I can’t really see out of my left eye.
It’s not a huge deal. Used to suck that I couldn’t see 3D movies, but the technology changed and now I can. Turns out I wasn’t missing much.
I’m lucky that my eye tracks, looks fairly normal and doesn’t bother me. I can tell when I look in the mirror and in photographs of myself, but it’s not super noticeable.
Not really a big deal.
Well, it wasn’t a big deal.
Last month my driver’s license came up for renewal. I haven’t been into the DMV since my teen years, just always renewed online. This time they required me to come in. Super annoying, but that’s bureaucracy.
After failing the eye exam with my bum eye, as I knew I would, the lady says I need to get my eye doctor to fill out a special form that allows me to drive. I did that years ago, but they have no record of it. Another annoyance, but I smile and move forward.
After all, I am a ridiculous rule follower at heart and I know how to play the game. Smile. Nod. Jump through the hoops.
I drop the form off for my doctor and wait the 7-10 days it takes for it to be filled out. Once ready, I pick up the form, wait for just under an hour at the DMV with my kids in tow, and finally hand it over.
“Not good enough,” the woman says without looking up.
“Excuse me?” I say with a smile.
Clearly I heard her wrong.
“We are going to need you to take a behind the wheel test,” she says. She follows this with a big exhausted sigh.
“Say that again?” I say.
She finally looks up and explains that for “people like you we need proof that you are a safe driver.” I make an appointment to come back in two weeks to prove I can drive with one eye.
“Might have to give you a provisional license.”
“Might need you to take the test every time you renew now.”
Tears come and I am pissed. I swallow hard and brush them away. Don’t cry Bridgette. Don’t make a scene. It’s not her fault.
“The DMV is black and white,” she says. “I’m sorry. There is no gray area.”
I look in her eyes and decide she probably is sorry. Her job sucks, but in that moment I don’t care. I want to smash her face.
I gather my form up and walk to the car. The second the van door shuts I start to sob. Big, holy shit sobs.
What the fuck am I going to do if they take my license?
“Mommy, are you OK?” my girl says from the backseat. “I’ve never seen you this upset.”
“No,” I said. “I am not. I will be, but right now I am upset.”
She unbuckles her seatbelt and touches my shoulder. My boy follows her example. We sit there like that for a few minutes, me sobbing while my children comfort me.
Eventually I snap to it, wipe away my tears and move forward. I think we got ice cream.
It’s been almost two weeks and my test is tomorrow.
I am not good.
My anxiety is at Threat Level Orange, and I’m really not being nice to anyone in my path today.
It is completely ridiculous.
Of course it’s going to be OK. I know how to drive. I’m certainly a better driver than when I was 16. I have nothing to worry about.
The fear is so great that I’m finding it hard to move today. I want to crawl back in bed and sob into my pillow and it really has nothing to do with the actual test.
It has everything to do with losing my freedom.
My entire ability to care for my family is wrapped up in my car. We live 25 minutes from school. We live 20 minutes away from my nearest friend. Without wheels I am trapped.
No car=no life.
I know that seems melodramatic. It is.
But I’m scared to death of going blind and being dependent on others.
I don’t like to ask people for help. I don’t want someone having to help me with anything. Ever.
So tomorrow is a big deal for me.
And then there is my grandma Kate.
I keep flashing to the day we had to take my grandmother’s license away. She was in her late 80s and had started having dementia. She had got lost several times and drove onto a curb. It wasn’t safe for her to drive anymore. I knew it. She knew it. But actually going through with taking away her car was horrible.
I still remember her crying.
She knew that was the end of her freedom.
She knew it meant she had to rely on someone to do everything for her now.
She knew it meant defeat.
I felt her pain then, but I feel it even more now. I keep seeing that look on her face and I want to go back in time and hug her even tighter. I want to hold her and say, “I love you grandma. I’m sorry.”
I was in my 20s at the time and I was exhausted at taking care of her. I was frustrated that she wouldn’t see that she was being unsafe and selfish. I became impatient with her. I tried to understand, but how could I?
Getting old sucks.
Losing your freedom at any age sucks.
I think about friends I have right now that have to rely on others to do things for them either because they are battling cancer or because they have a disability. I think about how much freedom they have lost and I feel like an ass, a selfish and stupid ass.
Even so, I’m still scared shitless about tomorrow.
My husband suggested going in whistling, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”
A friend suggested dressing and acting like a teenager from the 90s.
That would be fun, but I’m too chicken.
Oh, I got it!
When the fear starts to grip me, I’m going to remember this picture of my crazy, pirate of a son.
“Me eyes….oh not me eyes!!”
Yes. That will do.