It is always easier to second guess yourself in 20/20 hindsight. Playing the "shoulda', coulda', woulda'" game can eat away at you - if you let it. You may think you would have reacted differently but the truth is you don't get a "do over" so you learn from your experience and you move on. No blame - just except it as a life lesson and move on. Not always easy but the only way to survive without living in the past or loosing your mind.
As I have said it is very easy to play the "what if..." game. When I lost most of my sight in 1990, I spent a lot of time wishing I had done things differently. But the truth is, I didn't have the information I would have needed to make other choices in the months leading up to the detachment. I didn't know that my eye history could lead to a detachment or that there were signs to look for. My doctors had never told me or my parents about any risks. I beat myself up pretty badly for a long time before I was finally able to let it go and move on.
I now realize that if I had not lost most of my sight that I would never have met some of the amazing people who have been part of the fabric of my life over the years. I've come to believe in fate and destiny. Everything happens for a reason.
In May, 1990, almost six months to the day before my retinal detachment, I met a man who was legally blind. We started talking while waiting for a bus. Through him, I met several other blind people. We became a pretty close knit bunch that summer. When I ended up in the hospital they were there to support and love me. They answered my countless questions about how to cope. They gave me a talking clock so I wouldn't have to keep asking the nurses what time it was, and a portable radio so I could listen to music whenever I wanted. They even brought me Chinese food and chocolate cheesecake! They let me rant, vent my anger, cry on their shoulders and they made me laugh!
I've wondered what my life would have been like had I not spoken with that guy at the bus stop. I didn't know any other blind people. I learned so much, just by watching and talking with them. Yes, I did receive some help from the C.N.I.B., but having friends who had gone through similar experiences of vision loss (one even had the same eye specialist!) made the process a lot less stressful. I had a real support system 24/7 and I took full advantage of it!
We don't always get to see the big picture. Some people wind there way in and out of our lives. Some we may never see again - but we have crossed paths for a reason.
In a way it would be kind of neat to have the "George Bailey" experience of seeing what life would be like if we had never been born - but it would also be scary to realize just how much we really have touched others lives.
Some people are there for a page or a chapter and some are there for the whole book that is your life. We don't get to read ahead and see the future. We just have to take each day as it comes and make each decision with the information at hand.
I am still good friends with that guy I met at the bus stop, 18 years ago today.
Sometimes we don't run into each other for awhile but he is only a phone call away. One of that group died of cancer in 2002 and another member is one of my closest friends. We have seen each other through the good and the bad and through laughter and tears. I am truly thankful to have met these people.
So next time you are standing at a bus stop, a checkout or sitting in a waiting room - say "hi" to the person next to you. Start a conversation. You never know how a few words may change a life!