The Color of Loss — What I learned from going blind

“And why should one imagine Sisyphus happy?”

French lit class, late 2008. The question made me cringe. Just a few weeks had passed since I came back to school and discovered during this unforgettable Chemistry class that I could see the desk, the pen in my hand and the paper on which I was scribbling down notes, but that the inky lines remained stubbornly invisible. “It’ll pass, it’ll pass” I told myself all the while a little voice in the back of my head whispered: “Ready to jump?”

Since that day, people have jokily –or less so- called me delusional because of my habit of blocking out events that are bound to break me, but this was the first and only time I truly and knowingly decided to ignore the wave of sheer horror that was washing over me.

Weirdly enough, my primary concern was to hide the whole ordeal from my parents. “Fine, but what will you say the day they come inside your room and ask you why you left the lights off? I thus kept on making sure I could tell if the lights were on, dreading the day the click of the switch wouldn’t be accompanied by any luminous change.

That day eventually came; I heard the click but the room remained dark. Not the pitch-black darkness they try to convey in movies, more like a hazy beige dimness where all colors have been smudged into one puddle of abstract shapes.

To be honest, I totally forgot when it was and which room I was entering; I just remember feeling numb and thinking “OK, now what?”

Now you lick those wounds, get out of bed, and learn to live without. Now you adapt to the aching scent that fills your lungs when you enter a library, get your first iPhone and cry your eyes out because you can’t even answer a phone call and no one around you knows how screen readers work. In a year from now, you’ll set up your sister’s iPhone, but you don’t know that yet. You don’t know you’ll make it through school and college, live abroad, fall in and out of love, and live all sorts of things that aren’t related to the fact you don’t see. You don’t know that one day, all of this will become normal and that ten years from now you’ll laugh because nothing will astonish people more than the fact you know which button to press when you get on an elevator.

“Sisyphus knows what’s waiting for him”, I tell my professor,

And we don’t. Unlike the lucky bastard, we don’t swing lazily from past to future, always one step ahead, always knowing what’s coming up next. We’re not pushing a rock uphill; we’re jumping off a cliff. And it’s not the fall we fear, it’s the moment we hit the ground, hear a crack and ask ourselves how long it’s going to take for us to stand up again on our own two feet.-

Forget about lemons; truth be told, life has way worse than that in store for us. Also, I hate lemonade. But sometimes, I order one, take a sip, and tell myself this is what loss must taste like: bitter and sweet and ice cold.