That is what the eye doctor said when I went in to get my annual eye exam . . . “Hmmmm.” Not the most comforting sound that one wants to hear from any person related to the medical field . . . “Hmmmm.” For about five minutes as he examined my eyes, he said, “Hmmmm.” Then he hit me with the “good news, bad news” statement. The good news, he said, was that I was correct in assuming that my vision had gotten worse . . . then he paused before stating, that there was a black spot at the back of my eyes that he would like me to see a specialist about . . . nothing to worry about, but something that a specialist should check out. Then he added, “Hmmmm.” That was pretty much all the information he gave me as he gravely looked at me with a sad look on his face.
Not the words of comfort one wants to hear. I could feel my blood pressure rising . . . something is wrong and this guy isn’t tell me. He just kept encouraging me to make an appointment with a specialist . . . and, he kept “hmmmming”. So I made the appointment and ran home to look up “black spots in the back of people’s eyes” on the Internet. Of course there were only 4,500,000 million entries on the topic . . . 4,500,000 million entries that ran the gamut of “nothing to worry about” to “massive cancer”. I went, “Hmmmm . . . I wonder which it is?”
Being a good human being I did what all human beings do . . . I jumped to the worse conclusion that there was. I had cancer of the eye . . . months, if not weeks, to live at the worse . . . if I survived I would be minus an eye . . . partially blind . . . six feet under in no time. Of course, even though that is human nature to think the worse, I knew better . . . if it was cancer I had years, not months, to live. To say the least, I was more than a little concerned with what the eye doctor had found, after all, he did say “hmmmm”.
It was a good two weeks between the eye appointment and the appointment with the specialist . . . two long weeks. Despite trying to focus on the reality of the moment, my mind did wander to the worse scenarios. I caught myself driving home from work closing one eye and seeing what it would be like to drive with one eye. I discovered that it was limiting, but quite manageable. I caught myself wondering what it would be like to take photographs with only one eye . . . so, of course, I practiced. I thought about what I would do if it was a serious death threat . . . what I would do to take care of business so that the wife would be taken care of . . . all the work that would need to be done to assure that. I thought about who would come to my funeral . . . who would speak . . . and, whether or not anyone would actually come. I thought about a lot of things . . . which, of course, were on the crappy end of the stick.
A couple of weeks ago I had a conversation with a co-worker about what would be the worse sense a person could lose . . . popular opinion was that sight would be the worse sense to lose. I had never really thought about it, but then I suddenly did . . . everything I love doing involves sight. Without my eyes my world would suddenly become very small . . . without the breath of life, it would become even smaller. Trying to be rational my first response was . . . “hmmmm”.
“Hmmmm . . .”
Finally the appointment with the specialist came to be. I had my eyes examined . . . had them scanned with an eye CAT scan . . . had photographs taken of them . . . and, had them examined again. I had the doctor go over the previous eye doctor’s notes. Had the specialist go over all the gathered evidence. Then the verdict: No big deal. That is what he said, “No big deal . . . it is a miniscule mole. In fact, I would not have even recorded if I had done the eye exam.” It was not some rare eye disease. It was not cancer. It was a stinking mole . . . one that would take a microscope to find. He told me to relax . . .
“Hmmmm . . .”
In all honesty, it was relief to hear the doctor declare that it was not a major issue that I was dealing with . . . just a funky birthmark that no one else could see. It was a relief to learn that I was not going to lose my sight. A relief to know that I had not been dealt the death sentence. A relief to know that my eyes were fine and dandy . . . to know that I could continue to read, take pictures, and to look into the beautiful eyes of both my granddaughters. A relief to know that I wasn’t going to need a pirate’s eye patch and to learn how to speak pirate . . . argh!
What did I learn? Well, I learned that it really doesn’t matter how young or old we are, we still think of ourselves as indestructible . . . that we can never die. I learned that we take for granted how fragile life really is . . . that despite the evidence around us, we just don’t get how fragile life really, really is. I learned that I don’t really appreciate how beautiful the gift of our senses are . . . whether they be sight, smell, or hearing . . . we just do not appreciate how beautiful these gifts are. I learned that I would not be a very good pirate . . . my “argh” is pretty pathetic. I learned that I am not doing a very good job of being a steward of the gift of life that God bestowed upon me . . . I need to appreciate it more.
Despite the “cool” veneer I showed to the rest of the world, my soul struggled with the “hmmmm” . . . struggled with the uncertainty of what was happening . . . . struggled with the idea of abandoning my wife and children . . . of not seeing my grandchildren grow up. I joked about it . . . but underneath I wondered . . . “hmmmm”.
So, the verdict came in. I received a clean bill of health. I was declared cancer-free, but suffering from a mole. I was told not to worry. It is hard not to smile with such news, but the original doctor did mention that it might not be nothing . . . that it was best to seek out the opinion of a specialist. Several hundred dollars and hours later, I was declared clean.
What is God trying to tell me?
Two years ago, before a hernia surgery, it was my heart. The tests pointed to a sick heart . . . that I had had a heart attack. After extensive testing . . . hundreds of dollars . . . I was declared healthy as a sixty year old mule . . . but, I was healthy. This year it was a black spot in the back of my eye. Again, a clean bill of health. Each time a painful reminder of the gift of life. Is this what God is attempting to tell me? To value life . . . or to become a pirate . . . that I might want to start practicing my “arghs”.
I don’t know for sure. What I do know for sure is that whenever people look at me and go “hmmmm”, I am not comfortable. God is sensing me some sort of message. I am not quite sure that I know what the message is, but I do have an inkling that it has something to do with appreciating the gift of life.
I cannot complain about my life . . . . besides, no one would listen anyweays. I have a good life . . . a family that is growing and loves me despite my grumpy introverted ways . . . friends who actually do care about me . . . a church to serve that is a blast to be around each week . . . I have a lot to be appreciative about when it comes to life. Don’t we all?
I am here . . . my prayer is that I learn to accept and enjoy it for what it is . . . it is a gift. I need to open the gift . . . rip off the wrapping . . . embrace it for what it is, good or bad. And, if you are reading this . . . well, you ar here too. May you learn to accept the gift of life for all that it is in the present moment . . . it beats being a pirate with one eye running around yelling, “Argh!”
Hmmmm . . . it is something to think about.