I was too sad to be disturbed by the fact that my 7-year old even knew what Zombies were.
We had come home, settled into our afternoon routine of karate, dinner, homework, and getting ready for bed. Throughout the day, I had asked her — gently — how she felt about her first school field trip: it was the first time she ever rode a big yellow bus; it was the first time she went to the city with her classmates; it was the first time she got to straddle the line between independence and the comfort of Mom as her class chaperone.
For weeks now, we have been talking about whether or not she wanted to go to the IMAX 3D movie with the other kids from her school. With only one eye, my daughter is unable to see in 3D.
Putting all the science aside, while wearing the 3D glasses, the movies still look like a pretty awesome high definition movie. The colors are vibrant. The movement is quick and crisp. And, in many ways, it does feel like you are right there in the ocean. It was definitely a beautiful, stunning and very cool movie.
Up until she heard the clapping noises.
I knew what the clapping noises were. Because, if it weren’t for the fact that I was sitting next to my daughter, I would be making them, too. Arms outstretched — like zombies. Palms grasping at the fish, sharks and dolphins that seemed to be swimming across the bridge of my nose and whizzing by my ears. I felt my own head bobbing and weaving to avoid the hammer head shark that was coming right towards my face. Surrounded by the chocolate-factory-like squeals of glee, I was caught up in the film, the excitement, and the action, too!
Until I looked to my right and slightly down. Her curly hair was swishing around, straining to see not the fish, but what the other kids were doing. To her, it was a really cool film. To the other 300 kids in the auditorium, it was a high speed roller coaster ride into a school of fish that surrounded them from head to toe.
Her left hand batted away my arm that reached to extend across her body, like when you stop short in a car and instinctively reach to protect your passenger. In the light of the 60 foot screen, I saw her clenched fists, knuckles digging into her faded blue jeans. “If you’re upset, be upset,” I whispered. As if anything that came out of my mouth would make it better. “But, if you want, know that it’s a really cool movie that looks really amazing on this screen.”
I slid my yellow, plastic, oversized glasses up to my forehead. She looked up at me. Disgusted. “Stop it, Mom. That doesn’t make it any better. No matter what you do, you’re not like me.” I felt the barb of the on screen sting ray reach into my chest.
The light of the movie gave way to the light of my iPhone. Text icon. Jorge. “OMG. I’m losing it. I feel so bad for Jo right now. Not sure what to do or say. Please help.”
The girl next to her grew more zombie like as the seconds ticked by. Clap clap clap. OOh! Woah! Woaaaahh!
I’m pretty sure she can sense I’m crying. Damn you, reflecting light from the screen! I sat hoping for some deep diving footage soon so I can wipe away my tears under the cover of darkness.
Before dinner, I asked if she’d like to talk about her feelings. Asked her if she’d like to talk about how she felt at the 3D movie. “I guess it was fine,” she said. “I mean, it was still a really good movie.”
“You’re right,” I followed. “I actually really liked it. I liked it, too, when I closed one of my eyes. It just felt like I was watching it here on our television.”
“Yeah, it did. On a really big, big screen.” She smiled. I let it go.
Before bed, we prayed in our living room, giving thanks for what we have. “God bless my Mom, Dad, my sister and brother. Dog. Fish. Aunts and uncles. Grandparents. Friends. Doctors.”
“Don’t forget to bless your armpits,” throws in my 5-year old. “And M&Ms. God bless M&Ms. And farts. I think God should bless my farts.”
As they walked back into their room, Jo turned around. “Mom, if I had one wish, you know what it would be?”
“Tell me,” I urged.
“I would wish that we’d never have to have 3D movies.”
Secretly, I wished other things. I wished she never had cancer. I wished she never lost her eye. I wished she never had to feel so different that she would want to make a wish.
But, less secretly, I was glad she didn’t wish for obvious things. I’m glad she didn’t wish she never had cancer. I’m glad she didn’t wish she never lost her eye. Because, if those never happened, we wouldn’t be the family we are today. I wouldn’t be the Mom, woman, wife, warrior, teacher, and friend I am today. She taught me Brave. She taught me Courage. She taught me Love. She taught me Acceptance. Endurance. Kindness. Peace. She taught me to be Me. She prepared me for my own battles.
Next week, a young boy named Austin is going to lose his sight. He has been battling bilateral retinoblastoma for over a year now, and the cancer has been ravaging his tiny 3-year old body to the point that removing his eyes is the only way to save his life. Lots of chemo. Lots of radiation. Lots of worry, fear, and risks.
I told Jo about him and his surgery next week. We’ve always told the truth in our house.
“Is he ready?” Jo asked.
“I don’t know,” I said. “What makes you ready? What makes you ready to lose your sight?”
“Courage,” she said firmly. “You know you’re ready when you feel brave. You still feel scared, but you also feel brave.”
I wish. I wish that I have half the vision that my 7-year old has with half her sight.
Peace, love and living fully in 3D,