breath and clicked…

25 | Aftermath — Part 2

“It’s my news to tell,” I said.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know it would bother you,” he said.

“We haven’t even told our families yet!” I said.

“I’m sorry,” he said. We sat in silence, staring at our plates. Jeremy scratched at the uneaten food on his plate; my eyes felt hot.

“I’m just scared,” I said.

Jeremy sighed and touched my shoulder. “I know,” he said.

24 | Aftermath — Part 1

“I can’t believe this,” Jeremy said.

“Yeah,” I said thickly. “They don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

“I never expected that,” he said.

“Yeah,” I said.

“You okay?” he said, stopping to look at me.

I sighed and buried my face in his chest.

23 | Specialist Appointment — Part 9

In the silence that followed, I heard what he was not saying: my retina is irreplaceable, one-in-a-million. Which means there’s no reversing the carnage already enacted on my ratty retinal layers, and in fact, it could get worse. There was no going back.

22 | Specialist Appointment — Part 8

“Hello again, Elizabeth,” Dr. Patron said as he sat on a black rolling stool.

“Hi,” I said, as I stood to shake his hand again and then raced into the exam chair in the center of the room, perennially the straight-A student and now, aspiring perfect patient.

“Let’s just take a quick look at your eyes before we discuss the results of these tests, alright?” he said.

“Okay,” I said, willing myself to smile but aching inside – here he was with the answers, and I needed to wait for him to fiddle with a machine or two before he tells me what he knows?

The Jesus in Mary Jane

I turned my nose up at my weed-smoking neighbors. I described them to friends as “old hippies,” I rolled my eyes at them, and I wondered, “Do they even have jobs? What do they do all day?”

I even tried to root my feelings in my Christian faith. But Christianity has this sneaky core tenant about loving your neighbors, even the ones you don’t like. I actually believe that Jesus died for people who hated him, so I could not escape the pang in my gut that told me I was straight-up wrong in feeling so great about myself and feeling resentful toward them — I could not escape it, that is, unless I simply chose to ignore it.

That’s what I did: I ignored this gnawing expertly, just magnificently, until the day I actually met my neighbors.

I Care What Jesus Looks Like

For most of my life, I assumed Jesus was an effeminate white guy. Of course, that had something to do with the fact that every depiction I saw confirmed that: shoulder-length brown hair, blue eyes, creamy skin, clean-shaven face, slim figure. Basically, Jesus looked a lot like me.